Industry Leaders' Reactions to the Union Budget 2023

Industry Leaders' Reactions to the Union Budget 2023

With a slew of announcements that happened for the budget 2023, industry Leaders’ have had mixed reactions to the Union Budget 2023. Following are some of the top industry experts' post-budget responses.

Raaja Kanwar, Chairman and Managing Director, Apollo Supply Chain and Apollo International Limited, said, "The Union Budget 2023 lays out a credible roadmap towards the development of transport infrastructure and last-mile connectivity. We congratulate the budget for making Green Growth one of the top 7 priorities; focusing on ease of doing business. As, Apollo Supply chain, we look forward to resolving the inefficiencies in the country’s supply chain."

JBS Singh, Director MOVIN Express, said, "The budget is in line with the government's long-term goal of having a successful and integrated logistics industry. This industry will be more competitive with this budget. The effective multimodal connectivity initiative will act as a catalyst for the overall sector's improvement. Logistics is established as a major economic pillar by the government's emphasis on the railway infrastructure and crucial transport projects for first and last mile delivery of the specified sectors. Additionally, the emphasis on upskilling people and introduction of the digital infrastructure will lead to more young employment in this sector, establishing a complete ecosystem. This would help in lowering the cost of logistics while also facilitating trade and bringing India into compliance with international standards."

John Kallelil, Founder & CEO, XED, said, “The education budget in India has exceeded Rs 1 lakh crore last year due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a shift towards digital learning. However, the sector has only achieved 3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product allocation recommended by the National Education Policy (NEP 2020). Although the Union Budget 2022 emphasized digital learning, there were concerns among experts and academics that there was insufficient allocation for expanding digital infrastructure. By November 30, 2022, the government had only released 51 percent of the allocated funds for SSA. The Budget session 2023 is underway and it remains to be seen if the government will increase funding for the education sector and prioritize the expansion of digital infrastructure.”

