Digital emphasis across sectors . . .
On Tuesday, India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced India’s approximately C$670-billion Union Budget to Parliament. Amid COVID-19, increasing unemployment, and low consumer demand, the package will operate at a deficit, focusing spending on creating opportunities in the digital economy and both digital and traditional infrastructure sectors. Included among the tech-related proposals is the establishment of a digital university, e-Passports, and an animation, visual effects, gaming, and comics (AVGC) promotion task force. These preparations all benefit India’s startup ecosystem, the third-largest in the world.
India unveils digital rupee, taxes crypto . . .
Labelling cryptocurrencies as “virtual digital assets,” the budget includes a proposal to impose a 30 per cent tax on the transfer of such assets, including non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. Worth C$6.8 billion, crypto trading in India is increasingly popular among youth and is estimated to have 15 to 20 million investors nationwide. Despite the heavy taxation on digital assets, the move is considered favourable in contrast to last November's talks of outlawing cryptocurrency trades. In parallel, Sitharaman also announced a new currency, the Digital Rupee, which the Reserve Bank of India will issue in 2022-23. The digital currency aims to optimize transactions and the currency management system using blockchain technology. Many interpret the move as an attempt to bring digital currencies, their regulation and taxation, under the federal government's control.
Push for digital infrastructural development . . .
The 2022 budget revealed India’s desire to push digital technology to the forefront of its agenda. However, continuous investments in infrastructure remain critical to optimizing access and technological use. In this regard, the telecommunications sector expects to see growth as affordable broadband and mobile service reach rural and remote areas in the country by 2025. Furthermore, with the plan to auction 5G airwaves in one of the world’s largest wireless markets beginning this year, there is a recognition that 5G technology will generate significant job opportunities for India’s workforce. However, India will still have digital issues to combat, including the dissemination of fake newsand low digital literacy rates.