Tech leaders reaction to Budget 2023-24

(Illustration by C R Sasikumar)

How tech industry experts and startups responded to the FM’s speech today

Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson & CEO Salesforce India

The 2023 budget is a growth-oriented and inclusive one that lays a solid foundation and strengthens the economic outlook for India. We have a unique opportunity of being a demand-driven economy with a rapidly digitising population. The increased capital investment outlay has a multiplier effect on generation of employment opportunities and thereby better standard of living for citizens. India is the talent basket of the world and has one of the youngest populations globally; we have a tremendous opportunity to unlock the potential of the country’s young workforce. The unified Skill India Digital Platform, addresses the imperative of businesses and Government to do more to address the skills gap enabling inclusive development of talent. Promoting sustainable growth is an opportunity for India to lead and has been essential and top of mind for all leaders; the focus on ‘green growth’ across sectors can unlock new economic opportunities for India. We are proud of the progress we have made over the last few years on Digital Public Infrastructure and a significant driver to this has been the innovation in Fintech, this budget is an impetus to further accelerate this growth with investments in AI, 5G, startups and more, accelerating demand and innovation at scale. Continued emphasis on Trust-based Governance and Ease of Doing Business, especially in a growth economy, has the potential to attract investments. The budget gives businesses India an opportunity to shine bright – domestically and internationally – ensuring they act, and fast.

Anil Valluri, MD & Regional VP – India & SAARC, Palo Alto Networks

It is heartening to see the continued focus of the government on technology and its efforts toward realizing its vision for a truly digital India.

Digital Public Infrastructure for the country’s agricultural, fintech, manufacturing, and healthcare industries, including their Information Technology (IT) & Operational Technology (OT) capabilities, will help usher in a new age for the sectors. This will be characterized by cutting-edge solutions that will deliver advanced farmer-centric solutions, exhaustive market intelligence, evolved Agri-firms & start-ups, and more. The provision of 5G labs across India’s top engineering institutions will help power new applications, innovations, and opportunities that will further boost the development of the high-speed network service in India. Enterprise and academia collaboration to “Make AI in India and Make AI work for India” will be instrumental in bringing the technology and its innumerable applications into the mainstream and fostering an unprecedented AI ecosystem that will benefit both organizations and individuals. This ecosystem will flourish thanks to the newly announced youth-focused skilling initiatives for AI, Industry 4.0., coding, robotics, and more.

Competent cybersecurity will be crucial to the success of these initiatives, considering our digitally transformed populace. With ransomware attacks seeing alarming highs and national critical infrastructures becoming regular targets, any further transformations may render us more vulnerable to attack. A strong focus on data governance – reflected in the Union budget’s plans to set up a National Data Governance Policy – and cybersecurity skilling, combined with a cybersecurity-first approach powered by AI & ML for devices, networks, and applications will be essential for digital India to become a reality.

Hemant Tiwari, Managing Director, India, Hitachi Vantara

This year’s budget spells growth and inclusion overall. The government’s initiative around Fintech services, enhancing the usage of the national level cloud platform DigiLocker, will further boost technology adoption among individuals and MSMEs. The introduction of National Data Governance Policy will enable safe access to anonymized data and increase transparency. Moreover, with the AI revolution happening globally, the AI centres of excellence will provide exciting opportunities for cutting-edge innovations to be deployed across important sectors such as healthcare and sustainable cities, while providing new employment opportunities. Additionally, ‘The Green Credit programme’ as well as the initiatives towards building ‘Sustainable cities of tomorrow’ are strong leaps forward in building India’s green future. These are indicators of our nation’s commitment to climate action and efficient use of resources.

​Prativa Mohapatra, Vice President and Managing Director, Adobe India

The Union Budget 2023’s emphasis on digitization further solidifies India’s position as a global technology hub. According to the government of India’s goal of ‘AatmNirbhar Bharat’ in the ‘Amrit Kaal’, the Indian technology sector continues to be extremely crucial, and is prepared to reach new heights and add $1 trillion to the national economy. The establishment of AI excellence centers will lead to increasing adoption of cutting-edge technologies like Web 3.0, generative AI, and the metaverse, and will lead to driving the next phase of digital transformation. By making AI work for India and prioritizing digital and creative skills across all sectors, we can unlock even greater potential for growth.

