Who Say What on Union Budget 2021

Sonali Kulkarni, Lead – Financial Services, Accenture in India, said, “The investment outlay towards digital payments is a welcome inclusion in the Union Budget. As per a recent Accenture research report, in India, 66.6 billion transactions worth USD 270.7 billion are expected to shift from cash to cards and digital payments by 2023. This shift is expected to intensify the existing competition in the Indian payments space and ultimately, enhance consumer experience and convenience. However, the exact nature of the scheme of the outlay and its implementation will be instrumental in its success. We are seeing some notable innovation coming out of India’s fintech ecosystem – be it for digital payments, credit and risk management, underwriting or security. The initiative to set up a fintech hub in Gujarat International Finance Tech-City (GIFT) will spur investment and innovation designed to help financial institutions not just meet compliance requirements but also build more-personalized customer products and services. The move to set up a new asset reconstruction company and an asset management company to take care of stressed assets of banks will facilitate more options for banks to manage their NPAs as the true impact of the pandemic on NPAs is still unclear, and is expected to be fully known only by Q1 FY2022. The disinvestment and privatization related announcements related to the banking and insurance sectors will enable much needed capital infusion, and thereby, unlock new growth opportunities in FY 22.”

Lt. Gen Dr. SP Kochhar, DG, COAI, said, “We welcome the budget as it is pro-investment and pro-growth. It will provide the much-needed impetus to economic growth post the pandemic and will set us on the path to becoming Atmanirbhar Bharat. However, we are a bit disappointed that concerns of the telecom sector, which is the backbone of digital India, remained unaddressed. We were expecting a reduction in the burden of levies, such as LF and SUC on the telecom sector. The Government has also not considered the request of the Industry to exempt the GST from the payment of Govt Levies such as LF, SUC and spectrum installments etc. As the telecom operators are going to launch 5G services in the country, it is imperative that 5G enabled telecom equipment are available to them at a reasonable price. Thus, there was the need for a reduction in customs duties on telecom equipment. It would have been a much awaited relief if the government provided the right incentives to the sector. We will continue to engage with the Government in these areas in the times to come.”

Vinu Cheriyan, CFO & Director Operation at Sennheiser India, said, “For 2021-2022 Union Budget, the government has made some notable announcements that are aimed towards the overall development on the ease of doing business. The central government plans to create manufacturing global champions via PLI scheme in 13 sectors will help the manufacturing sector to double its growth rate, which will end up creating huge job opportunities across. Additionally, the Government of India has chosen a big infrastructure push by allocating budgets to construct national highways which will improve the connectivity in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. This will further help in ensuring seamless movements and deliveries across India, thus strengthening the overall development of industry and commerce, further giving a push to the audio accessories industry in India . We appreciate the government’s initiatives and look forward to a fruitful year ahead.”

Mr. Rajeev Singh, Managing Director – BenQ India, said, “A very significant budget as India is coming out fast from effects of COVID 19, Government has given strong emphasis on spending on Infrastructure along with big push for Atmanirbhar Bharat. Alongside, there is no change in direct taxes largely which were moderated for companies last time. This will mean more money in the system and will act positively towards faster growth of economy. Government has also given additional push to education and skill development segment in the budget which will result in extensive use of technology which in turn will give a boost to virtual classroom and Blended and Hybrid Learning.”

Mr. Ranga Reddy, CEO, Maveric Systems, said, “The finance minister has given a boost to the economy through higher allocation to Infrastructure and health; thrust to the manufacturing sector and higher quantum to social welfare schemes. The government’s move to earmark INR1,500 crore to provide financial incentives to boost digital payments is a positive step. This will massively help in giving a fillip to the digital payments ecosystem in the country. Financial technology will continue to serve as the backbone to help make this possible. The plan to increasingly use AI, ML, and data analytics in the year 2021 is very encouraging. While some rationalization has been done on indirect taxes, direct taxes have been left untouched save the withdrawal of tax benefits on merger and acquisition. Overall, I believe a very positive and bold step towards developing a strong foundation for a fast-paced economy.”

Supria Dhanda, Vice President and Country Manager for India, Western Digital, said, “I would like to congratulate the Government on its first paperless budget to push India in its digital journey. The economic survey highlighted India’s aspiration to compete on Innovation with the top ten economies. Allocation of INR 50,000 crore for the National Research Fund for next five years is a definite step towards boosting the research ecosystem in a coordinated way. Focus on Innovation and R&D, coupled with the PLI for electronic manufacturing schemes lays down a very strong foundation in building a self-reliant digital India. We are confident that the technology industry will join hands with the Government in its plan to enhance manufacturing capabilities and expand R&D centres.”

Mr. Rahul Agarwal, CEO & Managing Director of Lenovo India, said, “The six pillars of the Union Budget 2021 add enormous value to the economic relief post the pandemic issues and paint a futuristic picture for the new year. It has managed to address some of the key issues around Atmanirbhar Bharat, education and Digital India that presents significant business opportunities for global corporates such as Lenovo. With the PLI scheme announced along with the increased focus on ‘Make in India’ in this budget, we are confident that it will encourage local manufacturing, and further bolster the local PC market. Lenovo will also support the government in enriching India’s economy, by boosting digital infrastructure in the field of education and additional focus on promoting inclusive development. The national education policy also creates an opportunity to build the Indian EdTech ecosystem to make it best across the globe for research & innovation, and empowers the citizens to scale up their skills.”

Mr. Dipesh Kaura, General Manager, Kaspersky (South Asia), said, “The budget for FY 2021- 22 was one with the aim to achieve and enhance our country’s top priorities, by investing in the healthcare sector and major infrastructures. Enhanced healthcare systems, extensive research and development, and major infrastructure developments are definitely the need of the hour and have been effectively taken care of by the budget allocation set by our FM. The goal to empower 15000 schools and adapt to a hybrid education model is also a very promising step taken towards the digital transformation of the country. However, to make this a success, securing the hybrid education system is equally important, especially in the near future. While pursuing a hybrid model of learning (in-person and remote), the educational sector continues to attract the attention of cybercriminals on the Internet. From July to December 2020, 270,171 users globally encountered various threats disguised as popular learning platforms—an increase of 60% when compared to the first half of 2020. These numbers state the growing need for cybersecurity and why it is important to build a robust and secure digital infrastructure for the education sector. Similarly, cybersecurity tools will also be needed for the seamless functioning of advanced technologies like deep analytics and artificial intelligence that the government plans to use to identify tax evaders, fake billers and for the digital census. The newer technologies can be used considerably for sectors like BFSI, healthcare, education, and can help in extensive R&D, provided that they are used with utmost security so as to avoid their misuse by cybercriminals who are capable of creating more chaos than one can expect. It will be interesting to see India’s education and other sectors further progressing towards digitalisation in the next 1-2 years, and cybersecurity experts and companies like us will be glad to help the country secure this digital future at every step taken forward.”

Mr. Vikas Garg, Chief Financial Officer at Paytm, said, “The Finance Minister has presented a balanced budget that is aimed at maximum growth of all sectors in the coming year. The Rs.1500 crore proposed scheme to incentivize digital payments is a welcome move that will accelerate the growth of cashless transactions in our country. During the pandemic, digital payments emerged as one of the key enablers of empowerment at the grassroots and brought millions of people under the fold of the formal economy. Government’s continued emphasis on increasing investment in Infrastructure, Insurance and digital payments will ensure financial inclusion of the masses.”

