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Union Budget 2021: Govt’s ‘Digital India’ Efforts and Tech Highlights


As the world moves towards complete digitalization in the post-Covid era, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduced a ‘Made in India’ tablet replacing the traditional briefcase before presenting Budget 2021. That’s certainly a big step towards a paperless Budget that aims to reinforce PM Narendra Modi’s ambitious ‘Digital India’ mission. The FM didn’t announce any sops to boost the IT-BPM industry this year, but given the role of the technology in the growth of Digital India, the government has announced some measures and favorable policies in creating the digital infrastructure and the ecosystem to support the country’s growth and innovation.

Here are the key highlights for boosting tech and digital initiatives at the Union Budget 2021-22:

  •  The government proposes to build a world-class fintech hub at GIFT City, Gandhinagar

The FM said that the government will facilitate setting up of a world class fintech hub in Gujarat International Finance Tec (GIFT) city. The GIFT City is a planned business district that spans over 886 acres of land and includes office spaces, residential apartments, schools, hospital, hotels, clubs, retail and various recreational facilities. That’s a great move considering India is one of the fastest-growing fintech markets in the world. The fintech market in India is expected to reach Rs 6,207.41 billion by 2025, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.7 per cent during the 2020-2025 period, according to ResearchAndMarkets.

  • NCLT framework to be strengthened and e-courts implemented

In light of Supreme Court’s Order in 2020 to explore video conferencing for hearings to extensively use video-conferencing for judicial proceedings, the FM endorsed the setting up of more e-courts for litigants to file and hear matters. She said that the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) will be strengthened and e-courts implemented across the country. E-Court’s mission project is the largest undertaking to make courts digitized in order to increase the efficiency and efficacy of the judiciary.maintain social distancing amid coronavirus pandemic.

  • FM announces Rs 1.15 lakh crore for Railway digitization

The FM said the Indian Railways has prepared a National Rail Plan for India 2030. The plan is to create a future-ready railways system by 2030. The government aims to bring down the logistic cost for industry to enable Make in India by effective use of technology.

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will restart e-catering services from February 1, 2021). Initially, services will start at 62 stations in the first phase. The stations selected for the first phase of resumption include New Delhi, Lucknow, Bhopal, Surat, Pune, Ahmedabad, Howrah, Patna, Vijayawada, Ernakulam, Ujjain and Panvel.

  • Relief for remote workers/gig workers

Revised fiscal deficit pegged at 9.5% for FY21, FY22 expenditure outlay at Rs 34.8 lakh crore
To further extend efforts towards unorganized labor force, a portal to be launched to collect relevant information on gig workers, building/construction workers among others. The increase in remote workforce will boost in business for hardware companies, as the country will likely see a surge in sales of laptops, tablets, smartphones and printers.

  • India to have first-ever digital census

Union Budget allocates Rs 3,768 crore for this “monumental task” he 2021 national census of India will be held digitally, said Ms. Sitharaman during her Union Budget 2021 speech. She confirmed that the upcoming census of India would become the very first one in the history of India to be held digitally, marking India’s transit towards digitizing government and public services, and continue transiting towards paperless operation systems. The proposal will boost software companies that build and run IT-enabled infrastructure.

  • Digital voter ID card

From 1 February, all voters will be able to download their digital voter ID card if their mobile number of linked with the Election Commission. The e-voter card will be available in the PDF format and cannot be edited. The digital voter ID card can be self-printed and laminated by the voter when required.

  • Govt to reduce compliance of one person companies

Budget provides Rs 15,700 crore to MSME sector, more than double of last year. Plus it aims to reduce compliance of one person companies, which is a big boost for startups, especially in the tech and digital space.

Punit Modhgil, Chief Research Officer, Octane Research believes MSME redefinition and incorporation of start-ups made it easier.”Enabling one-person companies is a huge step forward for encouraging start-ups in India as it provides more flexibility for entrepreneurs. Changes to Paid up capital and turnover restriction is a welcome idea but there is a need to reduce regulatory and compliance overheads for very young companies. We anticipate this should act as a multiplier effect to start up an ecosystem in India,” he said.

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