As the finance minister tabled the union government’s budget for the upcoming financial year, one theme running across this budget and connecting through the past budgets has been the strong push towards realizing a digital future for the country. Such a push being led by the government consistently is remarkable in many ways bearing testimony o the fact that the government not only realizes that a major chunk of our future is going to be driven by digital technologies but also understands the massive potential that lies untapped in the Indian market on this aspect.
The aggressive push which picked up pace largely after the launch of the Digital India initiative followed by the implementation of other online portals and programs such as GeM, e-NAM, BharatNet, Digital Health mission and online filing of tax returns among others, has witnessed a transformation in different areas of the Indian economy. In the context of an ongoing pandemic, the last few budgets focused on mainstreaming emerging technological opportunities in the health and wellness sector through telemedicine, e-health startups, smart villages, the mostly online coronavirus vaccination process and aiming to digitize medical records of citizens through the National Digital Health Mission. India’s journey to going digital has been catalysed by low broadband prices as well as a large (and growing) tech savvy youth population. So far, the journey has been tremendously successful across domains, be it digital payments through UPI, BHIM and Rupay or Direct Benefit Transfer of subsidies or smartphone manufacturing.
The announcements pertaining to digitizing the economy made in the union budget reflects both continuity and change in this trajectory of India’s digital future. By announcing forward looking policies like the Battery Swapping Policy, the formation of a taskforce to expand the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comics (AVGC) sector, the Drone policy, the expansion of optical fibre network connectivity to all villages and setting up of a digital university, the government has clearly demonstrated its resolve to further embed digital and new age technologies in various spheres of everyday life.
Besides these, the announcements about simplifying income tax filing procedures, expanding the role of agri-tech in agricultural sector and launching a national digital currency, point to somewhat of a positive change in governmental outlook towards technology and is now focused on trusting the citizens to do the right thing without needless government pressure or presence. This is a welcome change for a country touted to be among the fastest growing major economy in the world in 2022-2023.