Budget has a strong focus on innovation and R&D

The Union Budget for 2015-16 is a far-sighted and inclusive budget that reflects positive messages and incentives that will carry forward the…

The Union Budget for 2015-16 is a far-sighted and inclusive budget that reflects positive messages and incentives that will carry forward the government’s momentum in growing India’s economy by raising its international profile as being more investment-friendly, business-friendly, fairer and transparent. The finance minister’s budgetary announcements have evoked a sense of optimism among the citizens and the industry along with the hope that we can look forward to lower inflation, a stronger rupee and a GDP of 7.4% by the end of 2015. The growth rate for the economy in 2015-2016 is expected to be around 8-8.5% with double-digit growth expected soon.

Besides reforms to taxation schemes for the corporate sector, education and skill building, this budget called out for greater investment and revitalisation of the PPP model. There is a strong and welcome focus on building and boosting infrastructure, driving manufacturing through the Prime Minister’s visionary ‘Make in India’ policy, and support of R&D and innovation through innovative schemes.

The finance minister showed a roadmap on the expectations from the corporate and IT sectors for simplification of tax regimes. We welcome the forward-thinking changes in taxation starting with the reduction in corporate tax from 30% to 25% over the next four years and the rationalisation of custom duty.

Digital India, Broadband & Smart Cities
The commitment made by the government towards infrastructure was evident in the increase in infrastructure by R70,000 crore. The budget focused on innovation, R&D and scientific research and allotted R150 crore towards these areas. The year 2015-16 will see the speeding up of National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) reimbursement to states and an additional fund of R1,200 crore was allotted towards the Delhi-Mumbai Infrastructure Corridor (DMIC). These are important milestones for the realisation of the Prime Minister’s ‘Digital India’ vision.

Dispute resolution on contracts has been the bane of public private partnership. Industry welcomes the focus on procurement law, the proposal to introduce a Public Contracts (resolution of disputes) Bill to streamline institutional arrangement for resolution of disputes.

Cisco remains committed to be India’s leading enabler of ICT, broadband and smart cities through its range of innovative, scalable, high-value technology offerings, solutions and services. We look forward to playing the role of partner and providing impetus to drive ‘Digital India’.

2015-16 will see the start of transformation of Visakhapatnam as the first of India’s 100 Smart Cities. Cisco is playing a leading role in enabling Smart Cities in India including our work in providing ICT master planning to 4 cities in DMIC.

The allotment of R1,000 crore for the development and promotion of start-ups, particularly in the IT and technology sectors, is encouraging for start-ups to develop IP and innovate patentable technologies. This budget shows the government’s stand on supporting innovation and technology start-up growth as a driver of employment and growth opportunities in India. Schemes like Self-Employed Talent Utilisation (SETU) will go a long way to encourage young innovative entrepreneurs in the technology start-up sector. Cisco applauds start-up growth initiatives that turn youth from job seekers to job creators thus transforming India into an innovation-driven nation.

In India, the innovation and start-up environment has grown tremendously in the last few years and we believe we can play a role in triggering the start-up growth in the country through our initiatives such as the India Innovation Fund, which has an allocation of $40 million for start-up innovations.

Skills Development and Education
The financial commitment to employability and the creation of jobs was clear with the announcement of initiatives such as the National Skills Mission (for rural youth) and the establishment of National Skills Council. Strongly emphasising on upgrading and developing people’s skills through vocational education and training, the government’s National Policy on Skill Development has set a target for providing skills to 500 million people by 2022.

Commitment to education was manifested by announcements to upgrade 80,000 secondary schools, and the creation of a number of educational institutions like IITs, IIMs and AIIMs across the country. This will ensure that more skilled workers enter the Indian workforce and consequently force the pace of economic development.

Cisco has a huge opportunity to create innovative solutions for a ‘Digital India’ that could be adopted globally.

Cisco’s vision to transform the lives of 1.2 billion Indians along with our expertise and leadership in the Internet of Everything, cloud, mobility and the Internet of Things is well aligned to the government’s commitment to country transformation. Cisco will continue to partner with the government and industry to play a transformational role and create new solutions, capabilities and offer richer experiences to
India’s citizens, the government and the industry.

Dinesh Malkani
President, Cisco India and SAARC

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First published on: 02-03-2015 at 02:18 IST