Chandresh Sharma - CEO, Techpanion, said, “We anticipate that the Union Budget would focus more on stabilizing the Indian macro economy and strengthening the macro economy will soothe the nerves of the bond and forex markets for India.
India’s envisioned technology-driven economy for 2023, includes a technology-driven and knowledge-based economy, with strong public finances and a robust financial sector. We are glad that the world has also recognized India as a bright star, our growth for the current year is estimated at 7.0%, which is the highest among all major economies, in spite of massive global slowdown caused by pandemic and the war.
Also, we are looking ahead to the centers of excellence to empower technology via AI. Both ‘Make AI for India’ & ‘Make AI work for India’ will play a transformative role in 2023.”
Vasudeva Rao Munnaluri, RVP India & SAARC, Zendesk, said, “Amid shrinking budgets and an economic downturn, businesses are increasingly having to do more with less and the importance of Artificial Intelligence in a time like this cannot be overstated. The Union Budget’s focus on ‘Make AI work in India’ is a much needed move to develop more skilled talent in the AI field and set new standards for India’s growth. Our recent CX Trends Report revealed a gap between consumer expectations and business priorities - 84% of Indian consumers expect AI interactions to become more natural and human-like over time, but less than half of Indian businesses (45%) plan to invest in such technologies in the next 12 months when it comes to their customer experience. The government’s move will accelerate the development of India’s AI ecosystem, especially at a time when businesses - particularly MSMEs - face budget constraints when making strategic investments into technology. The Rs 9,000 crore corpus fund and tax concessions made for this sector in the budget will help boost tech adoption among small businesses, and accelerate progress towards a Digital India.”
Kartik Shahani, Country Manager, Tenable India, said, “From digitizing government services to creating centralized online databases for citizen and government services and more — the Union Budget 2023-24 has made strategic allocations in turning the wheels of innovation in India. With the 76% increase in UPI transactions in India since 2019, the government has given a major push towards simplifying KYC norms and its proposal to adopt a risk-based approach to KYC is a welcome move for businesses in the country. 
It is at this precipice that organizations, both public and private, must focus on building cyber resilience by adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity. This is because cybercrime is the biggest concern for organizations in the country. 
With such a massive impetus for digitally-driven growth in India, organizations must focus on gaining visibility into the entire attack surface. This includes identifying vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, internet-facing assets and attack pathways. The push for R&D leveraging 5G technologies for IoT, mechatronics, AI, Industry 4.0, and drones would also require these organizations to focus on embedding security at the start of the software development lifecycle. Adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity with exposure management that gives complete visibility into the attack surface will put organizations in the best position to reduce their cyber risk.”
Dr. Mukesh Gandhi, Founder and CEO, Creative Synergies Group,said, “India’s present economic growth is estimated at 7%, which is an optimistic projection for businesses across industries, despite predicted economic headwinds. As India treads on the path to becoming a global economy, the Union Budget 2023 placed a strong impetus on skill learning, job creation, technology-driven schemes and sustainability. On the skill training front, the Budget announced plans to set up over thirty Skill India Centers structured around industry 4.0 technologies such as IoT, AI, and robotics, and set forth the plans of launching three Centers of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence under “Make AI in India” and “Make AI Work for India” schemes. This has the potential to diminish concerns around the Indian IT sector’s 5 lakh talent gap in the coming years. Additionally, taking its green goals forward, the Finance Minister announced plans to replace state-owned old fuel vehicles. This, coupled with the push for India’s transition to reach 5 MMT of green hydrogen production by 2030 and outlay of Rs 35,000 crore for energy transition investment, the time is ripe for automotive OEMs to accelerate their EV production. Also, considering the extended infusion of Rs 9,000 Cr for MSMEs under Credit Guarantee scheme, small-scale businesses in the automotive industry have the opportunity to produce technologically advanced products and consider collaboration with next generation technology vendors.”
Nitish Rai, CEO and Co-Founder, FreightFox, said, "The 2023 budget is poised to have a significant impact on the logistics sector. With a focus on modernizing infrastructure and incorporating cutting-edge technology, the budget aims to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the industry. The allocation of resources toward the development of ports, highways, and other transportation networks will enhance connectivity and promote the seamless movement of goods. Furthermore, the government has increased spending on dedicated freight corridors and logistics infrastructure, which in turn will revolutionize the way goods are moved, tracked, and managed. Also, with decreased excise on compressed biogas (CBG) we can expect to see an increase in CBG production,  making transport a lot greener. The 2023 budget, thus presents a unique opportunity for the logistics sector to grow and thrive, positioning it for long-term success."
Mahesh Kulkarni, Co-Founder and MD, AFour Technologies, an ACL Digital Company, said, "The 2023 budget recognizes the transformative power of technology and the importance of investing in the IT and software sector.   The allocation of resources toward developing innovative solutions and implementing new technologies will drive growth and competitiveness in the industry. Investments in research and development for cutting-edge software will help companies stay ahead of the curve.
Furthermore,  the budget also strongly emphasized cybersecurity, recognizing it as a critical issue in today's digital landscape. Developing secure systems and networks will help protect sensitive information and stay ahead of evolving cyber threats. The 2023 budget presents a unique opportunity for the IT and software sector to thrive, positioning it for long-term success."

Manish Godha, Founder & CEO, Advaiya Solutions, said, “The budget has a lot of right ideas, which make this quite opportune for sustained growth of the economy. With global headwinds, it is heartening that the focus is on modernizing the economy, and while the long-term investments have not been ignored. Thrust on digital, AI, and formalization of commerce would bear fruit as new business models and entrepreneurship would evolve and take benefits from the same--fueling overall growth. From the perspective of tech and consulting, we believe it will unlock many opportunities to transform Indian businesses and the governance transformation would only propel this further. With slowing down global markets, this should allow the Indian IT industry to pivot in a significant manner, with capabilities, innovation and IP becoming drivers of growth rather than cost arbitrage.”

Ritesh Kumar, Country Lead for Wiley in India, "It is encouraging to see the Indian Government's strong and rounded commitment towards promoting research and innovation, education, literacy, skilling, employability and job creation in the Union Budget 2023. This will truly help leverage India's demographic dividend and build a strong, competitive, and future-ready youth.

