Although an interim Budget, the 2024-25 Budget has profound and long-term transformative implications for the Indian economy. Firstly, this budget marked a milestone in India’s journey towards becoming ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047, with a continued focus on leveraging technology as the backbone of transformation. “Digital Public Infrastructure, a new factor of production in the 21st century, is instrumental in formalization of the economy,” acknowledged finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech.
As asserted in a recent report by the Department of Economic Affairs, the use of technology and digital platforms has been the common thread across all reforms undertaken by the government. Digitalisation has led to substantial progress in terms of financial inclusion and economic opportunity, for all strata of society. This budget has further emphasised the need to build on this momentum, with several announcements expected to shape and strengthen the economic foundation built over the last decade.
Strengthening Digital India
Among several noteworthy steps, the budget’s emphasis on the central role of research and innovation in catalyzing growth, employment and development is commendable. This acknowledges the significant talent capital that exists in India and the need to spur innovation by ensuring skill development and financial support, especially in today’s business environment.
The establishment of large numbers of new institutions of higher learning, namely 7 IITs, 16 IIITs, 7 IIMs, 15 AIIMs and 390 universities reinforces the focus on higher education in this technology-driven epoch. The establishment of a corpus of INR 1 lakh crore (with a fifty-year interest free loan) to provide long-term financing/refinancing with long tenors and low or nil interest rates is certainly a welcome move. The decision to extend existing tax benefits to startups for another year will also be highly beneficial.
The scheme to strengthen application of deep-tech in the defense sector will also provide a much-needed impetus to self-reliance for the country.
Prioritizing Green Growth
The government’s continued emphasis on sustainable growth, with technology, once again takes center-stage. The steps expand and augment the EV (Electric Vehicles) ecosystem, through bolstering manufacturing and charging infrastructure, as well as increased adoption of e-buses, is a step towards greater clean mobility, both from the public and the private sector perspective. I was extremely happy to note several provisions to amplify green energy generation, including viability gap funding for harnessing offshore wind energy potential. These measures, coupled with consistent policy support, certainly marks a significant step towards achievement of India’s ambitious target of Net-Zero by 2070.
The provisions of Budget 2024, with a strong emphasis on sustainable and technology-driven growth, will undoubtedly serve as a powerful catalyst for the realization of our collective dream of a prosperous and self-reliant Viksit Bharat by 2047.
The writer is MD and CEO of LTIMindtree