Reflections on Budget 2022 – Digital

By Meghna Misra-Elder

The theme for Budget 2022 was clearly ‘digitisation’. It showed the Governments vision to digitise every aspect of the economy taking ‘Digital India’ to the next level. The Finance Minister (FM) proposed several initiatives, and the underpinning factor was the use of technology across sectors be it agriculture, finance, education, healthcare and pharma, transportation and logistics, manufacturing or boosting small and medium enterprises.

This will, no doubt, provide significant opportunities for the technology industry which applauds the direction the Government is taking towards its aim to become a USD 5 trillion economy.

The FM announced the proposal to set up 5 digital banking units in 75 districts by scheduled commercial banks and called for the industry, particularly the telecom companies, to assist the state in bringing digital financial inclusivity across the country.

To accelerate this digitisation some of the measures announced for the telecom sector include:

  • Spectrum auction in 2022 for the rollout of 5G: scheme for design led manufacturing to be launched for 5G ecosystem as part of PLI scheme to enable affordable broadband and mobile communication in rural and remote areas;
  • Funding for R&D and technology upgradation;
  • Further investment for laying optical fibre in villages and rural areas for increased connectivity.

The FM also announced that the Northern Border regions will be receiving greater infrastructural developments under the ‘Vibrant Villages’ programme increasing their connectivity and access to digital resources.

In line with the National Digital Health Mission, the FM announced setting up an open platform for the national health ecosystem, which will contain digital registries of health providers and facilities, unique health identities, consent framework and unique access to health facilities. Further she also announced setting up 23 tele-mental health centres of excellence, with NIMHANS being the nodal centre and the International Institute of Information Technology-Bangalore (IIITB) providing technology support with the aim to provide better quality mental health counselling and care services to its citizens.

To support the digitisation drive several announcements were made towards digital upskilling of individuals to increase employability including commencement of digital courses in select Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) and Industrial Training Centres (ITC).

It is obvious that the Government realises and acknowledges that the use of technology is the only way forward but to make this happen and use technology to its full potential all eyes are now on the upcoming Data Protection Bill and supporting regulation. The other factor to bear in mind in order to fulfil this objective is the need for robust digital infrastructure. Although the Government seems to be committed to supporting the telecom sector much needs to be done to help to get it out of the red zone.

The UK Government, on the other hand, has also given equal importance to digitisation under its national data strategy response. The NDS, launched by the UK Government in 2020, focuses on stimulating wider adoption of data-based services and highlights the importance of digital transformation across the UK in general.

Given the emphasis on digitisation from both Governments, we at the UKIBC see this as a substantial opportunity for UK-India collaboration and will continue to work with both Governments to facilitate further engagement.

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