Budget: Rs 6000 crore proposed for Bharatnet to link 100,000 Gram Panchayats

New Delhi, February 1, 2020

Among a slew of measures proposed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Union Budget 2020-21, presented in Parliament today, were a provision of Rs 6000 crore for Bharatnet to link 100,000 Gram Panchayats and a Rs 8000 crore outlay over five years for the National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications.

The Minister observed that technologies like AI, Internet-of-Things (IoT), 3D printing, drones, DNA data storage, quantum computing and so on were rewriting the world economic order.

She noted that India has already embraced new paradigms such as the sharing economy with aggregator platforms displacing conventional businesses. The Government has also harnessed these new technologies to enable direct benefit transfers and financial inclusion on a scale never imagined before.

Highlighting the importance of "data as the new oil", the Minister asserted that Analytics, Fintech and IoT were changing the way people deal with their lives. She said a policy would be brought out soon to enable the private sector in building Data Centre Parks throughout the country, to incorporate data in every step of their value chains.

Another proposal is to link 100,000 Gram Panchayats this year with Fibre to the Home (FTTH) connections through Bharatnet. This will fulfil the vision of providing digital connectivity to all ‘public institutions’ like Anganwadis, health and wellness centres, government schools, etc. at Gram Panchayat level. It is proposed to provide Rs. 6000 crore to the Bharatnet programme in 2020-21, she added.

With a view to expanding the base for knowledge-driven enterprises, Sitharaman underscored the importance of intellectual property creation and protection. In this context, she proposed several measures to benefit start-ups. These include a digital platform that would facilitate seamless application and capture of IPRs. A Centre is also proposed to be established in an Institute of Eminence for working on innovation in the field of Intellectual Property.

Knowledge Translation Clusters will be set up across different technology sectors including new and emerging areas. Technology Clusters, with test beds and small scale manufacturing facilities for designing, fabrication and validation of proof of the concept will be established.

Two National-level Science Schemes are proposed to be initiated to create a comprehensive database of mapping India’s genetic landscape, given its criticality for next generation medicine, agriculture and biodiversity management.

It is also proposed to provide early life funding, including a seed fund, to support ideation and development of early-stage Start-ups.

The Finance Minister noted that quantum technology was opening up new frontiers in computing, communications, cybersecurity with wide-spread applications. A lot of commercial applications are expected to emerge from theoretical constructs developing in this area. She proposed to provide an outlay of Rs 8000 crore over a period of five years for the National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications.


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