We are particularly excited to see the special focus laid on setting up facilities for research and centers of excellence. The establishment of National Digital Library along with availing non-curricular books in regional languages is another step in the right direction. It will improve literacy among children and adolescents. Aligned with the Government’s vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, we are happy to see the government’s continued and strong impetus on skilling, employability, and job creation. It will help our youth unlock their full potential.
At Wiley, we remain committed to supporting academic and scientific research and career-connected education. We look forward to working with the government and other stakeholders to help achieve these goals. We believe that a strong focus on research, education, and skilling will help drive economic growth and social development in India and we are proud to be a part of this journey."
Pranav Goel, CEO & Co-Founder, Porter, said, “Welcoming the Union Budget 2023, we applaud the extremely well-thought and positive development measures taken by the Government of India to further the roadmap for sustainable growth and incentivize the industry for adopting sustainable practices. 
The investment plan of INR 75,000 crore for 100 critical transport infra projects including the capital outlay of Rs 2.40 lakh crore for railways will enhance the multimodal  logistics ecosystem, aiding the sector to be more streamlined. 
We are elated with the move to expand the scope of Digilocker. With this, the KYC process will be simplified and the move to use Permanent Account Number (PAN) as a common identifier for all Digital Systems of specified government agencies will encourage an efficient maintenance system for enterprises and MSMEs moving forward.
Moreover, with the revamped credit guarantee for the engines of our economy, MSMEs will have the right access to growth, thereby enabling the nation's growth. 
The push for green growth in budget 2023, promoting green energy, green mobility including other sustainable initiatives will help in reducing carbon intensity of the economy and will provide for large green-scale job opportunities. Policy interventions like replacing the old polluting vehicle will pave way for efficient use of energy across the sustainable logistics ecosystem. 
With India being the 3rd largest ecosystem for startups globally and ranking 2nd in innovation quality among middle income countries, the tax benefits for the startup community will play a pivotal role in shaping the high growth sector.” 
L C Singh, Director and Executive Vice Chairman of Nihilent, commented, "The forward-looking budget announced by the FM provides an impetus to key growth areas. Increasing the capex outlay to Rs 10 lakh crore for infrastructure development will enhance private investments to a great extent. Skilling is a current imperative for our talented youth; hence the announcement to set up Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0 is a step in the right direction to secure their future.
To unleash the potential of our economy and simplify ease of doing business, eliminating 39000 compliances and 3400 legal provisions is a step in the right direction, which will also boost entrepreneurship. The FM's significant amendment in direct tax announcements will lead to consumption-based growth and reverse brain drain, building a robust talent pool in India. Setting up Centres of Excellence to boost AI in India is yet another futuristic move that will propel India to greater heights in the technology space and cement our role in what is popularly described as the 'techade."
Deepak Shrivastava, Managing Director, Indian Subcontinent, UPS, said, “The Union Budget for 2023 recognises the strides taken by the Indian economy to be the fifth largest in the world and reinforces a sustainable economic development agenda for the future.
Action on strengthening infrastructure and supporting MSMEs will help speed up supply chain growth and boost cross-border trade. Plan to set up more airports and heliports, proposed urban infrastructure investment for tier two and three cities will strengthen regional connectivity, which is important to facilitate trade. Exports are key for global trade and for the logistics sector to be globally competitive in order to support India’s target of a $5 trillion economy. Reduction in customs duties for certain sectors will support the government's target of an exponential jump in goods and services exports.
MSMEs are crucial not just for the logistics industry but also for the overall economic growth of India. Therefore, it’s good news that the government has focussed on their finance requirements with a revamped credit guarantee scheme and access to collateral free loans.
It’s also extremely encouraging to see the push towards green growth. It signals a clear shift and focus on sustainability and the environment.
Overall, integrated planning, co-ordinated implementation of projects and a supportive policy framework will be extremely important and will likely have a positive long-term impact for the logistics sector.”
Dr. Kailash Katkar, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Quick Heal Technologies, said, “In the year 2022, India witnessed an unprecedented increase in cyberattacks and their level of sophistication. Cybercriminals are using new and advanced AI technology to attack Indian government agencies and businesses in India to cause significant damage to the country’s reputation. The 2023 Union Budget showcased our government's focus on strengthening the digital infrastructure of the country, which finds a clear reflection in the National Data Governance policy which will create a secure channel to access anonymized data. This budget fully supports the vision of a self-reliant and cyber-safe India. Some of the key takeaways include the three centers of excellence for artificial intelligence to enable 'Make AI for India' and 'Make AI work for India', online training platforms for government employees, impetus on creating informative and accessible digital public infrastructure for agriculture and the setting up of a National Digital Library for children and adolescents amongst others. With this, I am confident that cybersecurity has become more relevant than ever, and will be the make or break for the economic progress.”

