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The government today earmarked more than Rs 8,000 crore to integrate technology across sectors so as to connect rural India via the Internet and increase transparency in its functioning.
In his maiden Budget speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed schemes like setting up smart cities, taking internet to rural areas, to promoting start-ups and virtual classrooms in the social media-savvy government's efforts to bridge the divide between "digital haves and have nots".
The Minister proposed an allocation of Rs 7,060 crore in the current fiscal for developing 100 'smart cities'.
"The Prime Minister has a vision of developing 100 smart cities as satellite towns of larger cities and by modernising the existing mid-sized cities. With development reaching an increasingly large number of people, the pace of migration from the rural areas to the cities is increasing," he said.
Welcoming the government's focus on the ICT sector in the Union Budget, IT-ITeS industry body Nasscom, said: "The announcements on a pan India digital initiative, funding for start-ups, district level incubator network and leveraging technology for good governance are welcome steps."
Networking giant Cisco said the announcement will give the firm an opportunity to play a deeper role in India's transformation. Its President Sales (India and SAARC) Dinesh Malkani said Cisco has worked on over 100 projects globally and is optimistic about working in India as well.
Besides, to encourage development of smart cities, the requirement of the built up area and capital conditions for FDI will be reduced from 50,000 sq m to 20,000 sq m and from USD 10 million to USD 5 million, respectively with a three year post completion lock in.
Under the pan-India 'Digital India' programme, Rs 500 crore will be invested for setting up broadband network in villages, bringing in greater transparency in government processes and increasing indigenous production of IT hardware and software for exports and improved domestic availability.
On the policy front, Nasscom President R Chandrasekhar told PTI: "Government has addressed many key concerns raised by us on transfer pricing issues. The APA rollback, usage of multi-year data for benchmarking and among others should help to improve the business environment in the country."
However, there are certain areas of concern, which could be addressed through guidelines and/or clarifications like those related to royalty definition, Place of Provision of Service Rules, etc, he added.
TCS CEO and Managing Director N Chandrasekaran said the government has