Tech billionaires start foundation to bring ‘lost glory back’ for Indian electronics products and brands


Depth in manufacturing is a key requirement to gain self-reliance in the electronic industry, and a special thrust on designing locally can help achieve this, said HCL Founder Ajai Chowdhry on Wednesday in the capital.

“Government should have a special thrust on designing in every PLI scheme as this will only lead to depth in the manufacturing capabilities of India’s electronics industry,” Chaudhry said at the launch of Epic foundation, an organisation aimed at building an end-to-end ecosystem for electronic manufacturing in the country.

Chowdhry, who helms the organisation as its chairman, added that in the last 10-15 years, many electronic brands like Micromax and Videocon have vanished. The reason, as he sees it: Many global brands flooded the Indian market. These had volume, capability and funding–using which they upended the Indian electronic market, leading to significant loss for the industry.

If we help design and build local brands, then these will ultimately feed into a semiconductor plant, the former chairman of HCL said.

Chowdhry, along with fellow HCL founder Arjun Malhotra and semiconductor industry veteran Satya Gupta launched the EPIC (Electronic Products Innovation Consortium) foundation. The two specific objectives of the not-for-profit organisation include — creating Indian electronics products and Indian brands in high-impact/high-volume categories, and manufacturing semiconductor chips by scaling volume of Indian electronics products.

“Over the last three decades, Indian electronics brands and products have seen a continuous decline and today, there are hardly any Indian brands and products in the high-volume electronics product categories. Today, the market share of ‘Indian’ products and brands is less than 10% out of the $180 billion market for electronics products. We aim to take Indian electronics to real aatmanirbharta (self reliance) – from designing of electronics products to manufacturing of semiconductor chips,” the foundation stated.

On the occasion, Arjun Malhotra, Co-Chairman of Epic foundation, stated that their mission is to bring ‘lost glory back’ for Indian electronics products and brands.

The Indian electronics market is currently worth $118 billion. It exported goods valued at $10.6 billion in 2020-21, says Invest India. The country’s domestic production in electronics has increased from $29 billion in 2014-15 to $67 billion in 2020-21. Also, the global electronic devices market is estimated to be $2.9 trillion in 2020. While India’s share in the global electronic systems manufacturing industry has grown from 1.3% in 2012 to 3.6% in 2019, there is ample space for growth, say experts.

“Keeping in view the importance of electronic products and semiconductor chip products, it’s critical to build self-reliance in this domain. To actualise this — the government, industry and academia need to come together in a mission mode to create real aatmnirbharta in the next 5 years, said Satya Gupta, CEO, Epic foundation. He added PLI is an enormous opportunity for the country, which has an ample pool of design talent and manufacturing infrastructure.

Pitching for a dedicated repair policy for electronic products, HCL’s Choudhary asked if we can design a tablet in India and can run for 5 years, why should it be thrown away?

“Western countries follow a throwaway culture. We don’t want that in India. Conceptually, for centuries, Indians have been closer to repair, reuse and recycling. We should encourage that in this domain too. We are going to make sure that we don’t create e-waste,” he said. “Government should come up with a dedicated repair policy so that every product that is sold/ manufactured in India is repairable. There is a big movement on firms’ repair policies globally and that must happen in India too. This will also create millions of new jobs.”

EPIC foundation also launched two products during the event. This included a 10.1 Inch Tablet with features of repairability, upgradability and AI/ML based inter-lingual translation. The organisation stated that the product will be a boon for education and social empowerment. Besides, a LED driver chip was launched. The foundation claims it has 700 million units of consumption, which would reach a billion units in the next few years. The large number of silicon wafers and chips required for this project can help in reviving SCL Fab and create a huge business of upcoming India ATMP units, stated the foundation.


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