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How India’s Hardware Story Was Killed

Anmol Jain

Jun 25, 2024, 08:24 PM | Updated 08:35 PM IST

Let China Do Hardware, We Will Do Software

Via Creative Commons
Via Creative Commons

In an interview with Moneycontrol, HCL co-founder Ajai Chowdhry warned about electronics with Chinese chips sending data back via backdoors, discussed hardware manufacturing, and the importance of developing local quantum technology.

Government Neglect: Chowdhry recalled a meeting 15-20 years ago where a minister dismissed the need for India to focus on hardware, preferring software instead

  • "Dekho bhaiya, humein hardware karne ki koi zarurat nahin. China ko karne do. Hum software karenge." (We don't need to do hardware. Let China do it. We will do software).

Subsequently, HCL exited the PC business in 2018 due to lack of support. "All companies like HCL that started hardware got no support. All the support went to software," said Chowdhry.

Why it matters: Chowdhry predicted in a paper, 3 decades ago, that India's electronics imports would surpass oil imports. This came true, highlighting the need for domestic manufacturing.

  • Current Landscape: India reached $100 billion in annual electronics manufacturing, thanks to subsidies.

  • However, most of this came from manufacturing services like Dixon and Foxconn. "They generate large employment, scale, and exports. But you don’t have enough value addition".

Focus on Value Addition: Chowdhry is working with the govt to create a blueprint to compete with China in hardware manufacturing and increasing local value addition by designing products and chips in India.

Due to geopolitical shifts, global companies are moving manufacturing out of China. India has benefited, but mainly in manufacturing services.

  • Design and IP Ownership: Chowdhry advocated for Indian chip design companies to retain intellectual property (IP).

  • Govt Support: Just like there is a design-linked incentive scheme for semiconductor chips, there should be another for electronics products.

  • Component Manufacturing: He recommends that if we have to make our semiconductor fabs successful, we need to design hardware products and chips in India.

Security Risks: Electronic products imported for defence, space, and atomic energy contain Chinese chips with backdoors. All this data goes back to China.

  • Every chip in these industries is imported and 90 percent of it is from China. For example, the chips in government attendance machines were sending data back to China.

Local Development in Quantum Technology: Chowdhry stressed the need for India to develop its own quantum computers instead of relying on expensive cloud services from companies like Amazon.

  • Using quantum computing on the cloud is costly, so India needs its own infrastructure to stay competitive and secure.

AI and Data: While AI development could be left to startups, Chowdhry noted that India had an advantage due to the availability of data, unlike the stringent data regulations in the US.

Ajai Chowdhry put forward timely suggestions on the urgent need for India to:

  1. focus on hardware manufacturing,

  2. local quantum tech development, and

  3. securing its electronics supply chain from Chinese backdoors.

As India competes with China and other Asian tigers, these steps are crucial for not just economic growth but also national security.

No One Is Surprised At SGPC's Police Complaint Against Woman Practicing Yoga At Golden Temple

X/@TrueIndology
X/@TrueIndology

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee's (SGPC) turn to hyper-extremism is not a surprising revelation for those familiar with Punjab's recent socio-politics.

In a bizarre or rather fanatical action, SGPC filed a complaint against Archana Makwana, for performing yoga at Golden Temple on the International Day of Yoga.

  • Makwana was then booked by the Punjab police under Section 295-A for allegedly "hurting religious sentiments".

  • This comes even when she had put out an apology video clarifying that her intent was only to show gratitude to the Almighty and not to hurt anyone's religious sentiments.

Makwana, a lifestyle influencer, has been receiving several rape and death threats since then. SGPC responded by shirking the responsibility and instead accusing her of "demeaning the Sikhs".

This incident follows the larger pattern wherein SGPC has been actively abrahamising Sikhi while trying to detach it from its Dharmic roots.

What else explains SGPC filing a complaint against performing sacred Yoga endorsed by none other than the founding Guru of the Sikh Panth? Here are some instances of Guru Nanak Dev Ji's reverence for and endorsement of Yoga in Guru Granth Sahib Ji:

  • GGSJ:223 — Jis kai anthar saach vasaavai, jog jugath kee keemath paavai (Those who enshrine the True Lord deep within, realise the value of the Way of Yoga).

  • GGSJ:941 — Poorae gur thae naam paaeiaa jaae, jog jugath sach rehai samaae (The Way of Yoga is to remain absorbed in Truth, through the Perfect Guru, one obtains the Naam, the Name of the Lord).

  • GGSJ:1343 — Nivalee karam bhuangam bhaathee raechak poorak kunbh karai (You may perform exercises of inner purification, and fire up the furnace of the Kundalini, inhaling and exhaling and holding the breath.

Even the later Gurus including Guru Ram Das Ji talk about Yoga and Yogis. For instance, in GGSJ:165, he declares "Har aapae jogee dandaadhaari" (The Lord Himself is the Yogi, who wields the staff of authority). These are just a few instances where Gurus and Gurbaani talk of Yoga and its centrality in Sikhi.

Then why is SGPC going against what the Sikhi says? Well, the issue here isn't just the Yoga.

  • It is the Panthic politics which have become a game of competitive extremism.

  • Be it the recent assault on MP Kangana Ranaut by a CISF constable or the victory of jailed Khalistani separatist Amritpal Singh in LS polls — the problem is that a significant number of people are towing the extreme line.

This is all the more worrisome given the active foreign support for Khalistani separatism in countries like Canada: a memorial service was held in the Parliament for Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a slain terrorist affiliated with the militant Khalistan Tiger Force.

  • Not to forget that there were two Interpol red notices issued against him.

To dive deeper into this extremism emerging out of panthic politics, I urge you to go through this brilliant piece penned by my colleagues Diksha Yadav and Rohit Pathania.

Where was the Basic Structure Doctrine during the Emergency?

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Today marks 49 years since Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency on June 25, 1975.

While the Basic Structure Doctrine claims to protect the Constitution’s core values, it failed to check the excesses of the Emergency as well as the assault on the Constitution by the Gandhi-led Congress govt.

Origin: The doctrine was established in 1973 in the famous Kesavananda Bharati case to allow judicial review of constitutional amendments, supposedly to protect the Constitution's core.

  • Unclear Definition: There's no consensus on what constitutes the "basic structure". In fact, the Kesavananda judgment itself lacked clarity and unanimity among the judges.

Why it matters? It is in direct confrontation with the doctrine of Separation of Powers. It allows judicial overreach and encroachment on the powers of the legislature and executive.

  • Historical Bias: The doctrine was influenced by fears from other contexts, like Nazi Germany, rather than Indian precedents.

  • Emergency’s Impact: While being well-intentioned, the Basic Structure Doctrine couldn't prevent constitutional subversions during the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi’s government.

Recent NJAC Issue: The Supreme Court used the doctrine to strike down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), despite strong parliamentary support for the amendment.

  • Expanding Scope: The doctrine’s scope has grown, now affecting even ordinary legislation, potentially hampering effective governance.

Judicial Overreach & Trust Issues: The constant scrutiny on whether we can trust our elected representatives should extend to our unelected judicial representatives.

Bottom line: As we reflect on the draconian Emergency, it’s also time to reassess the Basic Structure Doctrine. The legislature, executive, and judiciary must work together to ensure a balanced separation of powers and clear constitutional governance.

You can dive deep on this matter with this piece by Aankhi Ghosh, advocate at SC and Delhi HC, which she penned two years back on the 50 years of Basic Structure Doctrine.

Until tomorrow then,

Anmol N Jain


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