Nishant Behl, Founder, and CEO of Expand My Business, said, "The union budget announced by the FM today strongly defines the direction in which the country’s entrepreneurial transformation is headed to. This year’s budget is positive, pragmatic, and entirely committed to support innovation in the country to accelerate the economy. For startups, the government has extended tax benefits on their incorporation by another year and the carry forward of losses to set off against future profits will now be allowed for 10 years instead of 7 years. Receiving the government’s support through such provisions is quite heartening for budding enterprises, especially since the entire world is experiencing an economic slowdown. Also, policies like increased industry-academia collaboration through National Data Governance Policy, simplified KYC process and access to anonymised data will also positive push for the startups in India to flourish and expand. Entrepreneurship is vital for a country’s economic development and India, and it is heartening to see the government take positive steps in this direction."

Sujit Patel, Founder and CEO, SCS Tech, said, "Centre's focus on AI: Threecentres of excellence for artificial intelligence to enable 'Make AI for India'and 'Make AI work for India', says FMAs the nation advancesto the next level of technology and with the introduction of 5G, the governmenthas expansive plans to establish a Centre of Excellence in ArtificialIntelligence. India will transition to a digital society and for that, itbecomes important to focus on digital transformation and cyber securitysolutions.The budget report evaluateshow AI will be used to boost India's economy, along with proposals for numerousfields where AI can be deployed. Not only this will increase the effectivenessand productivity of the industry but also optimize the process to complete thetasks.Additionally, thiswill create new jobs and avenues for numerous start-ups and businesses toprovide solutions in industries like utilities, education, health, agriculture,and smart cities."

Tanuj Gangwani,Founder of Geniemode, said, "Today's budget for the first time offered a package of assistance for traditional artisans through the PM Vishwakarma KAushal Samman (PM VIKAS) scheme. This step is in the right direction and will enable artisans to improve their products' quality, scale and reach, integrating them with the MSME value chain. While tax rebates on personal income will benefit the commoner, we were expecting decriminalization of GST and TDS, which were not addressed in today's budget. Moreover, we were concerned about the high cotton prices and hoped a cotton price stabilization fund scheme would be installed. While the scheme wasn't introduced, the budget announcement spoke about adopting a cluster-based value-chain approach, encouraging collaboration between farmers, the state and the government, which will help reduce fluctuations in natural fibre, making it an overall positive value add."

Pankaj Gupta, Founder and CEO, EnableX, said, "I feel that the establishment of the centers of excellence for artificial intelligence to enable 'Make AI for India' and 'Make AI work for India’ is a great step towards mining the opportunities that the sector holds for our youth.

Digitization is our new reality and without a doubt, these labs show a concentrated effort to increase the range of opportunities in business models, employment potential, Intelligent transports systems, healthcare, and more.