Mr. Sanjay Gupta, Vice President and India Country Manager, NXP Semiconductors, said, “The Union Budget 2021 has been the first-ever digital budget marking a major milestone in the digital journey of India. The budget has put the much-needed focus on Atmanirbhar Bharat and the need to grow the innovation and R&D sector in the country on a sustained basis. We are excited about the announcement of INR 50,000 crores for the National Research Foundation over the period of five years. This will surely boost the overall research and innovation ecosystem of the country. R&D is the lifeline for any organization and any country to continue to prosper in changing dynamic times. In India, we have to focus parallelly on ‘design-in-India’ in addition to ‘Make-in-India’ to continue to be ahead of the curve. Looking forward to having more and more companies leverage this increased R&D budget from govt and develop future researchers and Innovators. The voluntary vehicle scrapping policy would play a major part in phasing out the old and unfit vehicles thereby encouraging uptake in environment-friendly means of transport like electric vehicles. Overall, we are hopeful that Budget 2021 will propel India in the direction of becoming a global economic superpower.”

Mr. S Sriram, Chief Strategy Officer at iValue InfoSolutions, said, “Budget 2021 was positive given the challenge around higher fiscal deficit due to lower income. It is great to see emphasis on growth front keeping fiscal deficit priority low for the next 2-3 years. The key highlights of the budget include additional allocation to health and wellbeing in a Covid ravaged year with Rs 35,000Cr allocation to Covid vaccination with 4 Indian vaccines shortly. It is also great to see 35% enhancement of Government capital expenditure at Rs 5.54 lac Cr to revive economy around Road, Rail and Metro infrastructure. It is encouraging to see focus around disinvestment with 2 PSU banks and 1 Insurance company being planned for the year with Rs 1.75 lac Cr target. FDI in insurance enhancement from 49% to 74% augers well for a country with very low penetration. The voluntary vehicle scrapping policy is set to help auto sector and address the pollution challenges. While Rs 20,000Cr PSU bank recapitalisation looks on the lower side, reopening of IT assessment cases period reduction from 6 to 3 years should give comfort to tax payers on documentation. Planned LIC IPO should set the mood right on disinvestment. The government could have put more money in the hands of people to sustain the recovery along with sops to Business on CapEx investments.”

Mr. Prashanth GJ, CEO at TechnoBind, said, “Increased spend on Healthcare and Infra are welcome moves – as this will have a cascading effect on the economy in the medium term. Whether it is Highways or Railways the enhanced allocation is very encouraging. Also interesting is the ‘Bad Bank” which will help address the stressed assets through an ARC model. This will help keep the Banking system insulated from the spike of bad loans that are expected now – thereby allowing them to do business as usual by giving the much-needed support of credit in the system. The MSME allocation has been doubled – this too will help SME businesses in general which is a big market for us in the country. Support for furthering the idea of Digital India is also seen and it is very welcome – encouraging digital payments and the use of AI/ML in governance is exciting. Emphasis on Digital Payment is very good as this will go a long way in bringing in financial inclusion. Provisions in the GST and customs duty rationalization is something we look forward to.”

Mr. Shibu Paul, Vice President – International Sales at Array Networks, said, “The fiscal deficit for 2020-21 was estimated at 9.5% of GDP, the government’s aim is to bring it down by 5% of the GDP by 2025-26 which is ambitious and certainly a welcoming initiative. The highlight in this budget is the announcement of the Asset Reconstruction Company and Asset Management Company to help banks tackle bad loans which have been a call by economists for many years. The significance given to the investments and initiatives in the infrastructure development with a few coming under the PPP model will boost the overall development which includes increased investment opportunity from various sectors. The government’s proposal to use data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning-driven for the Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ database is a boost to the digitalization where the Version 3.0 of MCA-21 includes additional modules for e-scrutiny, e-adjudication, e-consultation and compliance management. Connecting more than 1,000 mandis into E-NAM is an excellent move. Setting up a separate administration structure for ease of doing business would help many organizations from various sectors. The faceless dispute resolution panel would help the citizens by keeping them safe from tax harassment. The importance given to healthcare sector to fight Covid and any future healthcare issues, the stress made in green energy projects like keeping aside Rs 1,000Cr for solar energy and Rs 1,500Cr for renewable energy along with voluntary scrapping policy and the weightage given to education has made this budget wholesome.”

Mr. Gurpreet Singh, Managing Director at Arrow PC Network (Titanium Partners – Dell Technologies), said, “Regressive rules had certainly affected the ease of doing business for many organizations and start-ups. However, the government’s announcement of establishing a separate administrative structure especially for ease of doing business will help many organizations benefit in the future. Revision of the definition of small companies by raising the capital base to Rs 2 Cr from the current limit of Rs 50 lakh will give a big boost to companies affecting their monetary status. Though not much of changes have been made in terms of income tax slabs, the move to make changes in tax evasion has instilled confidence in common man that they would not be facing tax harassment. Earmarking Rs 1,500Cr for promoting digital mode of payment and changing the tax audit limit from Rs 5Cr to Rs 10Cr will benefit many and will allow transparency. Hiking of FDI from 49% to 74% is a good move. The announcement that the forthcoming census would be digital shows the government’s initiative to practice what is being preached. On the other end, the emphasis on education, power and infrastructure sector will support the overall development of the nation.”

Mr. Rajendra Chitale, CFO at Crayon Software Experts India, said, “It is a welcoming move that the government is emphasizing on the implementation of data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning for the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA)’ database. We also welcome the digitization process and the introduction of e-scrutiny, e-adjudication, e-consultation and compliance management in MCA 3.0. After the adversities of 2020, tax holiday for another year to startups is a commendable move for the government. Again, the tax audit bar raised to Rs 10 cr for those transacting 95 per cent digitally shows the government’s commitment towards bringing in greater transparency. Apart from that the government’s promise on removing GST anomalies and the amount of Rs 1,500 crore earmarked for a scheme to boost digital payments are other welcoming moves for a stronger digitized India.”

Mr. V Satish Kumar, CEO at EverestIMS Technologies, said, “The Union Budget 2021 augurs well for the economy and markets overall. With the aggressive investment, monetization, and recapitalization initiatives, the Government is taking steps towards getting the economy back on the rails. The focus on infrastructure, public transport, and highways will see a jump-starting of multiple tracks of the economy. For the IT Sector, this will translate into an increase in projects, business, and interventions that will be needed to support all these economic programs. Another good move for the IT sector was that the Tax holiday for start-ups has been extended by one year and exemption on capital gains on investment in start-ups extended by one year. India has always been a resilient economy and these efforts will provide the elevation we need to take off and lead in the coming years.”

Mr. Sonit Jain, CEO of GajShield Infotech, said, “Budget 2021 lays a strong foundation in Infrastructure, Health and Education. It provides a big boost in making India a leader in the World Economy and manufacturing hub of the world. Not only does it give an impetus to easing in doing business in India, it also gives a big push to rural development, which was impacted, the most, during the pandemic. The budget has a vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat and will motivate Indian entrepreneurs to make products in India for the World. Overall it is a pro-growth budget and will further fuel the growth of Indian IT companies with its strong focus on Digital India.”

