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.”
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.
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."
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.
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.
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