The proposed 100 labs for development of applications leveraging 5G services is an exciting step to drive 5G adoption. The improved network connectivity & availability of rich media applications will create infinite opportunities especially in education & healthcare sectors"
Ram Iyer, Founder and CEO, Vayana Networ,  said, “The union budget of 2023 has been exceptionally consistent over the years in focus areas across Infrastructure, Agriculture, MSMEs and ease of doing business.
The capital expenditure has been increased by 33% to a historic high of INR10 lakh crores, showing government’s commitment to creating jobs and stimulating expenditure resulting in a multiplier effect pegging GDP growth at 7%.
Investments in development of public digital infrastructure for agriculture, facilitating data embassies in GIFT City, expanding the use of Digi Locker and setting up National Financial Information repository signal towards the continued focus on digitisation and broadening its access to the public.
Revamped Credit Guarantee Scheme for MSMEs is a significant move to support MSMEs' who have been battered by Covid related disruptions, the infusion of Rs 9000 crore into the corpus would undoubtedly benefit small business owners.
Concrete actionables towards ease of doing business in the form of PAN being a single identifier, reducing compliances and decriminalizing provisions are legislative steps ensuring ease of doing business.
Overall, it is a promising budget that continues to build on the groundwork laid during the previous budgets.”
Chitranshu Mahant, Founder of Primebook, said, "Given that India constitutes the 3rd largest startup ecosystem, we are glad that the government will set up a “Skill India Digital Platform” where digital skilling will be expanded and given focus. Setting up a hundred labs for developing applications using 5G services would be an area we at Primebook will look forward to supporting. Moreover, the infrastructure for Digital Library can also be facilitated by PrimeOS; thus, we are excited to see the future of this proposition. There is a need to encourage digitisation on the grass-root level to help reduce the digital divide.  We are glad that the Eklavya Model Residential Schools will be serving 3.5 lakh tribal students and making opportunities more accessible to economically weaker sections. We would have liked to see an allocation to develop smart classrooms because integrating technology for skill development and education is a key way to reach the bottom line and make a real difference. We also missed the government’s push towards the development of infrastructure and education in this announcement which are key pillars for economic growth."
Ashish Jhina, co-founder and COO, Jumbotail, said, “We founded Jumbotail in 2015 on the conviction that India’s food and agriculture sector could be transformed at scale to positively impact the lives of hundreds of millions of farmers, millions of MSMEs and a billion+ Indian consumers over the next decade - this budget only strengthens our conviction in the inevitability of this outcome. 
The proposed investments in today’s budget to promote consumption, production, credit/digital payments and market linkage through ecommerce and better logistics, coupled with initiatives to empower MSMEs (SHGs, cooperatives, small producers & kirana entrepreneurs) will speed up the transformation of India’s food and agricultural economy. This will create opportunities for large scale employment and a better standard of living for hundreds of millions of people in our country. 
More money in the hands of the middle class due to lower income taxes should boost consumption and demand for food and agri products. Digital public infrastructure for agriculture, the proposed Agriculture Accelerator fund, investments in the professionalization and scale-up of women SHGs, concessional tax incentives for cooperatives to manufacture will produce higher value agricultural and food products. Amendments to the CGST Act to enable unregistered suppliers and composition taxpayers to make intra-state supply of goods through E- Commerce Operators (ECOs) and easier credit availability through support for innovation in the fintech sector (KYC simplification, Entity Digilocker, National Financial Information Registry) will make it easier for millions of small producers to get their food and agri products to consumers through our country’s ubiquitous kirana ecosystem and to receive timely and efficient digital payments.”
Nishant Singh, Founder & CEO of  BUSINESSNEXT, said, “The Union Budget is both, a visionary in terms of its structured approach towards sustainable growth while being uncompromising towards immediate economical requirements. The ‘Financial sector’ in the Saptarishi definitely underlines the due importance of the BFSI sector in line with the ‘Inclusive Development’ agenda. National Financial Information Registry, unified document repository, change of approach in KYC process are the bundle moves aimed at easing and facilitating an efficient flow of credit to foster financial stability and enable an anchored economic upswing. Unleashing the potential of AI, ML, and technology thrust via the establishment of COEs is the continuation of digital focus on the government from the preceding budgets. Overall, the directions will propel India towards the next stage of making it financially and digitally rich.”

Siddharth Banerjee, Managing Director & SVP, India & Asia, Pearson on the education sector said, “We applaud the positive direction that The Union Budget 2023 has offered in specific to education, skilling and avenues for job-creation. The various announcements are well embraced, and are expected to create a multiplier effect towards making India a ‘job-creator economy’ leading to a progressive growth. Intensifying the efforts on upskilling, center of excellence and increase in jobs will be the enablers of employability for youth. We believe, Academia-industry partnerships further, will play a very important role in making this budget a reality for Indian Education System.”

 There is a clear focus on skilling and education in the Union Budget 2023-24 with Hon’ble Finance Minister Shri Nirmala Sitharaman laying down a blueprint and a future roadmap for skilling the youth and showing clear intention of developing infrastructure to spur growth in this sector.

 The Hon’ble Finance Minister has announced several proposals that will give a boost to the education sector with particular focus on skilling of the youth like The PM Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0 for new-age skill development shows long term vision for recognizing the need for new-age skills for industry and is a big initiative for skill development and recognition and standardization of skills. This will give Indian youth access to courses that can skill them in coding, robotics, drones, mechatronics, IoT, 3D printing, and essential soft skills so that they are ready for the global job industry. At the same time, the proposal to set up 30 Skill India International Centres across different states will give the Indian youth the opportunity to get skilled for international opportunities.

In a bid to build future ready digital infrastructure, the FM has announced the setting up of the National digital library for children and adolescents. This will help in improving the accessibility of quality books across various locations, languages and devices.

The proposal to set up Centres of excellence for AI research in three top educational institutions would help in realizing the vision of 'Make AI in India and Make AI Work for India' as well as getting the youth technology ready for the future.

At the same time, the launch of the integrated online training platform will help in providing continuous learning opportunities and upskilling of government employees.