To fully realize the benefits of this technological revolution, it is important to continue to advance the story of Digital India with a focus on accessibility.  To that end, we are committed to support the government’s agenda in transitioning from physical content to digital libraries pan-India to build a robust digital education ecosystem and encourage creation of digital content. As a leader in digital innovation, we at Adobe recognize the critical role that technology has played in propelling India’s growth and economic development and the plans announced today will further help establish India as a global technological hub. We are excited to put our best foot forward to contribute with our bit to the overall development on the nation.

Dr. Rishi Bhatnagar, President at Aeris Communications

 The forward looking of budget 2023-2024 and its seven priorities or the “Saptarishi” will complement each other in India’s growth during Amrit Kaal. The budget ticks all the boxes in terms of use of AI, emerging technology, social entrepreneurship, employment generation, push for manufacturing, infrastructure development, skilling and R&D to help India march towards inclusive and sustainable development. I personally admire the attention given to future technology with the proposal of setting up centres of excellence for Artificial Intelligence in top educational institutions of the country and prompting 5G labs. Budget 2023 is futuristic and encourages avenues of growth in future tech, healthcare, smart cities, digital communications, agriculture and multiple other sectors. I believe that new technologies drive innovation across business models and demands supportive policies and skills which have been managed well in this budget.”

Vishak Raman, Vice President of Sales, India, SAARC and Southeast Asia, Fortinet

A steep increase of 33% in capital investments to 10 Lakh Crore almost three times the outlay made in 2019 shows why India is one of the most buoyant economies in the world. While Investments and development programs are all tech-driven the budget realises the potential of 5G by setting up 100 labs in engineering institution to develop Apps to assists in all verticals including smart classroom, precision farming, smart transport systems and healthcare.

The capital flowing into AI-Startups last year was $2.7 billion globally. The race in AI is heating up after the success of ChatGPT and the budget has realised this potential with the vision of Make AI in India and Make AI Work for India. The setting up of 3 centers of excellence for artificial intelligence in top educational institutions will combine tech and computing power with some of the best engineering brain power in our country.

A robust financial sector, expanding the scope of Digilocker to allow more documents to be made available and setting up of e-courts will all go hand in hand with maintaining data privacy. There simply cannot be any data privacy without data protection and cybersecurity will require an entire system of people and technology working together to protect data and networks.

​Pradeep Bakshi, MD & CEO, Voltas Limited

Budget 2022-23 will provide an impetus for growth across sectors, that will help the economy revive at an accelerated rate. The measures introduced by the Finance Minister in Budget 2023 will not only support domestic capacity creation but also boost infrastructure, generating both growth and employment across industries. The overall increase in capital expenditure in line with our dream of make in India and “Atmanirbhar Bharat” will also create long term benefits paving the way for recovery. The development of urban infrastructure in Tier 2 and 3 cities will increase the demand for infrastructure projects, consumer appliances and HVAC systems. The focus on agriculture and horticulture storage will help in expanding the market thereby increasing the demand for cold chain & commercial refrigeration.

We also foresee the budget spurring  demand for construction equipment, considering significant investment in infrastructure projects like railways, road, urban infrastructure and power. Additionally the green growth agenda will help our business and customers at large to achieve their vision of a greener tomorrow.

Further, the increase in the personal income tax rebate to Rs. 7 lakh will provide consumers with higher disposable income, helping them spend on improving their life style through purchase of their desired appliances and other equipment for their households. We also believe that attention on customs duty for AC components and other high demand consumer durables would help manufacturers reduce cost of production and thereby increasing the consumer demand. At Voltas, we have been contributing towards nation building since our inception and we look forward to being a part of India’s growth story as it strives for higher trajectory.

Sunil Nayyar, Managing Director, Sony India

This budget is quite progressive and growth-oriented which is in line with the government’s long-term vision for India’s path to becoming a major global economy. Measures taken for significant job growth opportunities, especially in infrastructure, agriculture and rural sector is very encouraging. This will in turn give a major boost to rural economy, thereby increasing business potential in tier II and tier III towns in India which is a positive step in the right direction. This budget should propel more demand and consumer spending across various sectors, especially with more disposable income in hand of consumers owing to significant tax benefits. The newl​​y announced reduction in Basic Customs Duty for several television component imports is a big boost for the television industry. We welcome this budget in its entirety and we are optimistic of our future business plans in India.

