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Presenting the Union Budget 2019-20 in the Parliament, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that India was on its way to becoming a $3 trillion economy this year, and was on its path of achieving the PM Modi’s vision of a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25.
After numerous revolutionary announcements in the field of AI, data analytics and other emerging technologies in the year 2018-19, industry insiders had many hopes from this year’s budget. However, the Union Budget 2019-20 only had a handful of important announcements for the emerging tech area like:
- Plans to encourage adoption and skilling in technologies AI, IoT, Big Data, 3D printing and virtual reality
- Reducing India’s over-dependence on electronics imports by encouraging “actual manufacturing” the country
- New scheme to invite foreign companies through a transparent bidding process
- Set up plants for manufacturing semiconductors, solar photovoltaic cells, lithium cell batteries, solar electric charging vehicles, computer servers, and laptops
- Set up a National Research Foundation to fund and encourage scientific to promote indigenous technological development, particularly around globally scalable technologies such as AI, Big Data, and Robotics
- Setting up of a National AI Center and National AI Portal
- Focus on changing India’s face from a SaaS provider to a tech-savvy product creator
- Promote the use of sustainable energy, a programme for scaling up the use of LED bulbs at a mass scale
We got in touch with numerous Indian industry players and compiled a list of the 12 most interesting quotes regarding the Union Budget 2019-20:
Bhavin Shah, Partner & Leader – Financial Services Tax, PwC India
“The Budget presented today, reiterated the importance of being accorded to the startup sector with announcements such as additional steps to ease the angel tax issue and liberalising the conditions for carry-forward of tax losses. We also saw the unexpected proposal around a dedicated television channel for start-ups. Extending the angel tax exemption to category-2 AIFs should also further boost investments into the start-up sector.”
Srinivas Palakodeti, Global CFO, Hinduja Global Solutions
‘’We welcome this year’s budget as it aims to drive India Inc.’s much-awaited technology push and strengthen the country’s skills in some of the most globally sought after technologies like AI, Big Data and automation. As the demand for such disruptive technologies grow, this is definitely a positive sign for India’s IT-BPM industry that thrives on fostering a culture of technology-led innovation across business verticals. With our country’s diverse and growing talent pool, initiatives like the National Education Policy and launching a startup-focused TV channel will also create a new league of forerunners in India.”
Nivruti Rai, Country Head, Intel India and VP, Data Centers Group, Intel
“It’s a welcome move for the technology ecosystem and I am happy that the government is focusing on high-end technology manufacturing. I believe that this initiative complements India’s strengths as a global hub for technology development and adoption. This will add further impetus to design, product development and design-led high-value manufacturing in India. This also bolsters India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and will enhance the country’s competitiveness and growth.”
Pankaj Muthe, Program Manager, Academic Program, APAC, Qlik
“The government’s continued push to improve the quality of higher education in India is extremely commendable. The allocation of ₹400 crore to create a world-class higher education ecosystem in the country will definitely improve the quality of talent that joins the workforce. The focus on the amplification of skills in new-age tech domains such as AI, IoT, Big Data, and Robotics will also help to address the severe skills shortage that businesses across India are facing at present, apart from opening newer avenues of career growth for Indian professionals.”
Kartik Walia, Head of Operations (India), Amplify.ai
“The government, while adding greater impetus on digital adoption and infrastructure enhancement, has a positive outlook towards promising technologies including AI and Big Data. It has recently announced the launch of National AI Center and National AI Portal and now, in the Union Budget, has promised to build skill sets in ultramodern technologies such as AI, Big Data, and Robotics.”
Atul Rai, CEO and Co-Founder of Staqu
“The new Government’s first Union Budget has balanced all essential parameters of our economic dynamics including infrastructure enhancement, skill development, job creation, and technological advancement. We would specifically like to highlight the Government’s strong focus on the Indigenous Research and Development with the establishment of National Research Foundation will promote indigenous technological development, particularly around globally scalable technologies such as AI, Big Data, and Robotics. We believe that this will pave the way for cutting-edge indigenous solutions and make India a technological epicentre in the international grandstand.”
Neel Juriasingani, CEO & Co-founder, Datacultr
“Startups in the technology industry can take clues out of the various topics touched upon in this budget, to understand the direction and focus. The vision of the government to train 10 million industry-relevant skills such as AI, Big Data, and IoT opens up great avenues for companies & start-ups like us in the space, as well as for those working on building digital infrastructure of a connected India. Besides, other measures announced such as ease of angel tax will make it smoother for investors to put in their money in startups.”
Vipin Raghavan, Co-Founder and CEO of Haber
“This is undoubtedly the most startup-friendly budget we have seen… There is especially an acute shortage of skills in machine learning and IoT. Expansion of Skill India to include AI and IoT is a great move and will make our country and businesses competitive and stay ahead on the global stage.”
Gaurav Hinduja, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Capital Float
“The Government continues to identify the MSME sector as being critical towards increasing our country’s GDP and employment. The push for increasing acceptance of digital payments, Interest subvention scheme and waiver of MDR charges are key to MSME economy which will not only boost financial inclusion but will also create a conducive environment for NBFCs including fintech players to grow and succeed.”
Santanu Paul, Co-founder and CEO at TalentSprint
“It is laudable that the FM in her maiden budget has called out the need for equipping our youth in new-age automation skills such as AI, Robotics, and Big Data. This is a tacit acknowledgement that the world is changing rapidly and our nation’s skill development initiatives need of a major overhaul. As waves of automation and innovation sweep through developed and developing economies, destroying old jobs and replacing them with new ones, our education and skill development ecosystems must reinvent their purpose, so that our youth may emerge as winners.”
Rashi Gupta, Chief Data Scientist & Co-founder, Rezo.AI
“Training support for supporting advanced technical jobs in the space of AI, IoT is a welcome move. We welcome the government’s vision to train 10 million in industry-relevant skills like AI, IoT, and Big Data because these industries will be a much larger industry for India in the next 3-5 years as compared to what we have seen in IT over the last two decades. Startups will have an integral role to play towards this growth, so trained resources availability shall help India gain the next leap in the future.”
Narayan Mahadevan, Co-Founder, BridgeLabz
“This is a welcome move to help support the youth in AI, ML and emerging technologies so that they secure high paying jobs both in India and abroad. One of the areas to support in this would be to look at supporting the startups and organizations which are helping disadvantaged youth to upskill. One extremely beneficial area to look at would be a case for the progressive tax rate for businesses with low threshold tax rates benefitting Micro and Small Enterprises. Currently, the corporate rates are in the range of 25-30% and having a further progressive slab structure will help millions of small enterprises which employ the large base of the pyramid.”
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Prajakta is a Writer/Editor/Social Media diva. Lover of all that is 'quaint', her favourite things include dogs, Starbucks, butter popcorn, Jane Austen novels and neo-noir films. She has previously worked for HuffPost, CNN IBN, The Indian Express and Bose.