We welcome the Education Budget 2023 that has strong foundations around upskilling, training programmes for teachers, tax exemptions on educational programmes and ramp up digital infrastructure.”

Bhanu Chopra, Founder & MD, RateGain Travel Technologies Limited on two perspectives said, “The key take away from the respected Finance Minister's budget for the tourism industry is the focus on leveraging technology to provide a seamless experience to both buyers and sellers. Tourism is one of the few industries that has crossed pre-pandemic levels of recovery, and a large part of that is because of the initiatives of the government in promoting domestic tourism, and the initiative taken to promote 50 destinations will only take this further.

What I loved about the budget presented by Hon. Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is the focused on up skilling, innovation and technology- the realization that the curriculum of today is no longer enough for people to succeed in the AI-enabled future.  The Minister's focus on involving educational establishments, and making center of excellences for innovation will bring a new mindset in future generations to experiment, fail, and pivot from a very young age - setting up a country that is agile, ever ready to embrace new technology, and be the economy that the world relies on to drive growth!

Prasad Rajappan Founder and MD, Zing HR said “The 2023 Union Budget marks a major milestone in the government's efforts to create opportunities for the youth of India, promote growth and fuel job creation while stabilizing the macro- economy. There is a significant outlay on Capex, aimed at benefiting the middle class and promoting consumerism which is a clear indication of the government's commitment to building a brighter future for all.  At ZingHR, we are excited to see the government's efforts to boost job creation, provide upskilling opportunities, and enable smart operational solutions through people management processes. These initiatives aim to unleash the potential of the Indian economy and nurture quality human resources, aligning with our mission of making HR simple, smart, and accessible. We believe that technology plays a crucial role in streamlining and evolving HR processes, to simplify compliance related complexities, and enable organizations to focus on their business growth with a push towards digitalization and formalization. We are confident that these initiatives by the Finance Minister, Smt N Sitaraman and Prime Minister Modi will foster entrepreneurship, create job opportunities, and build a strong and vibrant workforce. “

Manoj Paul, Managing Director, Equinix India said “With focused initiatives to promote the usage of AI and 5G, the Indian Government is geared up to leverage the advanced technologies for building future proof businesses and strengthening the digital ecosystem in the country. The emphasis on digitization results in a high demand for tech talent that’s technologically adept and skilled in digital know-how. With the three proposed centers of excellence for AI and 30 new International skill India centers, our government is all set to empower the youth with advanced tech skills. Additionally, the usage of 5G services by the proposed labs in engineering institutions will create a new range of opportunities, business models, and employment potential, lending a widespread purpose to 5G and increasing the need for a robust digital infrastructure. We welcome these government measures as we believe our digital infrastructure will play a pivotal role in boosting India’s digital growth.”

With our global climate neutral goal and 100% renewable energy coverage target, along with our green data center design innovations, Equinix can build and operate resilient, efficient and sustainable data centers to support the Government’s Green Growth focus and the National Green hydrogen mission that can help transition to low carbon intensity and reduce dependency on fossil fuel inputs.”

Vijendra Katiyar, Country Manager, India & SAARC, Trend Micro said “The latest Union Budget for FY 2023-24, presented by Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman places a strong emphasis on talent development, digital skills training, and upskilling. This is in response to India's current situation where only 48.7% of the country's youth are considered employable and many companies report a skill gap. The budget includes the launch of PMKVY 4.0, which is aimed at training a large number of youth in emerging technologies such as AI, robotics, mechatronics, and IOT. This investment in technology and skill development is expected to bridge the talent gap, create job opportunities, and empower the current workforce to remain competitive, positioning India as an important digital talent hub for the world.

The adoption of AI, ML and cloud computing is rapidly increasing across various sectors, which necessitates the adoption of cyber security not only after, but during the build process as well. The strengthening of skilling infrastructure announced in the budget is a timely response to this development. The Data Governance policy, which will enable access to anonymzed data, is also a crucial initiative that provides hope in the face of the growing threat of cyber-attacks.”

Khadim Batti, CEO and Co-founder, Whatfix said, “This year’s budget builds upon the 2022 Union budget agenda of startup growth initiatives such as extension in claiming tax benefits and skilling. With India leapfrogging the global Startup Ecosystem, the government has been taking favorable steps to fuel this growth which is reflected in the 2023 budget as well.”