Mr. Vivek Sharma, MD – India, Lenovo Data Center Group, said, “This is a pro-growth, pro-technology budget with a vision to disinvest where required and re-energize infrastructure, healthcare, banking, and agriculture sectors through numerous employment and capital generating reforms. There is a strong focus on Digital India be it through setting a fintech hub at GIFT city, enhancing digital payments and use of AI, ML etc in governance, or making tax appellates faceless and tech enabled – all provide a solid foundation for a forward looking data-economy.”

Mr. Ketan Patel, Managing Director – HP India Market, said, “Today’s budget announcement confirms government’s focus on developing infrastructure and skills which will have short and long term benefits to Indian economy & people. From a technology point of view, the incentives for creating digital infrastructure, education and skilling spells out the government’s intent on developing the country’s human capital. Steps like international collaboration to develop new skills will help Indian youth prepare for modern job requirements and make them global ready. The announcement of the National Digital Educational Architecture (NDEAR) is a welcome step, which will help build a Digital First mindset in the entire education system in India and help students and educators adopt new ways of learning and teaching. In addition, we welcome the doubled allocation for MSME sector which will incentivise digital transformation of our small businesses that are the backbone of our economy.”

Mr. Rajesh Nambiar, Chairman and Managing Director for India, Cognizant, said, “Coming as it does during an unprecedented global crisis, the Union Budget for 2021 is justifiably focused on resetting the Indian economy and enabling it to emerge from the shadows of a prolonged and unforeseen disruption. The accent on improving healthcare, manufacturing and infrastructure as part of India’s mission to drive greater self-reliance will not only create more employment opportunities, but also accelerate the country’s shift towards digital modernisation and transformation that have become a key competitive differentiator in the new normal for businesses and governments alike. Measures such as establishing a world-class fintech hub, and further incentivising start-ups will provide impetus to innovation, entrepreneurship and R&D in the country. Providing financial and tax audit incentives to promote digital transactions is a progressive step that will result in greater transparency and reduced compliance burden. Consistent with India’s towering role in today’s knowledge economy, initiatives such as broadening foreign academic collaborations, leveraging synergies between various research institutions, universities, and colleges across India, amending the Apprenticeship Act to provide enhanced post-education apprenticeship and training opportunities to graduates, and moving towards implementing a Higher Education Commission of India will help enhance the quality of education as well as the vocational and industry skills available in the country. The proposed National Digital Educational Architecture is a welcome move to encourage a digital-first mind-set across the country’s education ecosystem for it to reinvent itself and rise to the learning and employability needs of the digital era. Leaving the tax rates alone signals a stable tax environment. Reducing the time limit for re-opening of assessment to three years, setting up a faceless income tax appellate tribunal, and strengthening the NCLT with e-Courts and a conciliation mechanism for contractual disputes will increase corporate and investor confidence by paving the way to greater transparency and expeditious action. There isn’t much in the budget for the IT industry, a sector that has done outstanding work to keep essential services rolling in various parts of the world through immensely difficult circumstances. We were hoping for an announcement related to the easing of SEZ rules for the IT industry.”

Mr. Rajesh Goenka, Director, Sales & Marketing, RP tech India, said, “Overall it is a very pleasant budget without any surprises which is good because in the current scenario consistency and continuity is more important rather than having mere aspirations. This is overall a balanced budget and only enhances the momentum set by our prime minister and finance minister in the last two years. In terms of IT hardware industry, there is no major change, however, with the government investment, the overall market demand is likely to grow up. IMF has also forecasted the industry growth 11 to 11.5 per cent, which is good for the industry. So overall we are optimistic about the budget.”

Mr. Hari Om Rai, CMD, Lava International Limited, said, “It is a historic budget making a mark of the beginning of a new India. Government has given a clarion call to the industry with the announcement of creating global champions from India and backing this strategy with new, “development finance institution”. Now the responsibility shifts to the industry to not only dream but dream big and stand together with the government to make the country progress from poverty to wealth over the next three decades.”

Dr. Rishi Bhatnagar, President, Aeris Communications, said, “I believe that this budget has established the essentialism for the use of technology to make India ‘Atmanirbhar’ and future ready. As this budget was presented digitally, it has laid the foundation of adopting and using disruptive technologies by all sectors in the country. Today, Artificial Intelligence and IoT technologies are being used by Aeris Indian enterprise clients not only to optimise operations, but also to plug revenue leakages, reduce NPA’s and much more. This budget elaborated how the Government is using & promoting technology to achieve record GST collections this year, ensuring good governance and even enabling the very first digital census to be carried out this year, which is indeed a big revolution in India’s census exercise. This will make the process faster, eliminating human errors with the use of mobile application rather than pen and paper. Announcements were also made to enable a global competitive edge with natural growth, for instance, the policy on voluntary vehicle scrapping which will help control air pollution index across cities. This is in-line with our objective of promoting electric/battery-operated variants across the automotive and smart fleet sector.”

Mr. Warren Harris, CEO & MD Tata Technologies, said, “With a significant outlay on Infrastructure spend and the much-needed Vehicle Scrappage policy, the government of India has finally set the tone for recovery of Auto Sector which has been significantly impacted by the pandemic. This will not only help boost the demand for production of Commercial vehicles but also support the entire transportation ecosystem. Also, while it would have been good to see some more initiatives to promote Electric Vehicles in this budget, we are glad that the government has noted India’s critical role in the global automotive supply chain post COVID 19. Specific initiatives through Production linked schemes, creation of infrastructure for R&D and enabling skill development in new-gen technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will help drive investment in Engineering and Research .”

Mr. Vikas Khanvelkar , M.D, DesignTech Systems, said, “This year budget is presented during unprecedented time as mentioned by Hon. Finance Minister (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman. As expected it aims to give a boost to economy by increasing expenditure in many sectors. Hence Fiscal deficit of 6.8% looks difficult but it is achievable through ambitious divestment program announced in the budget. Focus on health by providing Rs.64000 Crores for “Swastha Bharat” is a good move. Provision of Rs.35000 Crores for vaccination is also a very good step. On Industrial front, extending the already announced Production Linked Incentive Scheme for electronics sector to 13 more additional sectors by providing Rs.1.97 lakh crores over 5 years is a really welcome and great move to support “Atma Nirbhar Bharat” initiative to increase domestic manufacturing. This will give a strong push to grow manufacturing sector and create job opportunities. Mitra scheme for creating world class companies in Textile field will help grow textile exports. Voluntary vehicles scrapping scheme is also very good for automotive sector which was long awaited. Overall I feel the budget is in the right direction to get our economy back on track to take India to 5 Trillion Economy.”

Mr. Leo Joseph, Managing Director, Xerox India, said, “As expected, the core needs of the economy, coming out of a pandemic-hit year, take prominence in the Union Budget 2021. However, long-term, the budget focuses on the D in India – standing for both development and digitization. The progressive budget lays the roadmap for greater digitization in governance. A budget presented and disseminated in a digital format for the first time to a digital census will pave the way for the government to serve citizens through technology and data more seamlessly. The promise of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ can only be realized through greater investments in technology and focus on greater R&D and innovation – which the budget does.”

