On Saturday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget for the financial year 2020-21. The budget had several policies for each sector; with IT sector getting its much-needed emphasis. Sitharaman said that the Indian economy is driven by technologies, and allocated Rs. 6000 crores for the expansion of Bharatnet to 100,000 Gram Panchayats.
In her second budget speech, Nirmala Sitharaman emphasised the importance of new-age technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), 3D printing, drones, data storage, etc., saying that the Indian economy was driven by these technologies.
Furthermore, the Finance Minister announced that the government was planning to roll out a new policy to build data centres under the private sector. This will enable private entities to set up data centre parks across India. She echoed the thoughts of tech gurus by saying, “Data is the new oil.”
There is a Rs. 6,000 crore allocation for the expansion of Bharatnet Broadband Network, an initiative to provide broadband connections to rural areas. The government expects to use Bharatnet internet connections to expand Fibre to The Home (FTTH) to 100,000 Gram Panchayats before the next financial year. Bharatnet is expected to boost regional language content streaming, audio and video in rural areas.
Under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, the government is going to unveil a new policy to encourage manufacturing of electronics and semiconductors in India. This will, in turn, accelerate production of mobile phones and other electronic equipment and will, in the process, create plenty of employment opportunities in the country.
The budget proposed relaxation in Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs). Also, fresh tax rebates for start-ups based on their turnover has been proposed. The Finance Minister has announced a dedicated early-stage fund to support the ideation and development of early stage start-ups.
The government plans to roll out two national-level Science Schemes to create a comprehensive database that will help map India’s genetic landscape, which will in turn support the start-ups. There was also a proposal to start Knowledge Translation Clusters across new and emerging technology areas.
Following the trends in last years, this Budget 2020 has included these proposals to IT sector, which aim to usher economic growth in India. This indicates that IT is emerging as a major sector in Indian economy.
Employability is key
The employability of graduates has been addressed in the budget by introducing new apprenticeship-embedded courses and by ensuring that Urban Local Bodies provide internship to fresh graduates. Increased domestic innovation and production is key for meeting the growing demand for technologies. Establishing technology clusters, small-scale manufacturing facilities for designing and fabrication and allocation for NMQTA will indeed herald the required innovation and production. The government has realised that the integration of new-age technologies in the economic process is imperative for holistic development.