The National Data Governance Policy, aimed at enabling anonymized data access by start-ups and academia, will help realize a holistic security solution towards data protection, be it on-premise, in the cloud, or hybrid environments - a must for every sector. An extension of the date of incorporation by one year for income tax benefits to start-ups from 31st March 2023 to 31st March 2024 will be appreciated by all entrepreneurs again this year, especially in today's macroeconomics. This move will help start-ups claim tax benefits for three consecutive years within the first ten years of incorporation. They now also have the benefit of carrying forward their losses on change of shareholding from seven years of incorporation to ten years - a great addition to this year's budget.

The IT industry contributed 7.4% of India’s GDP in FY22, and has been facing skills shortage and a limited workforce in recent times, which has been highlighted through multiple surveys. Today’s development ensures that the government’s focus is on enabling the youth by upskilling them on new-age technologies and digital skills such as AI, Robotics, etc. Leading industry players will partner in conducting interdisciplinary research, developing cutting-edge applications, and scalable problem solutions in agriculture, health, and sustainable cities. It will help provide a platform for budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts to test their theories and solutions and apply them in the current scenario. I feel these steps would propel the nation towards a digital transformation path, further strengthening India’s position in the technology industry.”

Niraj Hutheesing, MD & Founder at Cygnet Infotech said “The Budget has been a step in the right direction for strengthening GST compliance eco-system without levying additional burden on the taxpayers. There have been several taxpayer friendly steps such as allowing composition dealers to supply goods through e-comm operators, restricting filing of returns after a certain period to enforce compliance, decriminalising certain offences and raising the monetary threshold for launching prosecution. The amendments to clarify the intend of the law in certain cases is also a welcome step. The consent-based GST returns, e-invoice and e-way bill data has been allowed by inserting Section 158A to allow flow-based lending. This will enable the new age fintech companies to use such data and analytics to disrupt the traditional forms of doing business, target niche markets and orient their products to maximize consumer satisfaction.”

Dr. Santanu Paul, CEO and MD, TalentSprint said “We welcome the Government of India’s proposal to set up three "Centers of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence" in top educational institutions in collaboration with leading industries with the goal of researching and developing practical AI applications. AI is a horizontal technology, which means there are applications across industries in every sector.  While we would like to see the impact in agriculture, health, and sustainable cities, financial inclusion will need to be addressed too.  Inclusive banking and citizen-scale financial services is where AI must also make an impact.”

The $5 trillion economy that the government is pegging for will require AI to play a transformational role. I would say that besides the industries already mentioned by the Honorable Finance Minister, sectors that need to be considered for a sustainable future are automotive, aviation, education, housing, logistics and transportation. In all industries that are deeply intertwined with our modern experience, where we are actively involved as producers or consumers or beneficiaries, there will be immense impact. Simultaneously, focus needs to be on scaling up talent required to spearhead this evolved ecosystem, and to serve as the workforce of the future.

Rajnish Gupta, India and Sub-Continent Lead, Zebra Technologies APAC said “In this Union Budget, the government has set the tone to unleash both human and digital potential for the country’s socio-economic development. This is reflected from all the 7 key priorities including reaching the last mile, infrastructure and investment, youth power, inclusive development, unleashing the potential, green growth, and financial sector.

The government has shown a clear objective of raising the infrastructure development in the country as it plans to raise its capital expenditure by 33% to INR 10 trillion ($122.29 billion) in the next fiscal year. This will provide the much-needed impetus to the existing infrastructure schemes like Gatishakti, Bharatmala, Parvatmala, Sagarmala amongst others.

 Apart from this, with the announcement of PM Kausal Vikas Yojana 4.0, the government has set a clear agenda to make the Indian youth ready for next generation technologies. The initiative to train 47 lakh youths digitally on industry 4.0 technologies like AI, IoT, drone and 3D printing etc. will make them ready for the industry-specific roles. This will be key for the logistics sector as organizations have started deploying technologies to automate warehouse, supply-chain, and workforce management.”

Varun Babbar Managing Director - India & SAARC ,Qlik said, “The FY24 Union Budget is a progressive take on technology and skill development in the country. The proposed Centres of Excellence for AI to further "Make AI in India" and "Make AI work for India" could significantly boost STEM students and tech organisations and set India on the journey to becoming a hub for AI talent. It can provide the next generation of engineers an opportunity to develop their specialisation in AI. A robust AI ecosystem can help India generate multi-disciplinarian specialists like Data Analysts and Scientists, which aligns with the industry's current requirements. The collaboration between the top education institutions and industry players will help convert these plans into reality very soon. It is time for the technological revolution to activate private and public collaborative efforts. This will reinforce data-rich sectors to make impactful decisions in near real-time with intelligent analytics while delivering essential citizen services.