Mr. Rakesh Deshmukh, Co Founder and CEO, Indus OS, said, “The announcement of the National Language Translation Mission is a much needed effort by the government to reach our citizens in the language they understand. At Indus App Bazaar, the usage of apps in Indian languages on our platform has increased 2.2 times last year. We believe that with an enhanced app store ecosystem we will be able to break linguistic barriers and adding more value to the next half a billion Indian customers. Moreover, for Atma Nirbhar Bharat to be successful, the focus should be on technology innovation as a whole. We appreciate the government’s focus on innovation and R&D in the budget 2021.”

Mr. Mike Chen, General Manager, TCL India, said, “We do welcome the recent PLI scheme of the government. However, we need to ease up the duty imposed on raw materials keeping in mind the make in India thought. We should also be getting added incentives so that transformative measures can be taken. The industry contributes 25% of the country’s GDP.”

Mr. Avneet Singh Marwah, Director and CEO of Super Plastronics Pvt. Ltd, a Kodak brand Licensee, said, “Government intends to boost local manufacturing through its announcements in various PLI scheme in next five years. As part of consumer electronics, televisions should be considered to be included into the scheme. Also a dedicated Freight Corridor will be a game changer for supply chain of manufacturing. By spending on infrastructure, India will be competitive at global stage. Like metals, Govt should consider taking back customs duty on panels as there is increase of prices by 300% on the raw materials.”

Mr. Rajiv Bhalla, MD, Barco India, said, “The budget is a major step in the right direction. It outlays a strong focus on infrastructure, healthcare, capital spending, disinvestment, monetization, job creation and digitization. These measures are not only progressive and recovery-led, if implemented correctly would ease the burden on the economy and lead India towards the projected v-shaped growth and development. The budget talks about structural reforms in banking, enhancing debt financing and credit limits for businesses and asset monetization. This will lead to an increase in government spending, which, in turn will spur demand, therefore net positive for the industry. The several initiatives around job-creation, startups, reskilling, rural development and better quality of services to people are positive as a Nation cannot progress without care for the environment and inclusive all-round transformation.”

Mr. Rishab Mehta, CEO & Founder, GrayQuest, said, “This year’s Union Budget was in the spirit of “do no harm” in terms of any adverse policies being implemented. Broadly, the various decisions laid out in this year’s budget are more “incremental” rather than “transformational” in nature. Accessibility and affordability of education across the weaker economic strata of society has been a perennial challenge in our country, especially this year with the disparity increasing manifold due to lack of online education infrastructure both at school and student level. This year’s budget has indicated a good intention of progress in addressing this gap. Government’s decision to strengthen over 15,000 schools under NEP, set up 100 new Sainik Schools, raise allocation for ‘Eklavya’ schools in hilly areas etc. will provide a fillip to quality education. This budget has also laid down several measures which are further boosting the cause of both startups and especially fintech startups. Once again, we believe the steps taken relating to startups, although incremental in nature, point towards a long term policy goal of the government to signficantly boost the sector via favourable policies, albeit with incremental steps taken every year instead of a big-bang transformational reform. The decision to extend capital gains tax exemption by another year is another step in that respect. Specific to fintech, the setting up a world-class Fintech hub at Gift city will add impetus and government recognition to the growing relevance of Fintech companies in India, which is essential considering that it is a regulated sector.”

Mr. Kartik Sharma, Co-Founder, DcodeAI, said, “The government’s continued efforts to boost the excellence of education in India is greatly appreciated. With an emphasis on strengthening the Nation First Policy in Union Budget 2021, the government will offer robust remedial solutions that are aligned with the vision of creating a thriving education ecosystem. With a focus on education for all, providing quality education through National Education Policy (NEP), collaboration with Japan for the sharing of technology and knowledge, skilling youth and launch of data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning driven MCA21 Version 3.0, the government have rolled out incentives to provide impetus to the activities and subsequently to the growth of EdTech as well as of skill-tech enterprises. Such incentives along with funding provisions will create space for collaboration amongst start-ups, especially in the education sector and open up new avenues of career growth for Indian professionals.”

Dr. Yogesh Bhatia, Founder, Detel, said, “We appreciate the Government’s vision of Atma Nirbhar Bharat post the most unprecedented year of 2020. Many domestic players were badly affected and expecting some strong moves by the government. The thrust on automobile sustainability by introducing voluntary scrappage policy will progress the auto sector significantly and curb pollution issues and soaring crude oil bills. This announcement will replace the 15-20 years old pollution causing vehicles and generate massive demand for e-vehicles in the market. We welcome the Indian government’s move on long awaited scrappage policy and focus on better road infrastructure. We eagerly await for more details by the government.”

Mr. Karthikeyan Natarajan, President and Chief Operating Officer, Cyient, said, “Coming out of the pandemic year, the Finance Minister has laid down a well-rounded Budget. Focus on setting up of Fintech Hub at Gift City, enhancing digital payments and use of AI in governance – all provide a strong platform for Digital India. Allocation of Rs 50,000 crore towards National Research Foundation will work towards boosting India’s Innovation Quotient on the global map and is a welcome move. Allocation of funds as incentives for promoting digital payments is also a step in the right direction and a significant step in ease of doing business. Lastly, increase in allocation for highways and railways will lead to employment generation and boost the economic growth of the nation.”

Mr. Ramanujam Komanduri, Country Manager, Pure Storage India, said, “Budget 2021 looks promising and rightly focuses on public healthcare, given the disruption caused due to the pandemic. We are particularly excited about the Finance Minister’s announcement of smooth delivery of digital services as part of the next wave of digital revolution. AI, ML, and Data Analytics are making greater inroads in India, as was observed in the budget. These are all essential elements of the modern data experience. We are looking forward to the next phase of Digital India which will be a big growth driver for businesses and individuals alike.”

Mr. Nikhil Rungta, Country Manager, India, Verizon Media, said, “This is a ‘get well’ budget with an expansionary outlook and focused on growth. Given the times it might not be a radical budget, but it is practical and thoughtful, which will propel consumption and growth of business. This budget has also rightly signalled the need for greater inclusion in India’s workforce. Women being allowed to work in all sectors and in night-shifts with adequate protection, and social security benefits extended to gig workers will provide an impetus for women to step up their contribution towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat.”

Mr. Suman Reddy, Managing Director, Pega India said, “As the first budget during recovery of the pandemic, we are optimistic that the slew of measures announced on healthcare and infrastructure will provide impetus to the economy. The agenda to focus on the six pillars including infrastructure, innovation and R&D clearly sets India on a path of recovery. In a significant break from tradition, Government’s Atmanirbhar package focuses on increasing spend towards the creation of jobs and rural development, generous allocations for development schemes, handing more monetary benefits to the common man, and easing rules to attract foreign investments. Enhancing the digital backbone of the country, the announcement on the fintech hub at the GIFT -IFSC and R&D investment of 50,000 crores over 5 years will ensure that the overall research ecosystem of the country is strengthened with a focus on identified national priority thrust areas. The move to establish a National Digital Educational Architecture (NDEAR) in the context of a Digital First Mindset to ensure digital learning, as well as planning infrastructure, will empower the youth of the nation.

