By Ankit Agarwal,
Budget 2023: The Indian economy may have recovered from the pandemic, accomplishing a full recovery in FY22 before several other countries, and is in a position to return to the pre-pandemic growth path in FY23.
The first budget in the commencement of ‘Amrit Kaal’ is in the right direction to boost the economy. I have three key highlights which are: Capital investment in infrastructure, Empowering Rural India and an impetus on Skilling. All of them hinge on a robust digital economy as it is at the heart of all infrastructure and people related interventions in the country and the world over.
Increase in the capital expenditure outlay by 33% to INR 10L Cr, which is 3.3% of the GDP is expected to give a major push to infrastructure and job creation. It will help the Government’s CAPEX get aligned to the OECD average of 3.5% of nominal GDP. Additionally, the Government’s announcement to put INR 10,000 crore per year for urban infra development will further stimulate overall economic development. For both of these, there would be an additional push towards digital infrastructure to create smart cities, imparting smart education and so on and so forth.
As one of the largest telecom markets in the world, modern infrastructure and widespread mobile communication have greatly reduced the digital divide. With the spread of 5G services throughout the nation, India might soon have hundreds of thousands of connections. The development of more connected communication between customers, businesses and rural India is also being made possible by other developments like the internet of things and technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning.
However, we are far from the end of the road. Almost 85% of farmers operate less than 5 acres of land. Around 36 mn hectares of agri-land has been affected by natural calamities over 6 yrs (size of one Himachal Pradesh each year). Imagine a world where companies are able to integrate IoT sensors and analytics to improve the lives of farmers! Hon’ble Finance Minister. Smt Nirmala Sitharaman and the Government’s impetus on growing the agri tech industry is an indication of a truly inclusive country in the making. Fiber technology will be one of the key steps toward digital transformation for the agriculture sector in India.
Almost 60% of corporate leaders believe that lack of skills in the workforce is top risk. Start-ups and technologies are overhauling how we access education and skilling, but more work needs to be done here. The pandemic has intensified the need for a tech-enabled skilled workforce. Government, training institutes and corporates must ensure that they have a good grasp of the changing dynamics. Budget 2023 has put an important focus on skilling and training youth for the future for India and the world.
The Finance Minister used the word ‘Digital’ 22 times in her speech, which proves the importance of the digital sector for the development of the economy. In the next 5 years, we see 200K to 625K connected villages, 100Gbps of average data usage and 100 mn FTTH households. India’s digital backbone will be the multiplier for this vision and would require the expansion of 3 times the annual fibre deployment.
Last but not the least, the Government’s push towards green growth and amplified focus on India’s net-zero targets will be an important enabler and driver of economic growth. In line with last year’s budget, this year too the Government has tried to create a favorable environment that boosts communities. India is making progress in creating societies that are more cohesive and bridging the gaps that undermine our future development.