India announces budget for 2020 with a focus on strengthening the digital economy

India believes this will enable the private sector to build data centre parks throughout the country. Photo: Mint.

India announced its budget for 2020 that had a prominent focus on further strengthening the digital infrastructure of the country.

According to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the country will allocate Rs 6,000 crore for Bharat Broadband Network Limited, a telecom infrastructure provider.

It also dedicated Rs 8,000 crore to the national mission on quantum technologies, to ensure the country fully leverages artificial intelligence and data.

India believes this will enable the private sector to build data centre parks throughout the country.

"Our vision is that all public institutions at the gram panchayat level such as anganwadis, health and wellness centres, government schools, PDS outlets, post offices and police stations -- all will be provided digital connectivity. The fibre to the home (FTTH) connection through BharatNet will link 100,000 gram panchayats this,” said Sitharaman.

"AI, IoT, 3D printing, drones, data storage, quantum computing etc are all re-writing world economic order. India has already embraced a new paradigm such as sharing economy with aggregator platforms displacing conventional businesses.”

Industry observers like Chetan Asher, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Tonic Worldwide said the budget makes him optimistic about the growth of digital ecosystem.

He says the investment in BharatNet will give last mile connectivity the impetus that it needs and pave way for digital transformation at all level.

“Allowing private players to build data centers and encouraging production of mobile and network devices will all compliment each other in growing the ecosystem,” he added.

The budget also aims to boost entrepreneurship by setting up an investment clearance cell. A new portal will also be launched for the same purpose.

Ashish Bhasin, the chief executive for APAC and chairman for India at Dentsu Aegis Network, noted it was good to see efforts being made to encourage new-age skill development as well as helping the start-ups.

While he was impressed with the proposal to set up data centre farms all over the country, he felt that more could have been done in the budget.

“This will prepare India for the economy of tomorrow. It is also good to see attempts at simplification of taxation through digitisation but the proof of the pudding will lie in seeing its implementation on the ground,” he explained.

“It would be fair to say that at best it is a mixed budget and while there are some encouraging decisions, enough does not seem to have been done for the situation the economy is in.”

Sanil Jain, the co-founder of CupShup, a Mumbai-based startup helps brands reach out to the audience by advertising on paper cups, pointed out that the start-up ecosystem in India is not more than a decade old and has come a long way to become the third-largest in the world after USA and China.

“2019 was a not what we can call a good economic growth year but this budget has definitely brought some relief to start-ups. The implementation of the investment advisory cell will aid new start-ups. Deferring the Taxation on ESOPs is definitely a big win as it will go long way in acquiring and retaining quality talent,” he explained.

“While on the other hand, decreasing direct tax to a historic low of 22% will boost export opportunities and drive growth across various industries."

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