Walking down the ‘Digital India’ lane, the Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in one of the biggest ‘Big tech’ Budget 2022 announcements on Tuesday, embraced the ‘tech bylanes’ to focus on e-governance, digitisation while driving the economy on a growth trajectory.
From launching digital currency to starting 75 new digital banks in 75 districts and from launching digital university to introducing e-passports and drone tech to further agriculture output all tech-backed programmes featured in the Union finance ministers’ list during her Budget 2022 presentation on Tuesday.
Adopting drone tech to expand agricultural output:
Among the top e-governance initiatives announced during the Union Budget 2022 include the use of drone technology to increase agricultural output. According to the Budget announcement, the use of Kisan Drones will be promoted for crop assessment, digitization of land records and spraying of insecticides and nutrients.
“Use of Kisan drones will be promoted for crop assessments, digitization of land records and spraying of insecticides and nutrients. States will be encouraged to revise syllabi of agri universities,” Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
Digital University at fore:
The Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has proposed to set up a digital university to provide education that will be built on a hub and spoke model. The FM announced that 1-Class-1-TV channel will be implemented to provide supplementary education to children to make up for the loss of formal education due to the pandemic. Open platform for National Digital Health Ecosystem:
The Union finance minister announced a new open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem to be rolled out under Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM).
The National Digital Health Ecosystem platform will include digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity, consent framework and would provide universal access to the health facilities.
75 Digital Banking units to be setup in 75 districts:
While announcing large scale digital upgradation in the banking sector, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced setting up of 75 digital banking units in 75 districts by scheduled commercial banks.
“In recent years, digital banking, digital payments and fintech innovations have grown at a rapid pace in the country, and the government has been continuously encouraging them to ensure that the benefits of digital banking reach every nook and corner of the country in a consumer-friendly manner.
Taking forward this agenda, and to mark 75 years of our independence, the Finance Minister announced that it is proposed to set up 75 Digital Banking Units (DBUs) in 75 districts of the country by Scheduled Commercial Banks,” Sitharaman said.
Digital rupee for digital economy to emerge in FY23:
Supplementing the needs of digitisation in the banking sector, the Union finance minister has also announced to launch digital currency in the next financial year beginning April 2022 to boost the digital economy and efficient currency management.
According to the Union minister, the introduction of a central bank digital currency will not just boost the digital economy, but the digital currency will also help in better the currency management system in terms of tracking and transparency.
“Digital currency will also lead to a more efficient and cheaper currency management system. It is therefore proposed to introduce digital rupee using blockchain and other technologies to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India, starting 2022-23,” Sitharaman said.
Also while further liberalising the banking sector for farmers and poor, the Union minister announced to link all the post offices with the regular banking system, a move that will give a much required boost to the rural economic ecosystem.
e-Passports to be a reality soon:
The Union Budget 2022 has set the ball rolling for the launch of Passports with biometrics in 2022-23. The Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech said e-passports will be launched in 2022-23.
So far very few countries including Germany, UK use such hi-tech biometrics enabled e-passports. An e-passport generally comes fitted with a small electronic chip containing the data.
5G auctions, rollout on cards:
While signalling a ‘paradigm’ shift in the model of governance, the Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her fourth Budget presentation also announced the future roadmap of last mile digital connectivity furthering the reach of government schemes in the remotest areas.
To enhance digital connectivity the Union minister announced that the Centre will conduct a spectrum auction this year, a move that will fast track the 5G roll-out by private telecom operators in the current fiscal. This will facilitate the rollout of 5G services by private telecom operators during the current financial year 2022-23.
“Spectrum auctions will be conducted in 2022 to facilitate the roll-out of 5G mobile services within 2022-23 by private telecom providers,” Sitharaman said.
According to Sitharaman, better digital connectivity with the launch of 5G will enable affordable broadband and mobile service proliferation in rural and remote areas. The Centre has also announced to allocate 5% of annual collections under the universal service obligation fund under the budgetary plan.
“This will promote R&D and commercialisation of technologies and solutions. Our mission is that all villages and their residents should have the same access to e-services, communication facilities and digital resources as urban areas and their residents,” Sitharaman said.
According to the Union minister, the contract for laying optical fibre in all villages, including remote areas, will be awarded through the BharatNet project through PPP in 2022-23. “Completion is expected in 2025. Measures will be taken to enable better and more efficient use of the optical fibre,” Union minister said.