Mr. Sudhindra Holla, Director, Axis Communications, India & SAARC said, “We are upbeat on the six pillars of the government agenda including focus on infrastructure, innovation and R&D that is all set to strengthen India’s power as a global digital hub. We are optimistic by the renewed focus on road safety with advanced traffic management system with speed radars, variable message signboards, GPS enabled recovery vans along with the outlay of ₹ 2.28 lakh crores for developing the highways, roads, and railways. Good to see pertinent steps taken to revitalize the economy with key focus on allocating budget for healthcare, metro railways, ports, airports, and logistics to boost urban infrastructure. These in turn will be stepping stones towards invigorating Smart Cities planning and urban development and help in generating more jobs.”

Mr. Nikhil Rungta, Country Manager, India, Verizon Media, said, “Taking insights from the learning curve of Covid-19, the government has done well to take appropriate measures to improve the lives of citizens and pave way for economic recovery. This is a ‘get well’ budget with an expansionary outlook and focused on growth. Given the times it might not be a radical budget, but it is practical and thoughtful, which will propel consumption and growth of business. This budget has also rightly signalled the need for greater inclusion in India’s workforce. Women being allowed to work in all sectors and in night-shifts with adequate protection, and social security benefits extended to gig workers will provide an impetus for women to step up their contribution towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat.”

Mr. Balajee Sowrirajan, Managing Director, Samsung Semiconductor R&D (SSIR), said, “We are very optimistic with the focus given on Innovation and R&D being identified as one of the key pillars, I believe ‘Design for India’ will gain momentum and localization of product designs will lead towards an aspirational and Innovative India. These will lead to the next phase of inclusive growth with increased emphasis on skilling and job creation. Furthermore, with a significant increase in Capex from 4.39 lakh crore to 5.54 lakh crore, the Atmanirbhar Bharat Initiative will be strengthened with more focus on domestic manufacturing and production, laying the foundation for the 5 Trillion Dollar Economy by 2030.”

Mr. Rajan Navani, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, JetSynthesys, said, “I’m happy to see the Union Budget 2021 is a forward-looking one, with massive spend commitment by the government across many sectors combined with large divestment and monetisation, along with the privatisation of two public banks and one insurance company. This is a great trajectory for banking in India. Also, the increase in FDI in insurance to 74% with management control will help in attracting FDI from the world, further boosting the economy. I’m particularly excited about the government’s commitment to set aside an outlay of INR 50000 Cr for the National Research Foundation, the setting up of a new Fintech hub, and an allocation to incentivise digital payments. Also, as we complete 75 years of independence, the move to exempt senior citizens over 75 years from filing tax returns if they are only on pension is a great tribute to their contribution to India. The budget also had a number of bold initiatives to simplify tax processes for businesses and honest tax-payers. The extension of the tax holiday and exemption of capital gains will also enable businesses and startups to focus on growing their business. Most importantly, the proposed use of data analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, optimising the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and tax portals, is indicative of the New India of 2022. I hope this forward-looking budget will help revive India’s economy, propelling it further towards a digitally empowered tomorrow.”

Mrs. Kanika Agarrwal, Chief Investment Officer, Upside AI, said, “The theme of the budget this time can be summarized in three words: infrastructure, disinvestment and capitalization. These are exactly the areas the government should be focused on so it will, as always, come down to execution. It is important to watch how the government executes its DFIs, PLI scheme expansion, asset reconstruction company, PSU recapitalization. Similarly, it is heartening to hear of the government’s intention to “minimum government, maximum governance”. The overhaul of redundant customs duty structure, GST simplification, higher FDI in insurance, stronger NCLT, single Securities Markets Code and making tax assessments easier are all encouraging signs. Further, it has committed a larger outlay (albeit still only 2.5% of GDP terms) on infrastructure spending across rail and rural. We hope this will get employment back up as the country looks to fill the hole in the economy left behind by COVID. Disinvesting/ privatizing PSUs and insurance companies is the correct move. While the intention to privatize and disinvest has been there nearly every budget, given the difficulty the government has had with this target in the past, we remain cautious on how the centre will balance its books and manage the committed deficit. One area we wish the speech had paid more attention to is the government’s AI/ ML strategy. Given the strategic significance of cutting-edge technology on our place in the world in the coming decade, it would have been good to encourage innovation via a scheme, sandboxes, etc in the budget speech. The devil remains in the details, but we are happy with the direction in which the government intends to move with this budget.”

Mr. Vaibhav Lall, Founder – Khojdeal, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked unprecedented havoc on the startup sector in the Indian ecosystem. There was a much needed support required by the cash-strapped industry from the Union Budget to take them out of the conundrum. We therefore welcome the FM’s decision to extend the tax holiday and capital gains exemption incentives by one more year. Also the initiative to include 1 lakh digital villagers in the next 5 years is great news for businesses with penetration in tier 3 and tier 4 regions. Icing on the cake are the GST provisions provided for SMEs earning less than 5 cr – to file GST only once in the quarter of a year. The budget will not also provide much needed time for start-ups to get back up on their feet but also boost the overall performance of the SME sector.”

Mr. Bhaskar Rao Abburu, CEO & Managing Director, iRam Technologies, said, “We expected more from the Union budget 21-22. While the focus has been on infrastructure, FM has allocated Rs. 93,400 Crores for roads only, no allocation has been made for development of Smart Cities. Though FM talked about double digit growth of the manufacturing sector for India to become $5 Trillion economy, no roadmap has been laid out for the same. We also need more clarity on how Rs. 2217 Crores allocated for setting up 42 Urban centres to tackle pollution problem will be used. Change in definition of Small companies may benefit some Small-scale companies, provided more support for Small scale companies are announced.”

Mr. Nitin Chavan, CEO, Aquapay Payment Technologies Pvt Ltd, said, “We welcome the budget presented by the Finance Minister as we believe it offers much for the FinTech space. The proposal to set up Global FinTech Hubs at GIFT and the allocation of Rs. 1,500 crore for promoting digital modes of payment are both measures that will give the sector a boost. Moreover, the incorporation of one-person companies to incentivise innovation in start-ups and the focus on R&D in AI and ML should make for an even more vibrant and thriving start-up environment than we already have today. Lastly, the setting up of a separate Asset Reconstruction syndicate for dealing with NPAs is a much-needed measure. Together with recapitalisation of PSBs, it should set the stage for a much-needed clean up of bank balance sheets.”

Mr. Manish Patel, Founder & CEO, Mswipe on digital payments, said, “Small retailers and kiranas were instrumental in growing the share of digital payments in India and in providing easy payment solutions to their customers since the onset of COVID 19. The budget provision of Rs.1500 crore to incentivize digital modes of payments comes as a recognition of these very efforts and will go a long way in encouraging Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to switch to accepting digital payments. The announcement by the Honourable Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has met the industry’s expectation of providing financial incentives that enable small businesses to adopt digital solutions. As India’s largest POS acquirer and end-to-end digital enabler of SMEs, Mswipe sees this as a great boost for digital payments infrastructure as well as growth in share of small businesses in online commerce. Further, the budget allocation of Rs.15,700 crore to support the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), which is more than double of this year’s budget estimate, is also a positive step. Similarly, the proposed development of a world class fintech hub at GIFT-IFSC is yet another effort in the direction of placing India as a leading innovation ecosystem on the global fintech map.”