Dewang Neralla, CEO, NTT DATA Payment Services India

The ‘Saptarshi’ Budget has laid stronger fiscal support for building digital public infrastructure in 2023-24, which will give further impetus to India’s financial technology stack, including UPI and other digital payment solutions. UPI has witnessed a great boost in recent years by registering a growth of 76 per cent in transactions and 91 per cent in value terms which shows, India is outpacing digital payments in the world and the industry is enhancing its contribution towards nation-building. The inclusion of digital payment systems in Prime Minister Vishwakarma Kaushal Samman is a major step towards strengthening the ‘Digital India’ initiative. The first budget in ‘Amrit Kaal’ combines both growth and consumption. Simplification of KYC methods for digital payments and increased options to keep personal and financial documents in digi-lockers will strengthen the entire digital payments ecosystem. Focus on benefits for individual taxpayers will help in creating increased disposable income, consumptions, savings, etc. all adding to the growth of digital transactions.

Arun Balasubramanian, Vice President & Managing Director, India & South Asia, UiPath

We are glad that in this year’s budget, a greater focus has been given to Digital India where technology is an enabler for the economic and overall development of the nation. For India to adopt and implement emerging technologies, a robust skilled workforce is needed. And the provision of the Skill India Digital Platform is the right step in making a highly skilled workforce. It will unify and enable demand-based formal skilling, which has been much needed to bridge the gap between academia and industry. With the Skill India Digital Platform and the proposed National Digital Library, we are confident that young Indians will have the resources to upskill in areas like AI, automation, and robotics, which will in turn make Digital India a reality. With the launch of The National Data Governance Policy, Indian users and companies can now access anonymized data, which will provide greater opportunities for innovation. These are exciting times for a tech-enabled India, and soon the country will become a talent powerhouse for the world.

Triveni Rabindraraj, Head of Sales at GoTo, India

Union Budget 2023 is a great development and comes with many positives keeping people at the heart of Amrit Kaal vision. With the level of technology disruption and digital adoption witnessed in the last year, it is exciting to see the government’s inclined interest towards a technology-driven and knowledge-based economy. Start-ups and SMEs have the potential to be the key employment generator in the country. The renewed emphasis on growth in the MSME sector, women empowerment, and skilling is a welcome move as it strengthens inclusive and sustainable progress across all industries. The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0, Make AI in India, and increased focus on 5G continuum will prove to be a big push to bridge the talent gap and prepare country’s youth for Industry 4.0 by empowering them with new-age technology skills needed to make India one of the world’s preferred innovation hubs. These initiatives will level the playing field to enable MSMEs to invest in and improve their digital talent, enhance employee value proposition, and drive better business outcomes.

Sudhindra Holla, Director, India & SAARC, Axis Communications

 The Union Budget for this year focuses on inclusive economic growth in order to strengthen India’s status as a global digital powerhouse. We are optimistic about the government’s saptarishi, or seven pillars, with a renewed emphasis on green growth. We are delighted with the Centre’s focus on tourism and investment in transportation infrastructure projects as this indicates an increase in demand for safety and surveillance solutions. We are aligned to further action India’s vision to transform our cities into ‘sustainable cities of tomorrow’. This will serve as a stepping stone in revitalising Smart Cities planning and urban development. The budget 2023 has a future-ready outlook and compliments the nation’s unmatched growth for digital economy, innovation, and inclusive development.

 Alok Dubey, Chief Financial Officer, Acer India

The Union Budget unveiled today echoes the government’s objective of “Digital Development” for the country. It places a high value on technology and innovation as a whole. Realizing the vision of “Make AI in India and Make AI Work for India” is projected to strengthen the country’s standing in the technology industry globally and generate numerous possibilities for the youth. The mention of lowering the minimum TDS threshold and clarifying taxability linked to online gaming is an encouraging step towards gaming industry in India, and it is expected to open up more prospects in the following year. This year’s budget also has prioritised sustainability; this is a step toward a green future that allows businesses and SMEs to enter the market with green products and services; this is a commendable and promising move. Overall, the Union Budget 2023 is promising and represents a significant step toward digital transformation and a holistic sustainable growth.

Sunil Mathur, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Siemens Limited

The inclusive, growth-oriented Budget builds on the foundation of previous years and is consistent with the Government’s efforts to maintain macro-economic stability while focusing on growth. The increase in investments in capital infrastructure, including ‘Green Growth’, sustainable cities and railways & transport infrastructure will give the necessary boost to the domestic economy. I also welcome the enhanced support for MSMEs, exports, domestic manufacturing and value-add, technology and youth, which are all imperative to maintain India’s economic growth.

