Budget 2019: IT industry welcomes govt’s push on digital technologies

(Express photo: Praveen Khanna)

The announcement of launching a National Programme for Artificial Intelligence has been welcomed by the industry. The government will also be building nine CoE in a bid to leverage the technology and take it to the masses. A national AI portal will also be opened for this.

Read expert reactions on this move:

Prakash Mallya, Vice President, Sales and Marketing Group, Intel

Today’s Budget clearly showcases the importance of a digital-first India and the government’s commitment to drive innovation and technology advancement in the country. With the government setting a target to become a $5 Trillion economy in the next 5 years, Intel believes that emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 5G will play a crucial part in this vision. Firstly, the government’s focus on the rapid adoption of AI in India by announcing initiatives like the National Center for AI and a National AI Portal, is a step in the right direction to drive technology adoption in the country. At Intel, we have been working on various AI-led initiatives with the government and will continue to collaborate with the country in its digital transformation mission. Secondly, the Budget also pointed out the growth in the telecom sector; this definitely provides impetus towards building a strong 5G ready ecosystem in the country. Additionally, the government has set a goal to create 1 lakh digital villages in the next 5 years taking technology penetration to a new level, that can help build a truly digital India.

Shrenik Bhayani, General Manager – South Asia, Kaspersky Lab

With the government’s aim to make 1 lakh villages into Digital Villages over the next five years and the huge jump in monthly consumption of mobile data over the last five years, it is important to ensure these people are aware of the potential cyber threats that tag along these developments. Just in the period of October – December 2018, more than 50% of users in India were attacked by local threats during this period, which puts India in the 66th place worldwide. Of course, the responsibility of cybersecurity should not fall solely on the government. Our people should be aware about the importance of cybersecurity and adapt with the change of environment by gearing up towards practicing good cybersecurity hygiene.

Takayuki Inaba, Managing Director–NEC Technologies India

The Government’s effort towards using advanced technology like AI for masses is a welcome step. AI has been one of the biggest technological advancements in the recent past. The government’s vision of developing a national program on AI will set the implementation process in motion and help people and government immensely. Identifying priority areas for AI hubs will streamline the development work in the AI domain and give a certain direction to the start-ups working on this technology. All these efforts will promote the use of technology and digitisation and play an important role in the development of the economy.

Arun Balasubramian, Managing Director – Qlik India

The interim budget, the government has rightly comprehended the necessity and competence of digital technologies such as AI, machine learning, big data and more. We are glad to find out the government’s plans of developing a National Artificial Intelligence portal, which will significantly boost research and development measures and thus allow businesses of all sizes and sectors to gain better data-driven and decision-making insights and advance the nation in competitive global space.

Rahul Kumar, Country Manager India and SAARC at F-Secure

Leading the world in mobile data consumption is a big milestone for India and promises a great opportunity for development. The lower rates of 4G data are pushing the opportunities for digital growth, even in the hinterlands of India. We believe that the next crucial step will be addressing cybersecurity concerns, as a number for first-time users; and users with a lack of nuanced understanding of cybersecurity are expected to on-board the digital bandwagon. Hence, educating the new internet users about data privacy and online safety should be highly prioritized. As the world moves towards digitization and IoT connected devices, personal data is the most vulnerable commodity and must be carefully safeguarded.

Sanjeev Gulati, Country Director India and SAARC at VIVOTEK       

The inclination of IP surveillance industry towards the AI technology is expected to further boost with the establishment of National Artificial Intelligence Portal. Not only this, the ongoing smart surveillance projects in railways is another positive development as Indian railways have been allocated a lion’s share in this year’s budget. India, on the other hand, is also fast-developing its highways with a prime focus on rural roads. Smart surveillance can tangibly increase the efficiency of authorities on keeping a track of such projects which will later also ensure safe and secure traffic management.

Dr Subho Ray, President, IAMAI (The Internet & Mobile Association of India)

The announcement of National Artificial Intelligence portal is expected to propel India on the path of leveraging advanced and disruptive technologies for growth and economic prosperity and growth.The Government’s vision to make 1 lakh villages into Digital Villages over next five years with the help of Common Service Centres (CSCs) is ambitious and will usher in the much needed digital revolution under the Digital India initiative, and will help in the last mile connectivity. This will also bridge the Rural-Urban digital divide, and will open avenues to jobs and employment creation.

Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group.

The interim budget threw light on the government’s dedication to a healthy India with a distress-free healthcare system. The announcement of a National Centre on Artificial Intelligence is also a big positive. AI today has great potential in transforming and designing new tools which will equip doctors in the fight against non-communicable diseases. At Apollo, we have already taken the first step with an Intelligent Platform designed to predict cardiovascular disease risk score for Indians.

Tarun Bhalla, CEO & Founder, Avishkaar

Budget 2019 will prove to be a godsend for the Artificial Intelligence (AI) sector in India. With over 200 AI start-ups currently innovating AI-based solutions in the country, they’ll help serve the society and help make a marked difference in the education, healthcare, transportation, infra and agricultural sectors of India.  Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here to stay and will play a significant role in the future of the country.

