Union budget 2018 has again turned out to be a mix bag for the Indian technology industry. The union budget of 2018, very evidently pictures a positive growth that the government has shown towards digitalization in India. Their push towards the research efforts in Artificial Intelligence is a smart step taken by Mr. Arun Jaitley.
This year, the principal period of the budget session of the parliament started from January 29 and will proceed till February 9. The current year’s budget session is essential as it comes after the Modi government settled on two major budgetary choices over the most recent few years – Demonetisation and execution of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). It is additionally BJP government’s fifth and last budget introduction before the Lok Sabha surveys in 2019. Just before the budget introduction, a recent survey has been made, which said that India’s economy is “getting pleasantly”, and will extend by 7-7.5 for each penny in 2018-19 to again turn into the world’s quickest developing significant economy. Let’s find out what industry experts think about it:
The Government has taken a very balanced approach in Union Budget 2018 with a special focus on strengthening the rural economy, infrastructure development and helping small and medium businesses. Government’s vision to move from black board to digital board schools by 2022, revitalization and upgrading of education sector through increased fund allocation and focus on education related research will create a brighter future for the young. Sumeer Chandra, Managing Director, HP Inc. India excerpted, “We are enthused by the government’s focus on skills development and empowering students with the right educational tools. We are also thrilled with the Government’s emphasis on promoting research and use cases for digital manufacturing and 3D printing. We believe this technology will enable speedy growth of the manufacturing industry and help India in becoming a major manufacturing hub.”
Shrenik Bhayani, GM, Kaspersky Lab (South Asia) said, “The blockchain can be an effective technology and I feel that exploring Block Chain Technology for payments is a brave step taken by the government. I am excited for the development of this remarkable and useful technology in our country, as it is in fact increasingly being implemented by a vast number of industries. At the same time, it can be an attractive target for cybercriminals. Some cyberthreats have been inherited from e-payments, such as changing the address of the destination wallet address during transactions and stealing an electronic wallet, among other things. Therefore, we should remain vigilant to stay secure.”
Today’s Budget clearly pivots on a digital-first India, and three recommendations made by the FM relate directly to the potential we see in the country. First, the NITI Aayog effort to institutionalize research and development in artificial intelligence reinforces the value that machine learning can bring to issues of national importance. Prakash Mallya, Managing Director, Sales & Marketing Group, Intel India shared, “If synergized with the work being done by the academia and industry, we can expect fast emerging use cases that can democratize AI in India. Second, exploring the application of blockchain in governance is a strong indicator of the government’s intent to improve citizen services without compromising on security, especially as Aadhaar gets linked to citizen accounts. And finally, the DoT’s establishment of an indigenous 5G center is an encouraging sign of the government’s view of collaboration with the broader technology ecosystem as the best strategy to accelerate the rollout of 5G infrastructure in India.”
For MSMEs technology is an enabler for business growth and technology adoption is seen as a top priority. However, MSMEs are often unable to utilize the opportunities available through technology due to lack of working capital finance. The budget proposals of access to credit and tax breaks to MSMEs will help reduce capital constraints and encourage investment in IT solutions such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) to help them work smarter, operate more efficiently and be innovative. The Budget announcements will further encourage technology vendors such as Epicor to continue adding value to medium sized businesses through technology offerings that help them grow now and positions them for success in the future. Thiru Vengadam Regional Vice President India, Epicor Software Corporation said, “We welcome the governments proposals in the Union Budget 2018-19 that incentivise MSMEs. The budget proposes bringing down the corporate tax for firms that reported turnover up to Rs 250 crore , thereby reducing tax burden on MSMEs. Further the government has allocated funds for 2018-19 for credit support to MSMEs.
Focus on AI, Big Data, IoT
Broadband access will spur demand for digital services and usher in a new era of digital revolution, establishing India as one of the most robust ecosystems for investment and innovation in the world. According to Priya Mahajan, Head of ASPAC Public Policy & Regulatory Counsel, Verizon Enterprise Solutions, “ We welcome the focus of the Union Budget on disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) and Robotics. With the renewed focus on Digital India, we hope that the Government of India also consider additional reforms to the telecom sector. Reforms that will create a predictable, flexible, lightly regulated and reliant on technology policy framework that incentivizes the businesses to invest, reinvest and to compete in India’s telecom market on a level playing field basis. Reforms that will also provide consumers with greater choices to modernize and simplify regulations for all stakeholders. We are also encouraged that the government is considering series of initiatives to empower the Indian citizens with broadband access thereby bridging the digital divide.”
Usage of Blockchain Technology
Speaking about the highlights related to Information Technology sector of the 2018 Union Budget, KK Mookhey, CEO & Founder of Network Intelligence, a global cybersecurity firm, said “The move to make cryptocurrencies illegal is a major announcement; it is likely to create a negative impact on the price of these currencies, especially Bitcoin. A better idea may have been to come out with some sort of a regulatory framework around cryptocurrencies. On the other hand, the point raised by the Finance Minister about exploring the usage of blockchain technology for payments is a very good initiative. It will support homegrown technologies who have already invested in the technology and will attract new investments in this technology. It is a positive sign to see that 5 lakh wifi-hotspots will be set up covering 5 crore rural citizens. This falls in place with the country’s Digital vision. We would have liked to see more substantial movement on setting up the CERT-Fin for the financial sector.”
Further to the post Budget announcement, D.D. Mishra, Research Director at Gartner said, “The budget does not generate excitement to the extent that was anticipated. Though the extension of rural WiFi hotspots along with investments in telecom can enable rural economy and drive much better financial inclusion and drive technology enabled growth for the subset of our rural population, we need a better connect between strategy and execution especially in terms of digital India so that we are able to fully leverage the enhanced allocation. Looking at the overall picture, I feel that the approach is more fragmented at the moment and outcome and objectives of digital India needs to be better connected with the investments which are being made. Rather than restricting cryptocurrencies, they can be regulated to prevent any adverse impact and risks while exploring blockchain side by side and leverage opportunities which are available with new concepts and technologies that they bring to the table.”
“HMD Global continues its strong emphasis on PM Modi’s Make in India campaign. While the import duties for mobile phones increased to 20%, along with a 15% duty on key components, this will have a minimum impact on our business, as all of our current portfolio of Nokia phones are manufactured in India.” said Ajey Mehta, Vice President India, HMD Global.
Anurag Sharma Director of Akai India has also shared his views. He shared, “We welcome the Budget 2018 by the Honorable Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The increase in custom duty for some parts of TV’s is a clear indication to promote the bid towards ‘ Make in India’ initiative by the Government of India. The domestic manufacturing will be further fuelled with this move and will help the overall health of the economy”