Shiksha Abhiyan was put in place to focus on improving the quality of education, an essential reform to improve sector outcomes. With higher budget allocation in place, it is very important to devise plans to increase engagement with private sector, which contributes well over 40 per cent of K-12 education in India.
FULL COVERAGE: UNION BUDGET 2017-18
CII, during the budget discussion for 17-18, has suggested a ten-fold increase in public investment in research in higher education institutions for enhancing the quality of education in India.
There is a lot of focus on improving the quality of top universities and institutes, but not as much on state universities where most students are enrolled. It is important to broad-base improved education so that the burden is not on a handful of locations offering the best. Further, well trained faculty/teachers, a sound infrastructure and a robust assessment framework are key ingredients to an effective education system.
FULL COVERAGE: RAILWAY BUDGET 2017-18
The Government of India's Startup India initiative encourages entrepreneurship and creates opportunity for people with talent. And there have been quite a few announcements to facilitate startups. There are some things which can be addressed better in the upcoming budget:
1. Alignment of IT and DIPP Startup policies: Of late, the IT Department has sent out tax notices to startups, presumably to tax the investment raised by startups from investors! While we clearly see the DIPP and Government coming out with supportive policies for startups, it would be best to align the taxation policies with the spirit and intent of the Startup India program.
2. Allowing more flexibility to people to buy and sell shares as well as subscribe to new shares in startups: This will help in faster wealth generation for startups employees as well as investors- helping create a powerful ecosystem around innovation in India.
3. Adjustment of investment made by founders in startups: Quite a few early stage entrepreneurs work in day jobs while also starting up their ventures. In such cases, their salary income is still taxed at the full bracket while any investments they make in the business and or losses they incur in business are not adjusted against this salary income. Even more starkly, many startup founders work solely for their startup and have no other job. Such entrepreneurs invest their savings in the business while earning no/little salary. But these entrepreneurs' investments in the business are not adjusted against the profits earned by entrepreneurs in the future! It would serve the startup community greatly if the personal losses made Startup Founders are 'carried forward' and adjusted against their salary income / capital gains in the future.
4. More comprehensive common services are needed for startup founders. Being a small team, founders often struggle with negotiating very basic but highly essential services for their employees, such as corporate employee health coverage / medi-claim coverage, personal loans from banks for employees to buy homes / vehicles etc. An ecosystem of service providers focused on catering to Startups is required.
(The author is founder and CEO of OnlineTyari, a Gurgaon-based test preparation app)