Rajiv Bhalla, Managing Director, Barco India 

“We laud the budget presented by Mr. Piyush Goel today and believe it is a populist budget overall. Mr Piyush Goel announced 9 top dimensions to this budget and Make in India and Digital India were central to it. Expanding rural industrialisation using modern digital technologies to generate massive employment is the Fourth Dimension of the vision. This will be built upon the Make in India approach to developing grass-roots level clusters, structures and mechanisms encompassing the MSMEs, village industries and start-ups spread in every nook and corner of the country. India is now on the way to becoming a global manufacturing hub in various sectors including automobiles and electronics, defence and medical devices.

 Vartul Jain, VP – Finance, GreyOrange 

The announcements to set up a national centre for Artificial Intelligence and development of an AI portal through identification of nine priority areas in the segment will be critical to promote the adoption of these emerging technologies in the country and to position India as a front runner in this  space across the globe.

The extension of the GeM platform, with a focus on supporting domestic trade and services, retail trading and welfare of traders augur well for the development of these sectors. The continued impetus to boost MSMEs and empower traders will contribute towards the growth of small businesses, fostering innovation and employment.

On the whole, we believe the Government’s thrust on technology along with the emphasis on internal trade in this year’s budget are defining steps, the results of which will be crucial in realising the vision of the $10-trillion economy in the long run.

Anil Valluri, President, India & SAARC Operations, NetApp
The Government, in its Budget 2019 today has articulated a compelling vision for India, both for the medium and long term. It has provided direction, and a finite and ambitious goal for India, of becoming a USD 10 trillion economy by 2030. I look forward to the details and to the Government marking progress against it. For the short term, this is a budget that has something for everyone, but more particularly the middle class, the agricultural community and marginalized sections of society. The sense of inclusion, financial as well as welfare is welcome and much needed to build the force for a stronger nation that can march towards what I call Vision 2030.

Deepak Maheshwari, Director – Government Affairs, India, Symantec
The Budget acknowledges the pivotal role of digital technology in India’s evolution to a five-trillion dollar economy over the next five years. Budget proposals such as those on artificial intelligence, one lakh digital villages and the thrust on RFID usage will not only fuel entrepreneurship, but also unleash enormous job opportunities.

In addition, with the continued momentum on digitizing transactions using Aadhaar and the need for real-time monitoring and evaluation of effectiveness and efficiency of various government schemes, the critical role of cyber security resilience and data protection towards fostering and inculcating trust cannot be over-emphasized.

It would be desirable that the forthcoming full budget later this year mandates setting aside 10 percent of the technology layout of every government project exclusively towards cyber security, as per the recommendations of the NASSCOM Task Force. The ensuing consultations on data protection legislation should result in a comprehensive, forward-looking, world-class enactment that enables and empowers people and businesses to use technology with confidence.

Udaya Bhaskar Rao Abburu, CEO & Managing Director, iRam Technologies
iRAM would be standing with the govt’s initiative to build next-gen infrastructure physical as well as social for a $10 trillion economy and to provide Ease of Living. This will also mean opportunities for the smart city venture and companies like iRAM. We will be working closely with the government to make basic facility available like smart parking solutions, smart lighting solutions, infrastructure etc.

Also, the announcement to build a Digital India that reaches every citizen by creating innumerable start-ups and jobs, will give a major impetus to the smart city initiative. National centre for artificial intelligence is under consideration. Along with that a national AI portal will be developed soon, and this is a very welcome step for IoT enabled companies like iRAM.

Rajnish Kumar, CTO & co-founder,  ixigo
The new national scheme announced by the government on Artificial intelligence is a futuristic scheme which will promote the use of technology and digitisation. The government’s efforts in providing the necessary AI support required by startups, further emphasises the role that new technologies will play in the development of the economy. Efforts to establish 1 lakh digital villages is also a positive step towards strengthening digital penetration in rural India and will  significantly increase the adoption of digital platforms across the masses.

Sabarinathan Sampath, Senior Vice President, RackNap
Very excited to hear that Government will invest more in creating awareness about Artificial Intelligence. This could help businesses and IT companies to take these technologies to the common man who could benefit from it. The Vision 2030: Digital India reaching every citizen is a very bold one. This requires considerable work at the grass roots and IT companies will play a big role in this. Gone will be the days when IT companies find work abroad. Instead with government attention on “Digital India” campaign, they can start focusing more on India now and serve the Indian market! Full tax rebate for up to Rs. 5 Lakhs annual income is a huge positive step and in the right direction.”

Ashish Nayyar, India MD, OakNorth
National Artificial Intelligence Portal will be a good step towards making Indian economy more FinTech inclusive. Hopeful that SME Finance would be one of the focus areas for leveraging ML and AI. I think this portal’s framework would be based off a robust data infrastructure. A crucial sub-step would be ensuring financial data (both electronic and non-electronic), as applicable to SMEs, is housed in a robust data lake with adequate protection mechanisms. Once we create a viable data economy for SME’s, the ML and AI frameworks can be applied to meta data of such SMEs. The AI frameworks would then be able to generate insights on SME sectors which haven’t access to finance purely due to lack of bandwidth and ability to harness such data. This in turn would ensure SME access to finance in our country is at par with other nations (if not better). With the portal coming up and streamlined data access (with protection), FinTech ecosystem would receive exponential growth.

Atul Rai, CEO and Co-Founder of Staqu
The government has been banking on digital technologies such as AI, machine learning, big data and more. Thus, in the interim budget we had expected a significant boost by the government. We are glad to find out the government’s plans of developing a National Artificial Intelligence portal, which will significantly boost research and development measures in the field of Artificial Intelligence.


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