Mr. Kunal Kislay, Co-founder, CEO, Integration Wizards Solutions, said, “Union Budget 2021 has highlighted the government’s focus in kickstarting the economy through boosting the infrastructure which in turn will create more jobs. Further, with a heavy budget of 5.4 lakh Cr, we can see the government recentering their attention towards building a stronger infrastructure via highways, railways, ports and energy, considering the high allocation towards MORTH. A robust tech integration would be needed in order to avert health hazards and keep a check on OSH. Additionally, promoting Atmanirbharta through extensive plans for the future of the retail and manufacturing sector which strengthens the fact that boosting the industrial sector was a key driving agenda of this budget. Out of the six pillars for the vision of Atma Nirbhar Bharat, Innovation and R&D stands to be pivotal for the enterprise tech sector. Through the 30-lakh-crore plan set up by the Finance ministry, improved credit access for enterprises is likely to bring about relief in the sector and also encourage the new entrants. The Tax audit threshold has been increased from 5 Cr to 10Cr, which is not a monetary gain but a convenience for MSMEs and startups. The Budget is focused on reviving the growth of our economy that was hampered by COVID.”

Anu Prasad, Founder & CEO of India Leaders for Social Sector (ILSS), said, “The Education Budget 2021 comes as a much-needed respite for small charitable Trusts amidst post-COVID fund crunch and current compliance structure for the sector. The key focus areas in education: will be effective implementation of NEP, setting up of Higher Education Commission and International research collaboration. These resources and opportunities will empower the youth of our country and our country will benefit from the demographic dividend. The good news for the education sector is that; government channelized efforts towards digitization, be it the additional allocation for MGNREGS, aim for technology-driven education National Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission. We strongly believe these efforts will converge into building a holistic blueprint for development on all human development indicators and benchmarks.”

Jyotsna Chaman, Co-Founder, Vaaya, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected not only the revenues but also the operational functions of the retail sector. While mass-production suffered tremendously as the pandemic continued to spew its wrath, customization was also on a low. This ordeal arises owing to auxiliary issues such as mass job losses, decrease in purchasing power, et al. Overall- revenues declined but expenses were constant, if not hiked. Recuperating from this deep blow would definitely require support from the Union Budget. While Make in India is a well-thought out initiative, the prowess to carry it ahead comes from digital and man-power advancement, which are main asks from the budget. This would also help to ensure seamless supply chains that would add to profits. Additionally, there is also an immediate need to simplify as well as reduce GST slabs so as to ensure participation from the retail sector and increase collection. The rollout of National Retail Policy is long awaited and would provide a framework and direction to the Indian retail sector- another important expectation from the budget. Incentives can be rolled out to new entrants into the industry so as to encourage them to create a niche for themselves and also contributing to India’s economy on the whole.

About Vaaya: Vaaya is a sustainable and body-positive clothing brand that embraces simplicity, comfort, beauty and good design. Each garment’s story begins at the grassroot level, with handpicking the weavers, dyes, prints, pattern and style, bringing you a unique design that is reflective of traditional Indian artisanal skills fused with modernity. Each piece is handcrafted using indigenous weaves and handwork that stands at the intersection of local and global, classic and contemporary.”

Dr. Ajay Data, Founder & CEO, VideoMeet, said, “The announcement by the Honorable Finance Minister regarding the startups was much required at the moment and will help the fledgling startups with meager resources to continue with their business operations without worrying about the compliance with complex taxes. The announcement comes soon after Prime Minister announced setting up of Rs 10,000 crore fund for seed funding of startups. These moves by the government make the intent of government clear that it wants to promote entrepreneurship and help the enthusiastic young entrepreneurs in the country. The setting up of separate administration structure to promote ease of doing business is a laudable move by the FM. Also, as predicted startups were given importance under this budget, and the industry is poised to be greatly benefited with the Tax holiday extended by another year till 31 March 2022.”

Mr. Dhruv Agarwala, Group CEO, Housing.com, Makaan.com and Proptiger.com, said, “Amid a sharp improvement in consumer sentiment with regard to property purchases post the start of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the government’s move in the Budget to extend the benefit of additional Rs 1.5 lakh tax deduction on home loan interest, until March 31, 2022, will act as a further impetus to the residential property sector. This move will augur well, especially for the affordable housing segment, which will also benefit from the decision to offer a tax holiday for affordable housing projects for one more year, to boost supply. The support announced today by the Honourable Finance Minister for rental housing too will go a long way in boosting the real estate market and will ease a lot of pressure points in the rental home market. This will also help migrant workers to a great extent and will support them in remaining in metros and other big cities during times of financial hardships such as the one presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the long-standing demand of the real estate industry to expand the definition of affordable housing so as to include homes priced more than Rs 45 lakhs in big metro cities, has sadly not been addressed. The infusion of lakhs of crores into India’s infrastructure segment, with a focus on improving connectivity, will be particularly beneficial for India’s housing sector. The proposed debt financing for REITs and InvITs, and the setting up of the Development Financial Institution for augmenting funds for infra and the real estate sector is expected to provide a major fillip to the sector, and will attract more investments in the sector. The proposed extension of the tax holiday for start-ups by one more year, a tax exemption for relocating funds to IFSC, and a tax holiday for the aircraft leasing business in GIFT city, are some of the other measures that would also help India’s real estate sector as a whole.”

Mr. Gaurav Shinh, CEO & Founder, DAAS Labs, said, “The Budget 2021-22 has left the data science community quite excited for what is to come. For me it was really interesting when the Government announced that it will launch multiple data analytics, AI, ML driven models for e-security, e-education, e- consultation, and compliance management. Also, the prospect of using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in GST Fraud Tracking is quite motivating and intriguing. The Government’s continued support for the startup is quite uplifting as the Government is setting aside Rs 15,700 crore in FY22 and has reduced margin money requirement from 25% to 15% for startups. The proposal of extending the tax holiday for start-ups by one more year will also give more confidence to the entrepreneurs.”

Mr. Sai Srinivas, Co-founder and CEO, Mobile Premier League(MPL), said, “Government’s budget announcement has been extremely encouraging for the start-up ecosystem in India. The extended exemption on capital gains for investments will definitely make more funds available for budding entrepreneurs and growing organizations alike. Digital payments infrastructure has played a very important role in the growth of the mobile gaming industry. It is very encouraging to see the government’s efforts to strengthen digital payments through incentivization. The Rs 1,500 crore boost will further support migration of more people towards digital payments and will have a positive impact on the mobile skill gaming industry. The incentivizing of one person companies is especially heartening as it promotes the development of more game creators that will help in strengthening the gaming industry in India. The move has also allowed conversion of one-person companies to any other kind, reducing residency limit from 182 days to 120 days. India is at the cusp of creating a wave of mobile gaming unicorns, these measures only support that momentum. With these announcements acting as winds in our sails the Indian Gaming Industry can aspire to be the Global Hub of game development.”

Mr. Aditya Narang, Co-founder & MD, SafeHouse Technologies, said, “We see this budget as a great step for India to become one of the largest economies. This is absolutely a pro-technology budget with a focus on Atma Nirbhar Digital India. Given the scenario today, we look forward to the government incentivizing AI and Data protection. We hope to see introduction of legislation and regulatory bodies by the government for timely interventions to make cyber security accessible not only to establishments but also for individuals.”

