Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's Budget speech was laced with poetry. At times, even the prose sounded poetic. Sample this: "We wish to open up vistas for a vibrant and dynamic economy with a gentle breeze of new technology."
That "gentle breeze" includes data analytics, machine learning, robotics, bio-informatics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), among others. The government proposes to, or is already harnessing these technologies for efficiency, surveillance, and better distribution of subsidies.
Here's what Budget 2020 tells us.
FULL COVERAGE: Union Budget 2020Tech for improving tax compliance: "Dynamic QR-code is proposed for consumer invoices. GST parameters will be captured when payment for purchases is made through the QR-code. A system of cash reward is envisaged to incentivise customers to seek invoices. Deep data analytics and AI tools are being used to crackdown on GST input tax credit, refund and other frauds and to identify those trying to game the system. Invoice and input tax credit matching is being done wherein returns with mismatch of more than 10 per cent or above a threshold are identified and pursued," Sitharaman said.
AI for better stats: There is a growing need for the Indian statistical system to meet the challenges of real time monitoring, the Minister noted. "Data must have strong credibility. The proposed new National Policy on Official Statistics would use latest technology including AI. It would lay down a road-map towards modernised data collection, integrated information portal and timely dissemination of information," she added.
Machine learning in healthcare delivery: Machine learning and AI will be used for delivering the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Health authorities and the medical fraternity can target diseases with an appropriately designed preventive regime, Sitharaman said.
Digital connectivity: This is not new but is still worth mentioning. The Minister said that all public institutions at gram panchayat level such as anganwadis, health and wellness centres, government schools, PDS outlets, post offices and police stations will be provided with digital connectivity. "So, Fibre to the Home (FTTH) connections through Bharatnet will link 100,000 gram panchayats this year. It is proposed to provide Rs 6,000 crore to Bharatnet programme in 2020/21," she announced.
Digital platform for IP: More details are awaited on this. Sitharaman said India needs to expand the base for knowledge-driven enterprises. "Intellectual property creation and protection will play an important role. Several measures are proposed in this regard, which will benefit start-ups. A digital platform would be promoted that would facilitate seamless application and capture of IPRs," she noted.
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