Re: From linked Reg article:
India want to develop their high tech industry, and giving their designers practice in designing chips is important in developing the sort of talent pool required to create a self-sustaining hardware industry.
They have an over-arching development program called "Make in India", encompassing a wide range of sectors, everything including automobiles, mining, electronics, IT (of course), pharmaceuticals, space, electric power, and many others.
The policy for the electronic sector is called the "National Policy on Electronics (NPE) 2019", and follows on the NPE 2012. Here's a direct quote from their website describing the scope "The Electronics System Design & Manufacturing (ESDM) industry includes electronic hardware products and components relating to information technology (IT), office automation, telecom, consumer electronics, aviation, aerospace, defence, solar photovoltaic, nano electronics and medical electronics. The industry also includes design-related activities such as product designing, chip designing, Very Large-Scale Integration (VLSI), board designing and embedded systems."
The main competitor for their new RISC-V chip will of course be ARM, and especially the Taiwanese and South Korean chip fabs which seem to make everything for everyone. However, as I understand it they are less concerned at this point about developing a chip which is competitive in performance, and more concerned about developing skills and a pool of talent which can be applied to other commercial projects, even if the actual chips are made elsewhere.
There is a political and diplomatic aspect to all of this as well. Ultimately India want to establish themselves as a world power and don't want to be dependent upon anyone. The US are as least as much of a threat as China in this respect, perhaps even more so given the US proclivity for weaponising the supply chain through indirect control of foreign companies and financial payments systems. For example see India's participation in the BRICS payment system (in cooperation with China among others) which has the explicit goal of reducing dependence on US dollar clearing in response to this.
To make a long story short, India have detailed long term ambitions to make themselves a world power and to not be beholden to any other nation from east or west. This is an ambition that spans multiple decades. As part of this however they have picked electronics as a key industry to develop capability in.