The government plans to encourage adoption and skilling in technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), Big Data, 3D printing and virtual reality (VR), while simultaneously reducing India’s over dependence on electronics imports by encouraging "actual manufacturing", India's FM Nirmala Sitharaman pointed out in her maiden budget speech on Friday.
The FM pointed out that the government will launch a scheme to invite foreign companies through a transparent bidding process, to set up plants for manufacturing semi-conductors, solar photo voltaic cells, lithium cell batteries, solar electric charging vehicles, computer servers, and laptops.
They will also be provided income tax exemptions. To make India a global hub for manufacturing of electric vehicles, government has moved the GST council to lower GST rate on electric vehicles from 12% to 5%. To make electric vehicles affordable, buyers will be provided with an additional tax deduction of ₹1.5 lakhs on interest paid on loans taken to purchase them.
The Government of India proposes to set up a National Research Foundation to fund and encourage scientific research in the country. The Minister also proposed setting up of 20 technology business incubators in 2019-20 under the Aspire scheme.
"The establishment of National Research Foundation will promote indigenous technological development, particularly around globally scalable technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Robotics. We believe that this will pave the way for cutting-edge indigenous solutions and make India a technological epicenter in the international grandstand," said Atul Rai, CEO and Co-Founder of Staqu, a Gurgaon based AI startup.
The government recently announced it will set up a National Artificial Intelligence Center and National AI Portal. "It's time to change India's face from a SaaS provider to a tech-savvy product creator," said Vivek Goyal Co-Founder of PlayShifu, an augmented reality tech startup.
Also, to encourage of use of sustainable energy, a programme for scaling up the use of LED bulbs at a mass scale was taken up. Approximately 35 crore LED bulbs have been distributed under the Ujala Yojana, leading to an annual cost saving of ₹18,341 crores.
The government envisages making India free of incandescent bulbs and CFLs and is working on encouraging use of solar stoves and battery chargers.
Follow the highlights of the Union Budget 2019 here.