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PM Modi says no to politics in the Union Budget, new age sectors is the flavour

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has refused to succumb to electoral pressures as the Union Budget announced on Tuesday had no mention of populism or playing to regional galleries.

Elections to five states are slated this month but a Budget perusal will leave you wondering as the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has focussed on the economy imperatives and there is no hint of populism or giveaways for even the largest state of Uttar Pradesh which is headed for the polls.

The FM's focus has been on growth and focussing on new age sectors like fin tech, start ups, crypto currency, digital rupee, drones, solar energy, leveraging technology among others.

The Budget announced startups will be promoted to facilitate 'Drone Shakti' through varied applications and for Drone-As-A-Service (DrAAS). In select ITIs, in all states, the required courses for skilling, will be started.

For education delivery, 'one class-one TV channel' programme of PM eVIDYA will be expanded from 12 to 200 TV channels. This will enable all states to provide supplementary education in regional languages for Classes 1-12.

A Digital University will be established to provide access to students across the country for world-class quality universal education with personalised learning experience at their doorsteps. This will be made available in different Indian languages and ICT formats. The University will be built on a networked hub-spoke model, with the hub building cutting edge ICT expertise. The best public universities and institutions in the country will collaborate as a network of hub-spokes, the Finance Minister announced.

An open platform, for the National Digital Health Ecosystem will be rolled out. It will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity, consent framework, and universal access to health facilities.

To better the access to quality mental health counselling and care services, a 'National Tele Mental Health Programme' will be launched. This will include a network of 23 tele-mental health centres of excellence, with NIMHANS being the nodal centre and International Institute of Information Technology-Bangalore (IIITB) providing technology support.

In recent years, digital banking, digital payments and fintech innovations have grown at a rapid pace in the country. Government is continuously encouraging these sectors 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, it is proposed to set up 75 Digital Banking Units (DBUs) in 75 districts of the country by Scheduled Commercial Banks.

The issuance of e-Passports using embedded chip and futuristic technology will be rolled out in 2022-23 to enhance convenience for the citizens in their overseas travel.

Considering the constraint of space in urban areas for setting up charging stations at scale, a battery swapping policy will be brought out and inter-operability standards will be formulated. The private sector will be encouraged to develop sustainable and innovative business models for 'Battery or Energy as a Service'. This will improve efficiency in the EV eco-system.

Efficient use of land resources is a strong imperative. States will be encouraged to adopt Unique Land Parcel Identification Number to facilitate IT-based management of records. The facility for transliteration of land records across any of the Schedule VIII languages will also be rolled out.

Telecommunication in general, and 5G technology in particular, can enable growth and offer job opportunities. Required spectrum auctions will be conducted in 2022 to facilitate rollout of 5G mobile services within 2022-23 by private telecom providers, the Budget announced.

Artificial Intelligence, Geospatial Systems and Drones, Semiconductor and its eco-system, Space Economy, Genomics and Pharmaceuticals, Green Energy, and Clean Mobility Systems have immense potential to assist sustainable development at scale and modernize the country. They provide employment opportunities for youth, and make Indian industry more efficient and competitive.

Supportive policies, light-touch regulations, facilitative actions to build domestic capacities, and promotion of research & development will guide the government's approach. For R&D in these sunrise opportunities, in addition to efforts of collaboration among academia, industry and public institutions, government contribution will be provided, as another thrust area of the Budget.

To facilitate domestic manufacturing for the ambitious goal of 280 GW of installed solar capacity by 2030, an additional allocation of Rs 19,500 crore for Production Linked Incentive for manufacture of high efficiency modules, with priority to fully integrated manufacturing units from polysilicon to solar PV modules, will be made.

Venture Capital and Private Equity invested more than Rs 5.5 lakh crore last year facilitating one of the largest start-up and growth ecosystem. Scaling up this investment requires a holistic examination of regulatory and other frictions. An expert committee will be set up to examine and suggest appropriate measures, it said.

Introduction of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) will give a big boost to digital economy. 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.

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