I have to admit I was not very sure how well the government would deliver on its manifesto promise to make technology an essential building block for development and growth. This budget has proved that the government is serious about it and also understands how technology can be best used in the country to build the foundation and the ecosystem needed for accelerated growth.
Yes, the budget may not have had the big bang news everyone was expecting, but to me it is a well thought through and a very deliberate expression of strategic intent for long-term growth. With respect to technology, I see two clear and overarching themes—scaling India’s technology ecosystem and weaving technology into the operational fibre of multiple industries and government departments.
It is the ecosystem piece that’s very clear right up front. I can see that this government has attempted to incentivise multiple pieces of the ecosystem puzzle, starting with local manufacturing. By altering duty structures the government wants to promote more local manufacturing of PCs, LCD TVs and telecom equipment. Indian entrepreneurs and assemblers ought to take advantage of these moves and make local technology products more
affordable and easily available at the grassroots level.
Related to this is the much-talked about R10,000 fund that will aid domestic startups focusing on the small and medium business market. Combined with another R500 crore to
encourage technology-enabled agri-businesses, rural and underprivileged entrepreneurs, I feel the time is ripe for Indian entrepreneurs to start up and break out.
Within the ecosystem theme also count the initiatives to take broadband and IT skills into India’s villages and classrooms. There’s much-cited evidence that shows how broadband penetration and computer literacy can increase a country’s GDP. Lastly I noted a new and keen awareness in the budget toward software products. Given how software is the end-user “feature” that drives purchase and use of devices, this too will aid the virtuous priming of ecosystem. Thus from manufacturing to entrepreneurship to broadband to education, the budget shows a willingness to consider all pieces of India’s technology ecosystem that is welcome.
If the ecosystem theme was about nurturing entrepreneurs, plugging broadband holes and encouraging local software development, the other theme—the use of technology as an efficiency and governance enabler— is about long-term foundation laying. Executed well, this theme will allow subsequent budgets to take much bolder leaps across entire industry sectors.
To begin with, by mandating that all central