Budget 2022

A pit stop on the information highway

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Feb 01, 2018
An old farmer holding a digital tablet

An old farmer holding a digital tablet

Centre moves ahead in connecting the unconnected, but privacy issues remain

Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Digital India mission in 2015, successive Budgets have given lot of weightage and resources to projects under this mission. This year too the Finance Minister has announced a plethora of proposals including doubling the total allocation to ₹3,073 crore, additional ₹10,000 crore for the pan-India broadband network — BharatNet and establishment of 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots in rural geographies.

Prakash Mallya, Managing Director, Sales & Marketing Group, Intel India, said, “Today’s Budget clearly pivots on a digital-first India, and recommendations made by the FM relate directly to the potential we see in the country.”

There are a number of takeaways from the Budget. First, the NITI Aayog effort to institutionalise research and development in artificial intelligence reinforces the value that machine learning can bring to issues of national importance. If synergised with the work being done by the academia and industry, we can expect fast emerging use cases that can democratize AI in India.

Blockchain application

Second, exploring the application of blockchain in governance is a strong indicator of the government's intent to improve citizen services without compromising on security, especially as Aadhaar gets linked to citizen accounts. And finally, the DoT’s establishment of an indigenous 5G centre is an encouraging sign of the government’s view of collaboration with the broader technology ecosystem as the best strategy to accelerate the rollout of 5G infrastructure in India.

Benoy CS, Director, Digital Transformation (ICT) Practice, Frost & Sullivan said, “Government’s plan to set up a Centre of Excellence to accelerate the adoption of new age technologies like Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and IoT will help in modernisation and automation of several industrial applications in the country, which in turn will help Indian companies in improving productivity and effectively compete at global scale.”

Industry experts, however, said the focus should be now on execution of projects. The broadband network under Bharat Net,for example, has been delayed due to procedural issues. The Centre also needs to move faster on formulating laws for privacy and digital data protection.

“It is encouraging to see the government’s focus on promoting development and use of the cutting edge technologies which will not only impact the economy but facilitate everyday life for its citizens. At the same a faster pace need to be made to introduce or amend the laws to regulate the usage of these technologies. With this we expect the passage of Data Privacy Bill soon,” said Anand Bhushan, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas – a leading law firm in India.

While at an overall level, Budget provides some indirect boost for growth of technology industry, it once again turned a blind eye to the challenging state of telecom industry in the country.

The operators have been under a financial crisis and were hoping to get some relief.

“For realising the Prime Minister’s vision of a fully connected and empowered Digital India, we reiterate that the telecom industry is deeply disappointed that none of our key asks have found mention in the Budget,” said Rajan Mathews, Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India.

Published on February 01, 2018

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