Mr. Rajesh Uttamchandani, Director, Syska Group said, “Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated that for a 5-trillion-dollar economy, our manufacturing sector has to grow in double digits on a sustained basis. We welcome the measures exercised by the honorable Prime Minister Shri Modi Ji and his government in the Union Budget towards boosting electronic manufacturing in the country. The government led by Modi Ji has pledged an infusion of Rs 1.97 lakh crore on various PLI schemes over the next 5 years, starting this fiscal. This is in addition to the Rs 40,951 crore towards the PLI scheme to help expand and boost exports. Today, India’s manufacturing industry has tremendous potential to place the country on the global manufacturing map, simultaneously boosting several employment opportunities to India’s youth. Our manufacturing companies need to become an integral part of global supply chains. With a budget of Rs 15,700 crore, which is more than two times that of the previous year, this will help strengthen the MSME sector in terms of productivity development, technology adoption, strengthening of infrastructure and more. As a company, Syska has always been aligned with the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat promoting sustainability through our products and creating new job opportunities. The budget has a positive, expansionary approach towards the manufacturing sector, which is reflected through the incentives and strengthening of the PLI schemes provided by the government.”

Mr. Kishan Jain, Director at Goldmedal Electricals said, “The Union Budget 2021 has provided massive opportunities for companies looking to set up manufacturing facilities in the country. Given our current economic situation across the globe caused by the pandemic, the Finance Minister’s decision to infuse INR 1.97 lakh crore towards various PLI scheme is laudable in addition to the Rs 40,951 crore towards the PLI scheme to help expand and boost exports. As correctly stated by FM Nirmala Sitharaman, our manufacturing companies need to become an integral part of global supply chain. Further, the provision of INR15,700 cr towards the MSME sector, will provide a further fillip to the Government’s flagship Make in India initiative. As a company, Goldmedal Electricals has always been at the forefront of introducing innovative and sustainable solutions that make our planet not only smarter but also sustainable for generations to come and support government’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat.”

Mr. Niraj Hutheesing, Founder and Managing Director, Cygnet Infotech, said, “We welcome the measures announced by the government of India in the Union Budget 2021. Significant capital expenditure in infrastructure and health care sectors will be a big asset for India. Promotion of digitization at large, and digital transactions particularly, is another positive aspect of the budget. There has been political will to take a big deficit for the next year. Simplifying the tax regime is another important aspect of this Budget. To ease compliance, the Finance Minister has increased the tax audit limit from ₹5 crore to ₹10 crores for the companies that conduct most of their business through digital modes. Additionally, the government is also planning to take steps to reduce inverted duty structures in GST and has proposed to review over 400 old exemptions in indirect taxes and will begin extensive consultation from October 2021. The budget also provided impetus on one of the most hard-pressing issues, namely tax evasion cases. The use of digital technologies such as automation solutions and data analytics tools can help in removing anomalies in the GST tax infrastructure and make it transparent to a great extent. All the measures announced today will further enable companies such as Cygnet Infotech to develop technology solutions for businesses to help them adhere to the taxation norms.”

Mr. Gaurang Sinha, Director of Go-to-Market Strategy at Flock, said, “We welcome the Finance Minister’s announcement to introduce the scheme allowing 1-person company(s) for start-ups and innovators to be exempted from paid-up capitals and turnover norms, in the Union Budget today. This will enable India to develop new technologies and boost employment like never before. Additionally, the government’s move towards boosting emerging technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics, will accelerate the growth of our digital economy. Further, the adoption of video conferencing for various tasks by the Government will encourage the use and demand for professional communication and collaboration platforms. We believe that with all of these measures, this new decade looks great for the Indian start-up ecosystem.

Mr. Kapil Makhija, CEO, Unicommerce, said, “We appreciate the government’s continued push towards digitization and strong infrastructure. The focus on development of roadways, dedicated freight corridor and airports will provide a great boost to logistic sector enabling faster product movement across the country. The strong road and rail connectivity will also help in making e-commerce logistics more sustainable in smaller towns, leading to higher growth of the e-commerce sector. We are optimistic that the government’s focus on encouraging digital transactions and strong push towards manufacturing in India, will boost the e-commerce growth in in the long run. The pandemic led to the acceleration of digitization across levels as online shopping became the new necessity and organizations were seen automating processes with technology solutions to bring in more efficiency. We are confident that upcoming e-commerce policy will provide further support to the industry and encourage MSME’s to join the e-commerce brand wagon.”

Mr. Ramesh Mamgain, Country Manager, India and SAARC, Commvault, said, “The Union Budget 2021 is sui generis considering that it is India’s first-ever ‘Digital Budget’. The gesture of doing away with the paper versions of Budget underlines government’s commitment towards PM’s ‘Digital India’ vision. A renewed focus on infrastructure would mean accelerated technology adoption, which cannot be accomplished without data privacy measures, propelled by data protection. This approach would help in strengthening India’s data protection framework to protect individual information, with investments in key technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to secure cloud-based infrastructures. While the capital expenditure on the physical connectivity – road, railway and port – has been highlighted throughout, I am sure that digital connectivity will ultimately become a cornerstone of everything we do in the current times. Overall, it is an inclusive and pro-growth budget, presenting a balanced stance on the pathway to recovery.”

Jaya Vaidhyanathan, CEO, BCT Digital, said, “2021 budget is more of an Infrastructure and Healthcare budget. Glad to see the stimulus to the economy keeping these spends in its core. Governance is also paid attention to. We would have loved to see some more announcements for the BFSI sector over and above the notable mentions like FDI limit being lifted for the insurance sector. And Interesting to see the conversation happening to see the shadow bad bank. While the Stressed assets are being moved to the asset recovery unit, we still have to wait and watch. It does make sense to take the assets to specialist to monetize it, but it also has the inherent risk of the bank just moving the bad assets rather than works on preventing issue of bad loans or prevents NPA’s. So we have to pay attention to its execution. And it is also to be seen who is going to be at the helm of the asset recovery to ensure that execution happens in the right way. There was emphasis on governance issues , and it goes with the turf of independent directors. So overall largely infra and healthcare, things have not been shaken up much, and attention is paid to economic recovery, but it is yet to be seen if this is a V share or U shape recovery. Let us hope the budget is executed well.”

Mr. Sunil Sharma, managing director – sales, Sophos India & SAARC, said, “The Government’s Union Budget 2021 is built on the foundation of new technologies such as Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) which will empower businesses with econsultation, escrutiny, and compliance management. This is surely going to enhance enterprise cybersecurity as AI has immense potential to bring in scalable and effective defenses against sophisticated attacks like ransomware. That said, this increased penetration of digital technologies brings with it additional cyber risks that one should be vary of. As per our recent survey, with 100% Indian businesses being concerned about their current level of cloud security, there is a need for initiatives that promote the development of cybersecurity skillsets. Additionally, this reskilling process should also take care of security of cloud environments which are the backbone of the accelerated digital transformation that India is witnessing due to the pandemic. While we welcome the Government’s proposed steps in strengthening MSMEs that provide employment to millions of people, we need more impetus on building skilled cybersecurity professionals in the country. The Government’s allocation of Rs. 3,000 crore towards skill development that will help reskill India’s youth and boost the overall economy, is a step in the right direction.”

