Budget 2023: Technology-driven incentives find a mention in Nirmala Sitharaman’s proposals
It is critical that these initiatives are complimented by the requisite legal and policy interventions
Shruti Shreya Last Updated:February 06, 2023 13:19:59 IST
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Image courtesy Moneycontrol
In the background of the G20 presidency and being the last full Budget before the general elections of 2024, this year’s Union Budget has looked at all the sectors holistically. Moreover, under the 7 broad priority areas also termed as ‘Saptarishi’, technology-driven incentives were found mentioned on several fronts.
From the deployment of technology in building the national infrastructure to the development of digital public goods as a one-stop solution for ensuring ease of compliance for businesses and greater convenience for the citizenry, there is clearly a strong focus on digitalization and simplification of government processes by devising technology. All these measures will be crucial to ensure economic empowerment, and digital inclusion and promote entrepreneurship and innovation opportunities for all sections of society.
Focus on women and youth empowerment
Social and economic empowerment of women and youth is one of the most significant impetuses for holistic national growth. The Budget recognised this fact and mentioned women and youth welfare as one of the top priorities. Schemes for enabling women-led businesses to scale their operations and better brand and market their products are laudatory steps in this regard that will promote their digital financial inclusion.
The focus on job creation, and upskilling opportunities under the National Education Policy and the PM Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0 will be crucial for ensuring more integrated development of our youth population. The scheme will establish 30 Skill India International Centres across the country and focus on industry partnership along with training in new age courses on industry 4.0, like IoT, drones, robotics etc. These initiatives will facilitate greater digital integration of India’s younger generation and help them explore more employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
Technology as the accelerator of India’s development
The Government of India has regularly noted the significance of technology in social welfare and economic advancement and this message was well reverberated in the finance minister’s Budget speech. Agri-tech remained one of the key focus areas with the announcement to develop a digital public infrastructure for agriculture and an agri accelerator fund. This comes as a much-needed push to the agritech sector to enable technological interventions for creating opportunities for growth, raising efficiencies, and boosting overall productivity. This will prove to be a big step in realising the ‘digital agriculture’ dream of India.
AI Centres of Excellence
Another crucial announcement was the establishment of 3 Centres of Excellence on Artificial Intelligence. These Centres of Excellence will be established in India’s leading research institutions and will focus on health, agriculture, and sustainable cities as the priority sectors in furtherance of the Make AI in India and Make AI Work for India visions. This will help in developing indigenous AI-driven solutions for tackling societal challenges and driving national growth.
DigiLockers, 5G labs to boost business
The usability of Digilocker has also been enhanced to provide access to more documents. This move will be especially helpful for fintech platforms to easily access the requisite documents that they need for providing their services and will also further user convenience. Moreover, the Entity Digilocker platform for MSMEs and charitable trusts specifically will help in reducing their compliance burden and facilitate easier navigation through various authorities, regulators, banks, and other business entities. The establishment of 5G labs will also provide greater opportunities for tech-based innovations by facilitating greater R&D to explore the potential of 5G services for multisector growth and development.
Maximising the potential of digitisation
The finance minister also announced the establishment of a National Data Governance Policy for unleashing innovation and research by startups and academia. Likewise, the Government of India would facilitate the establishment of data embassies for countries looking for digital continuity solutions. After Luxembourg, India will be one of the few countries to establish a data embassy. These moves reflect the government’s awareness of the economic and geopolitical significance of data in today’s information age.
It will be critical that these initiatives are complimented by the requisite legal and policy interventions to optimise the opportunities provided by these steps. The long-awaited Data Protection Law must be enacted at the earliest to provide greater compliance clarity to businesses and help them optimise the opportunities from government schemes. Likewise, the incentives for digital empowerment of women and youth can be amplified with effective regulatory interventions to strengthen their online safety and security.
India’s IT Act is under consideration for a revamp and it is expected that the new law will have a significant emphasis on user safety. It is important that these regulatory interventions are promulgated timely and designed with multi-stakeholder inputs to ensure adequate protection of the rights and interests of all the relevant groups and help in maximising the efforts initiated under the Union Budget.
The writer is the Programme Manager at The Dialogue- –a think-tank working on the intersection of tech, public policy and society. She tweets @shruti_shreya13. Views expressed are personal.
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