Dr. Manas Fuloria, CEO and Co-founder, Nagarro said, “It is definitely a responsible budget with an eye on the fiscal deficit. We are cheered by the steps taken to increase the ease of doing business, such as the use of PAN as the universal ID and the introduction of Digilocker; however, we hope the concept of ease of working between regulators and industry percolates to the operating levels. The investments in green energy are very welcome. Similar levels of investment to combat other sources of air pollution would have been desirable since the challenge there is equally acute and more immediate. The increase in the education budget is praiseworthy, along with the moves to promote AI, but the increase is still small. The productivity revolution that AI will bring may be fundamentally disruptive, and much higher levels of investment are needed, in my opinion, to thoroughly modernize our education.”

Savitha Reddy, Founder Language Station said, “In the Union Budget 2023, the Government of India has taken a number of measures to boost women entrepreneurs. These measures include providing additional funding to women-led startups and businesses, setting up a Women Entrepreneurial Platform (WEP), providing additional tax deductions and incentives to female entrepreneurs, and several other initiatives. The WEP will be a central platform that will provide mentorship, guidance, and other resources to female entrepreneurs.”

The Government has also allocated funds for setting up a Women Entrepreneurship Institute to promote the growth of women-led businesses in India. Furthermore, the Government has also announced a special credit line to help women entrepreneurs access finance. These measures will go a long way in helping women entrepreneurs to get the necessary resources to succeed in their businesses.

Shrikar Madhu, Co-founder Physi.Fit said, “The Indian government's recent push towards setting up AI-first labs has garnered attention from the technology and innovation sectors. These labs aim to develop AI applications that are specifically tailored to meet the needs and challenges of our 1.2 Billion population. The Indian government's interest in setting up AI-first labs will have a major impact on the development of deep tech applications with an India-first perspective. The AI models developed here must be equitable, adaptable, and trustworthy. Promoting public-private partnerships is crucial for improving clinical trials. This will help healthcare companies bring their products to market and provide point-of-care solutions at scale. The increased availability of data and collaboration with startups and academia will drive innovation in these areas.”

I strongly believe, when it comes to AI models and their applications, data is the most important factor in determining their effectiveness. Anonymous datasets will provide a benchmark for all AI-based solutions, especially those derived from Indian demographics. Previously, models had to be built using datasets from foreign universities and organizations, which were not designed with Indian consumer interests in mind and lacked deep customization and personalization capabilities. Further, the increased availability of data would improve the effectiveness of new and existing Artificial Intelligence-driven applications, while also reducing the barriers to entry into this domain.

Suresh Narasimha, Managing Partner of CoCreate Ventures said, “This year’s budget is interesting because of three things, the most important being government considers government to be a co-investor rather than just someone who is expensing all things, which is a marked difference from what we have seen over the years. Additionally, it's heartening to know government considered knowledge as an important infrastructure, which is reflected in several plans that were earlier laid out, whether it's about information around tourism or whether it's about data infrastructure. So, data infrastructure or even Digi locker government has started focusing on soft infrastructure and making it available. Lastly, to see is no start-up is not a separate line item, but start-ups and technology have been integrated into pretty much everything that the government is talking about.”

With a clear focus also being on promoting green energy it is clear on how India looks at green as an opportunity rather than just a commitment. I strongly believe in a strong opportunity to move towards creating green energy which can be exported, which is also reflected by the focus on storage. So, it’s possible to say government thinks green as green and energy as the next big opportunities where India has the potential to become an exporter.

However, the budget also missed out on some opportunities. There should have been slightly more concrete messaging toward crypto investors, that's a mistake. The second one, I was really hoping that there is some focus on attracting private investors into start-ups into LP and LPS, etc by providing capital gains tax by meeting capital gains tax demands that have been spoken for some years now.

But with the focus on skill development, AI, Agritech, and the government clearly looking at knowledge as an investment there will be a huge scope and opportunity for deep tech start-ups. The Government really should increase partnerships with start-up entrepreneurs in realizing the vision of India being the deep tech capital of the world.