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Startups and industry leaders excited about government’s focus on AI in Budget 2019

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The Government’s announcement in Budget 2019 to setup a national centre for Artificial Intelligence and development of an AI portal through identification, has received a thumbs up from industry leaders. We present below some perspectives from startups and industry leaders:

V Ramakrishnan, CFO, TCS

The interim budget is focused on providing relief to large sections of the rural economy and on jobs creation. Additionally, the tweaking of the direct tax code will lessen the tax burden on the middle classes and spur consumption that should benefit multiple sectors, and drive growth. The target of extending connectivity to create 1 lakh digital villages over the next five years will further reduce the digital divide, and spur digital entrepreneurship in rural areas. The announcement of a national programme on ‘Artificial Intelligence’ with a Center as a hub along with Centers of Excellence, will provide a fillip to building national capabilities in this area. The budget strikes the right balance between progressive initiatives and fiscal prudence, and merits an 8 out of 10

Sanjay Jalona, CEO & MD, LTI (L&T Infotech)

The continued support by the government on new age concepts such as AI that has the power to emerge as not only national assets but global disruptors is a huge trigger to further advancements in these fields. The role of such exponential technologies in driving the nation’s development is immense and provides a much-needed avenue to address and overcome pertinent age-old issues. Furthermore government’s vision for 2030 to place India as a modern, technology-driven, high growth and transparent society including leading the world in transport through electric vehicles and energy storage devices further emphasizes the role of digital technologies in transforming not only businesses but overall living standards

Rajiv Kapoor, Vice President, India & SAARC, Cambium Networks
The government’s plans to set-up 100,000 digital villages in the next five years is a huge step towards leapfrogging India’s march on critical initiatives such as Digital India. By placing wireless connectivity at the heart of India’s development particularly in rural areas, the country is poised to further consolidate its position as the global hub for disruptive innovations,” said Rajiv Kapoor, Vice President, India & SAARC, Cambium Networks

Dhirendra Mahyavanshi, Co-Founder, Turtlemint

We are glad to see one more forward-looking budget that has addressed quite a few concerns of the industry in general. The government’s sustained focus on healthcare initiatives, evidenced through more push to the Ayushman Bharat scheme, is going to create more awareness on the criticality of health insurance in the country and boost the industry. Together with the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendra which has facilitated essential medicines, cardiac stents and knee implants at affordable prices to the poor and middle income groups, the scheme is set to change the direction of healthcare in India. Increased tax benefits and loan incentives for individual tax-payers is a highly welcome move, and we are hopeful that with an increase in the disposable income and increased awareness about health insurance, the industry is going to get the much-needed push that it has been waiting for

Varun Rathi, COO and Co-Founder, Happay

This is certainly a budget with full of long term vision and the government is undoubtedly poised towards building India into a stronger economy which is modern and technology-driven. Digitization and automation has clearly become the new mantra of the government- the 10 dimensions for Vision 2030 reinforces the importance of technology in transforming India.

Additionally, the step to create a portal on artificial intelligence will help the common man to understand the importance of AI. Data is the backbone of AI. Currently, there is a lack of structured data availability in India. Having said that, this doesn’t look infeasible at all and timing couldn’t be better than this to launch a nationwide AI center. UIDAI, NPCI and GST council has laid the foundation of the most important piece of the puzzle – getting the identity, demographic, financial and skills data recorded in a structured manner. An AI council can now start laying some ground rules and create a regulated and open platform for anyone to innovate and create value for India

Vartul Jain, VP – Finance, GreyOrange

It is heartening to see the Government’s continued focus on its flagship programs, Digital India and Make in India, as key drivers to the nation’s economic growth, with a greater focus on digitisation in the rural economy. In line with this agenda, 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

Bala Parthasarathy, Co-Founder & CEO, MoneyTap

The Government’s decision to develop a National Artificial Intelligence Portal will definitely boost the R&D in new and emerging technologies. End-to-end digital processing of Income Tax Returns within 24 hours sounds very promising and is a noble incentive for paying taxes on time.

We are also very hopeful towards the creation of digital villages as it will encourage people from rural areas to adopt various new-age services such as Fintech lending on their mobile phones.

All-said-and-done, this Budget is a huge relief for salaried individuals. A full tax rebate for income up to Rs 5 Lakh is great news for salaried employees. Standard deduction has also been increased to Rs. 50,000. So even people earning up to Rs. 6.5 lakh may not have to pay any tax if they invest in provident funds and other specified savings. Gratuity limit has also been increased to Rs. 30 Lakh, which will enable employers to pay higher tax-free gratuity to employees who have worked for them for more five years

Ravi B Goyal, Chairman & MD, AGS Transact Technologies Limited

Digital India being mentioned as one of the 10 pillars of the Government’s Vision 2030 is a welcome step for our industry. With urban India already adopting the Digital Inclusion, now the Government is penetrating deeper into semi-urban and rural India. The Government’s target to reach 1 lakh digital villages in the next 5 years is indeed encouraging and this will help in increasing the penetration levels of channels such as PoS, QR code and UPI and augur well for acquirers like us.

The Government’s new initiatives for farmers namely PM Kisaan Samman Nidhi will result in more Direct Benefit Transfers for the banking system. The Government’s intent to deploy AI (Artificial Intelligence) in various priority areas will also help if leveraged in end-to-end cash and digital payment solutions and automation technology

Sunil Sharma, Managing Director Sales, India & SAARC, Sophos

With India poised to become a USD 5 trillion economy in the next five years, we welcome the Government’s proposal of ensuring the growth of SME’s & rural India through initiatives such as promotion of digital villages. Additionally, through steps such as the establishment of a national centre of artificial intelligence, the Government plans to skill India’s youth, through the adoption of new technologies such as AI, so that they can reach their full potential.

