Taking a cue from his boss, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, decided to liberally give a facelift to his budget presentation for 2017-18 on 1st Feb 2017. The speech, laden with slogans and buzzwords, was organized around ten themes.
For example, the strategic objective was described under a new acronym - Transform, Energize and Clean India (TEC India). The three specific objectives spelt out by the FM under this are:
- Transform the quality of governance and quality of life of our people
- Energise various sections of society, especially the youth and the vulnerable, and enable them to unleash their true potential; and
- Clean the country from the evils of corruption, black money and non-transparent political funding
Digitalization is a top level agenda item of this government -- and is clear from the fact that Digital economy was one of these ten themes listed below.
While Jaitley presented quite a few measures specifically under the theme of digital economy in his budget speech, the government’s overall emphasis on digital was clearly evident from many of the other announcements as well. In fact, the word ‘digital’ occurred 27 times in his speech, just a little less than 31 times the word "allocate/allocation" occured.
Here are some of the announcements/provisions that we feel will help India accelerate towards a Digital India:
1. Geo-tagging all MGNREGA assets and using space technology to plan MGNREGA work
2. Announcement of a government initiated MOOC platform, SWAYAM with 350 online courses tp begin with that will enable students to virtually attend the courses taught by faculty in reputed institutes and access high quality reading resources
3. A DigiGaon initiative to provide tele-medicine, education and skills in villages through digital technology. By the end of 2017-18, high speed broadband connectivity on optical fibre to be available in more than 1,50,000 gram panchayats, with WiFi hot spots
4. Establishment of a dedicated Computer Emergency Response Team for the financial sector (CERT-Fin)
5. Launch of Aadhar Pay, a merchant version of Aadhar-enabled payment system
6. A mission to achieve a target of 2,500 crore digital transactions for 2017-18 through UPI, USSD, Aadhar Pay, IMPS and debit cards
7. Encouraging digital payment through a number of measures including strengthening the on-ground infrastructure
8. Establishment of a comprehensive web-based interactive pension disbursement system for defence pensioners
9. All payments over INR 300000 will mandatorily be through digital methods
10. Exemption of BCD, excise/CV duty and SAD on miniaturized POS card reader for m-POS, micro ATM standards version 1.5.1, finger print readers/scanners and Iris Scanners as well as for parts and components for manufacture of such devices