Mr. Varun Babbar, Managing Director, Qlik India, said, “The Union Budget 2021 is truly a balanced and reformative framework that looks forward to bolstering an economy towards faster recovery and growth which was otherwise ravaged by the pandemic. We appreciate the government’s vision of an “Atma-Nirbhar Bharat” by providing economic assistance through tax reliefs, incentives and new policies. Continued support in areas like education and technology as well as providing breathing room for startups through initiatives like providing tax relief for one more year will help to kickstart a resilient economy for all industries. The government’s allocation of Rs. 1500 crores towards promoting digital modes of payment will also boost India’s digital payment infrastructure. Aligning with our focus to provide active intelligence and real-time analytics, the government’s allocation for infusion of Rs. 20,000 crores will help to reform the country’s surge in digital payments for the post-pandemic future.”

Mr. Dhruvil Sanghvi, Chief Executive Officer, LogiNext said, “We welcome the incentives proposed by Honourable Finance Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman. Strengthening global and national supply chains is of paramount importance for economic growth. The proposals to set up freight corridors across the country, as well as the proposal for a future ready rail system, along with development of national highways will bridge the gaps that currently exist, bringing in better connectivity between production and consumption markets. Furthermore, the push towards digitisation along with proposals of the one year tax holiday for startups and extending cap gains tax exemption for investment into start-ups shows the intent towards making it easier to do business in India and push forward on the technology wave.”

Mr. Ravi B. Goyal, Chairman & MD, AGS Transact Technologies Ltd., said, “Budget 2021 effectively addresses the impact of the pandemic on overall economy. The budget’s significant concentration on healthcare, allied industries and economic revival is a welcome move and may provide much needed respite in the near future. The proposed recommendation of allocating INR 1500 crores is a constructive step towards strengthening the overall payments infrastructure and bridging the digital divide in the country. We await more details on how this allocation will be used effectively to accelerate the already remarkable growth of digital transactions in the country. We also laud the Government’s move to set up a world-class fintech hub, Gujarat International Finance Tec (GIFT), which will spur innovation, growth as well as boost employment. Additionally, the introduction of two new metro technologies and steps towards building a strong transit ecosystem will go a long way in making India integrated economy.”

Mr. Sameer Katole, CEO, Crossloop, said, “The Hon’ble Finance Minister laid major emphasis on enhancing domestic manufacturing of electronic equipment. The Union Budget 2021 has a strong focus towards the revival of the economy and extensive plans for Atmanirbhar Bharat. It shows extreme commitment towards a strong comeback for the sectors which faced major backlashes in 2020. The budget covered several demanding issues faced by the economy earlier and with an attention concerning startup community, the extension of tax holiday for start-ups by one more year is an important decision made. This will encourage the survival of startups and give them the required support for bounce back. Further, the increased spending on PLI for electronic manufacturing schemes is a positive sign. The 2.5% taxation on manufacturing of smartphone parts is also a vital decision as it will boost the inclusive growth of the country and further bring major changes in the consumer electronic and domestic manufacturing segment.”

Mr. Sanjeev Singhai, Founder of wellnessta App, said,  “Kudos to our bold Prime Minister, under whose leadership the Hon’ble Finance Minister continues to steer the Indian Economy through difficult times of the pandemic. The stamp of commitment to make India a $5 trillion economy is very evident in this budget as the FM continues with her economic reforms. New announcements to support MSMEs and Startups with policies and reliefs are welcome steps. The announcement of Rs. 10,000 cr fund to support private equity and Rs. 5,000 cr VC Funds for distressed MSME assets along with Rs. 15,700 cr provisions MSME sector showcases Government commitment to support these two sectors. Extension of tax holidays for a year and capital gain exemptions are a welcome step. This will significantly help MSMEs and Startups to regain the lost grounds due to pandemic, step up manufacturing, exports and to create more employment in the country.”

Mr. Yashash Agarwal, CEO, Gamezop, said, The proposed broadening of the definition of Small Companies to include those up to Rs. 2 Cr. in paid up capital (as opposed to current limit of Rs. 50 lakh) as well those who have turnover of up to Rs. 20 Cr. (as opposed to Rs. 2 Cr. currently) is meaningful.Companies that qualify as Small Companies are subject to lesser number of compliances in conduct of board meeting, internal financial control reporting, annual return and financial statements, and so on. Hopefully, from here we will see further reduction in compliance burden for startups.

Mr. Surya Phadke, Chairman at Doot said, “We welcome the Hon’ble Finance Minister’s scheme to allow 1-person company(s) for innovators/startups to be exempt from Paid-up capitals and other norms. Further, the change in the dividend distribution tax laws is welcome and we hope will attract more foreign retail investors in the start-up sector. The government has also marked a change in several sectors to go paperless and reduce the tax-payers involvement in filing of taxes & compliance documents. The tax holiday on capital gains for start-ups has been pushed forward to 31st march 2022 which provides an additional philippe to the start-ups in all sectors.”

Mr. Samir Bhatia, Founder & CEO, SMEcorner, said, “The Hon. Finance Minister has presented a budget which will provide tremendous stimulus to the economy, and in particular, the MSME segment. Increase in import duties for certain products and rationalization of duties in the case of many items manufactured by MSMEs will help local industry compete against imports and boost their revenues. Besides, other changes such as increasing the limit for tax audit to 10crs of annual turnover for ‘digital’ MSMEs is a very welcome step. Overall, the budget will provide a major impetus to all sectors of the economy which was much needed. I give 100/100 to this budget!”

Mr. Balakrishnan Anantharaman, Vice President and Managing Director, Sales, Nutanix India, said, “The outlook for innovation from the 2021 budget remains strong, with a lot more focus on making an ‘Atmanirbhar’ ecosystem. Today tech startup companies have become the backbone for the growth of the country, we are optimistic about the initiatives taken to strengthen India’s digital drive and to further amplify the digital economy. The impact of the pandemic has forced sectors that operate traditionally to change their models rapidly to support modern trends. Two-thirds (70%) of the public sector are of the opinion that COVID-19 has caused IT to be viewed more strategically in their organisations, and hence the budgets intention to push for innovation and R&D is one step in the right direction for the tech sector, in establishing a Digital First mindset throughout India.”

Mr. Diwakar Nigam, Managing Director, Newgen Software, said, “The first “paperless” union budget underlines our government’s focus on three key areas, including innovation, skill development, and digital governance. The budget has come with encouraging announcements for the healthcare, infrastructure, and innovation ecosystem. The move to provide a greater impetus to R&D with an outlay of Rs 50,000 crore in the next five years will foster a culture of innovation, growth, and research. Furthermore, the focus on digital education, re-aligning the existing scheme of training programs, and partnering with UAE and Japan for skill development will help India in producing high-quality digital talent. The proposal to build a world-class fintech hub, digitization of railways, and first-ever digital census, reconfirms the government’s emphasis on creating a digital economy. Furthermore, the emphasis on technology, such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning-driven platform to enable e-courts and compliance management will go a long way in accelerating the nation’s digital initiatives. Moving ahead, we look forward to the expansion of the scope of corporate tax across the board, simplification of GST, and special monetary incentives for product software companies.”


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