Bimal Khandelwal, CFO, STT GDC India

The recently announced budget by our Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is a significant step towards a more sustainable future with a focus on green growth and a goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2070. The government’s dedication to lowering carbon intensity and fostering prospects for green employment is demonstrated by the allocation of Rs 35,000 crore toward attaining this objective and the energy transition. The emphasis on infrastructure incentives for green energy and the allocation of funds towards the National Green Hydrogen Mission, with an outlay of 19,700 crores, will facilitate the transition to low carbon intensity and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. A priority investment fund for the energy transition is also provided in the budget, with an emphasis on green hydrogen production to reach 5 MMT by 2030 which is an important step in encouraging the use of clean energy and lowering the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels. Additionally, the viability gap funding for battery storage is a good step because it will promote the creation of a strong and trustworthy energy storage infrastructure.”

Anirban Mukherjee, CEO – PayU India

Budget 2023 is a great step towards supporting the long-term growth potential of India’s fintech ecosystem amidst increasing global headwinds. The new National Financial Information Registry, simplified KYC processes and adoption of PAN as the common business identifier will help streamline business operations for fintechs across India. The government’s strong focus on cutting-edge tech like AI & 5G will offer a much-needed growth impetus to our country’s digital infra at a grassroots level. We at PayU India welcome the policies laid out in Budget 2023 and are excited to contribute driving financial inclusion through our digital payments & credit businesses.

Beerud Sheth, CEO and Co-founder, Gupshup

Make AI in India and Make AI work for India will be transformational in bringing AI applications across sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, public transportation and education. It’s a great bottom-up approach to bring institutions of high calibre and industry to work together on creating state-of-the-art AI products and services. These centres of excellence will bring much-needed innovation and solutions for process efficiency, better customer experience and a better citizen experience.”

Prashanth GJ, CEO, TechnoBind Solutions

Technology will be a driving force in achieving these goals. 5G has been the center of focus with enterprises diving to benefit the most by using it as an instrument for development. The government’s focus on setting up 100 5G labs in engineering colleges to develop 5G-based applications will further enhance the efforts being made by the private sector. The initiative of having an open-source standard for the agriculture sector will help technology firms and startups in helping the farmers, which is still one of the largest sectors in India. The focus given to youth through various announcements shows the government’s focus on the future of the country. Apart from the 5G labs set up in the colleges, the government’s recognition towards new-age skills will help SMEs with a competent workforce. The access to courses on coding, mechatronics, IoT, robotics, drones and 3D printing will help the youth enter the workforce. Make AI in India and Make AI Work for India – this slogan boosts the tech vertical’s efforts in including artificial intelligence in every aspect of our life as it betters the living and boosts development in every vertical. The government announcing the setting up of 3 Centres of Excellence for artificial intelligence has strengthened the efforts. Experts from the industry will be helping in the research and development of AI-based applications to help the agriculture, healthcare and sustainability sectors. These announcements in the budget will definitely have a positive outcome and help India’s tech vertical to achieve bigger milestones in the coming years.

Hitesh Garg, India Country Manager, NXP Semiconductors

The government has brought a progressive budget that will support green mobility and innovation in the automobile sector. Major steps like National Green Hydrogen Mission and extending the subsidy on EV batteries will help the country to have a seamless transition towards a low carbon intensive and fossil fuel dependent economy, empowering the country to achieve its net zero goals.​ The three centers of excellence for artificial intelligence to enable ‘Make AI for India’ and ‘Make AI work for India’ will stimulate an effective AI ecosystem and nurture quality human resources in the field of technology. It will also boost the Public-private partnership in conducting research and developing cutting-edge applications and scalable solutions across industries.

Rajesh Doshi Director and Co-founder at Zebronics

​​”The Union Budget 2023 was presented by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman today. The budget is being received positively as a progressive step towards improving the economy. One of the notable changes is the increase in the tax slab limit from 5L to 7L, providing more purchasing power to the general public. The new tax regime also offers relief to law-abiding taxpayers. These rebates on income tax will infuse a new life in the economy. The reforms in agriculture and health sectors are expected to have a positive impact on the economy. Additionally, the budget introduces new tax reforms and incentives for the “Make in India” program, as well as duty rebates for manufacturing, like TV Panel, li-ion batteries etc, which are expected to drive growth in the modern electronics and mobility sector. These rebates will help in setting up the local electronics manufacturing ecosystem in the country, which is the need of the hour. We can surely see India becoming one of the manufacturing hubs in the world.”



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