Interim Budget 2024 Pivots Towards Tech-Driven Innovation, Sparks Enthusiasm in EV Industry

Here are the key highlights of the interim budget presented by India’s Finance Minister.

On February 1, 2024, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Interim Budget in the Lok Sabha. The full budget will be presented later in July this year once the new government is formed after the Lok Sabha Elections.

Named ‘Viksit Bharat,’ the budget paints a vision of a flourishing nation characterized by a symbiotic relationship with advanced infrastructure and abundant opportunities for every citizen. Here are the noteworthy facets of the budget:

  • Technology and Innovation: The budget allocates funds for technology-driven innovation, focusing on deep-tech, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML). A ₹1 lakh crore corpus with a 50-year interest-free loan has been set aside to encourage private-sector investment in research and innovation.
  • Environmental Initiatives: The commitment to Net Zero by 2070 includes funding for offshore wind energy, biomass aggregation machinery, and the growth of the e-vehicle sector, aligning with global climate change efforts.
  • Fiscal Policies: Stability for businesses is maintained through consistent tax rates, including import duties. 
  • Infrastructure and Economic Growth: A significant increase in capital expenditure outlay to 11.11 lakh crores and a focus on railways, ports, and airports signify a commitment to economic growth. Three major economic railway corridor programs under PM Gati Shakti aim to enhance connectivity and logistics efficiency. 
  • Agriculture and Agritech: Measures to strengthen agriculture value chains, reduce wastage, and support agri-tech through credit access and infrastructure development.
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Ecosystem: Actively promote the EV ecosystem through manufacturing support, charging infrastructure, and incentives for e-bus adoption.
  • Skill Development and Education: Prominent focus on the Skill India Mission, encompassing extensive upskilling, reskilling, and backing for esteemed higher education institutions such as IITs and IIMs. The Skill India Mission has undertaken a noteworthy initiative, aiming to train 1.4 crore young individuals, coupled with upskilling and reskilling endeavors for 54 lakh youth. Additionally, the establishment of 3,000 new Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) reinforces the commitment to skill development.
  • Cybersecurity and Technology Adoption: Increased budget allocation from INR 400 crores to INR 750 crores for cybersecurity projects.

Industry Reactions:

Industry responses express general optimism, with stakeholders appreciating the strategic vision and alignment with industry goals. Positive comments highlight the budget’s potential to drive sustained foreign investment, propel infrastructure development, and address skill gaps, fostering innovation and growth across sectors.

Quotes from the industry leaders

  • Arun Shukla, President and Director, JK Lakshmi Cement: The Government’s strategic focus on all forms of infrastructure, be it digital, social, or physical, and a strong emphasis on women’s empowerment resonates with our forward-looking mission. The significant increase in infrastructure outlay to INR 11.11 lakh crores and the emphasis on green growth shows the Government’s pursuit to propel our nation toward economic excellence.
  • Bimal Khandelwal, CFO, STT GDC India: The noteworthy outlay of Rs 11.11 lakh crores for infrastructure development, focusing on technology, is a promising move. This budget holds the potential to positively impact the data center industry, fostering innovation and growth. The emphasis on technology, innovation, and infrastructure aligns seamlessly with the evolving needs of the data center sector, and we anticipate contributing significantly to India’s digital journey.
  • Manoj Nair, Head of India GDC, Fujitsu India: With 1.4 crore youth upskilled and reskilled, the announcement of higher learning institutions, including IITs and IIMs, will help India address the AI skill crunch and bridge the gap effectively. Additionally, the Government’s corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore with a 50-year interest-free loan will encourage the private sector to scale up research and innovation significantly in sunrise domains.
  • Rahul Garg, Founder and CEO, Moglix: Establishing new infrastructure corridors for ports, energy, minerals, and cement will boost manufacturing and supply chains. Doubling the number of airports to 149 will energize the aviation sector. As a manufacturing-focused company, we welcome the government’s aim to enhance the EV ecosystem through manufacturing and charging infrastructure support. The proposed bio-manufacturing scheme for green growth aligns with our sustainability mission.
  • Puneet Gupta, VP & MD, NetApp India/SAARC: The Honourable Finance Minister has acknowledged the potential of deep technologies like AI to transform varied industry sectors. In addition, the GoI’s focus on training, upskilling, and reskilling the nation’s youth through the Skill India mission is likely to place India well on the global map of tech-savvy nations. 
  • Debashis Chatterjee, MD & CEO, LTIMindtree: The Skill India Mission has helped in building a highly skilled workforce, and the Rs. 1 lakh crore corpus with interest-free loans for tech-savvy youth will be a true game-changer. This will fuel innovation and entrepreneurship, fostering the next generation of tech leaders. As we strive towards achieving the goal of “Viksit Bharat” by 2047, LTIMindtree stands committed to partnering with the government in its digital transformation journey.
  • Sunil Sharma, VP-Sales, Sophos India & SAARC: The government’s steadfast commitment to increasing the cybersecurity budget from INR 400 crores to INR 750 crores within a year is a noteworthy development within the industry, and promises to address cybersecurity threats that may endanger the rapidly digitizing nation
  • Sachin Panicker, Chief AI Officer, Fulcrum Digital: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s sixth consecutive budget presentation sets a decisive course for India’s future, rooted in the vision of ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047. The government’s emphasis on GDP – Governance, Development, and Performance- lays a stable framework for sustainable growth. With a focus on empowering youth and fostering innovation, the budget outlines a roadmap for unprecedented development over the next five years.
  • Anand Sri Ganesh, CEO, NSRCEL IIM Bangalore: The encouraging surge of 28% in female enrollment in higher education over the past decade demonstrates women’s growing role in shaping India’s entrepreneurial landscape. We are excited about government support for green growth for the ventures in EV infrastructure and climate tech entrepreneurs too.

Image Source: Freepik

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