As the technology landscape evolves rapidly, along with the infinite opportunities that it provides us, there are also a myriad of new challenges especially in terms of IT security and data protection. Even though Indian businesses (67%) were the highest hit by ransomware with an average impact cost of approximately USD 1.17mn and 2018 being the year of serious data breaches, there was very limited focus on IT security in the budget. That said, while we welcome the Governments proposed steps in strengthening the MSME & SME sectors that provide employment to millions of people, there still remains a pressing need for further investment in technology for data protection and IT Security, both from the Government and organization’s standpoint.”

Rajesh Uttamchandani, Director, Syska Group

As India is poised to become a USD 5 trillion economy in next five years, there is an immense opportunity for Indian organizations to develop and flourish. With the rapid proliferation of new age technologies such as internet of things, artificial intelligence and others, we welcome the Government’s keen focus on building a digitally vibrant India in the next few years.

This will provide an opportunity for companies such as Syska to introduce IoT enabled products that are affordable in the Indian market and help in developing smart cities. Additionally, as energy efficient product & solutions are seeing increased adoption, we are pleased with the Government providing 143 crore LED bulbs to rural areas. This resonates with our mission of providing energy efficient LED lighting solutions that are ‘Made in India’ to every Indian household.

Vishal Gondal, CEO and founder GOQii 

The 2019 budget looks promising for the healthcare sector; we have seen some major initiatives and announcements that will potentially change the health Index of India. One of the key highlights is the establishment of a system that ensures a stress free environment and comprehensive wellness for all. Keeping in mind that 55 per cent of India’s workforce are millennials, this is definitely need of the hour. Therefore, paving way for a stress-free India is directly proportional to its growth. The healthcare announcements made in the budget are a welcome move and will help build a strong economy. This will provide opportunities for companies like GOQii to contribute to making a stress-free India and creating a space that encourages preventive healthcare over curative.

Further, Ayushmann Bharat’s vision of improving the lives of 50 crore Indians which will potentially result in cumulative savings of INR 3,000 crores by the poor, is a testimony that the Government of India is strengthening the nation’s health ground up. We support the same philosophy that is making healthcare easily accessible for all Indians and governments efforts are evident through increased focus on making medicines, healthcare services and other health related instruments more affordable

Aakrit Vaish, CEO and Co-Founder of Haptik

With the announcement of National Artificial Intelligence portal, we expect India to be propelled on the path of leveraging advanced and disruptive technologies for economic prosperity and growth. We congratulate the government for this forward-looking budget

Neel Juriasingani, Co-Founder & CEO, DataCultr

Startups and the industry can take clues out of the various topics touched upon in this budget, to understand the direction and focus. Startups will have an integral role to play towards Vision 2030, it’s a great opportunity.

The concept of Digital villages and rural industrialisation opens up great avenues for companies & start-ups like us in the IoT & AI space, as well as for those working on building digital infrastructure of a connected India

Priya Mahajan, Head of APAC Public Policy & Regulatory Counsel, Verizon Enterprise Solutions (VES)

We are glad to note that the Indian Government has made consistent efforts and undertaken initiatives to foster the growth and developments of disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) and Robotics. We welcome the Government’s plan to create a national program on Artificial Intelligence which would be catalysed by the national centre for artificial intelligence as a hub, along with other centres of excellence. We are glad that 9 priority areas have been identified and the Indian Government is working closely to empower the MSME sector.

Moving forward, we need a good regulation that enables innovation by building public trust, a flexible approach to ensure policy is technology neutral and future proof that also covers AI and other emerging technologies. Regulatory simplification can lead to many benefits including greater regulatory certainty and predictability, regulatory outcomes that minimize compliance costs and inefficiencies, a more prosperous environment in which innovation thrives, and a boost to economic competitiveness. India should take the lead by creating a strong and balanced regulatory framework to build on, which could set the global standard for a sustainable approach to AI technology. This will enable India to attract the attention of global brands, inspire innovation, and become a global technology leader.

Satyam Kumar, co-founder and CEO, LoanTap

Interest subsidy extended to GST Registered MSMEs will help smooth some of the pain faced by small promoters in the last 3 years. This will also reduce resistance towards formally adopting GST Practices, and expand formal credit market. LoanTap believes this will benefit a very important segment of economy, which has been ailing for quite sometime.

Deb Deep Sengupta, President & MD, SAP Indian Subcontinent

The inclusive nature of Budget 2019 – with its focus on small farmers and unorganized workers is a welcome move indeed. SAP has long pursued a dream of creating more inclusive growth in the Indian economy – Code Unnati has already empowered over 700,000 Indians through digital literacy. When digital literacy joins economic support – the ability of the marginalized to enter the mainstream increases manifold. We believe this budget will further our nation’s ability to foster inclusive growth

Anurag Avula, CEO & Co-Founder, Shopmatic

The 2019 budget announcements certainly reaffirm the government’s commitment towards building a Digital India and creating opportunities for small scale Indian businesses for running successful e-commerce businesses. Though the decision to bring changes in the FDI policy for e-commerce platforms was to level the playing field for small scale sellers, the interim budget announcement comes bearing more favorable news.

As announced in the interim budget, the government is aiming for one lakh digital villages in the next 5 years. This is going to prove as a strong economic driver by promoting digital payments and more importantly, exposing rural businesses to the prospects of selling online.


If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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