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ICT Industry’s Reaction on Union Budget 2020-21

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The tech business leaders have expressed their views with DT on the Union Budget 2020-21, which we have compiled for our readers.

“The Union Budget Perfectly Balanced All Main Parameters Of Our Economic Dynamics”

Kashish Jhamb, Executive Director and CEO, City Innovates said “The Union Budget of the new government perfectly balanced all main parameters of our economic dynamics including, skill development, job creation and technological advancement. This primarily enables tech-centric start-ups with the more favorable business environment as new investment clearance cell scheme is set to provide end-to-end facilitation and support to start-ups which are driving potential technology businesses such as AR / VR etc. I consider this as one of the highly significant initiatives taken by the GoI that is set to encourage young entrepreneurs with powerful business ideas. We are glad to know that the government proposed Rs. 27,300 crore towards the development and promotion of industry and commerce in 2020-21 which will contribute to the economy’s growth.”

 

“The Policy of Setting Up Data Center Parks will Open New Opportunities For Tech Services Companies”

Munira Savai, Country Manager, QAD India said “The Union Budget 2020 has concentrated on the development of the country and has brought a positive sentiment to the economy as a whole. We are glad to know that the government has come up with an extensive plan to boost the manufacturing sector with the investment plan of almost Rs 22,000 crore for the infrastructure projects that might also introduce emerging technologies targeting to strengthen the entire ecosystem. Also, the policy of setting up data center parks is set to open up new opportunities for tech services companies which will attract foreign investments to creating an adequate infrastructure for all industry sectors. We are confident that these developments will drive significant growth for the entire sector.”

 

“The Government’s Plan to Bring out a Policy for Data Center Parks Will Empower the IT-Services Industry”

Kushal Nahata, CEO & Co-founder, FarEye stated “We welcome the progressive budget by the government this year. The logistics industry has been a key focus for the government in the past few years and with the announcement of the soon to be launched National Logistics Policy- the industry is going to get a major boost. Allocation of Rs 1.7 lakh crore for transport infrastructure in FY21 and the move to monetize 12 lots of highway bundles of over 6,000kms before 2024 is welcoming news as it will positively impact freight movement and transportation expenditures. The government’s focus on promoting disruptive technologies like AI and IoT is critical for the supply chain and logistics industry. It’s important for enterprises to leverage these technologies to improve operational efficiencies and keep margins wider. The government’s plan to bring out a policy for data center parks throughout the country will definitely empower the IT-services industry.”

 

“The Definition Of “Eligible Startups” Must Be Broadened To Bring More Companies In This Fold”

Yashash Agarwal, CEO, Gamezop commented “FM’s proposal of delaying tax collection on the exercise of ESOPs is a welcome move. The current structure looks to collect taxes too early causing employees to not exercise vested shares. Easing direct taxation for eligible startups will encourage businesses to chase the right metrics and not just growth at the by bleeding money. The definition of “eligible startups” must be broadened to bring more companies in this fold.”

 

“The Introduction of an Investment Clearance Cell Will Provide A Boost To Young Entrepreneurs”

Shailen Mehta, Founder and Managing Director, eJOHRI stated “Digital revolution plays a crucial role in the growth of the Indian startup ecosystem and Initiatives like online tax assessment, facial assessments, facial KYCs will provide the much needed stack, essential for the growth of startups. ESOPs have become instrumental in Indian corporate and startup ecosystem to woo high-value employees and retain talent. Exemption of taxes on ESOPs will further encourage companies to introduce ESOPs in their companies at a large level, which in turn will allow them to attract world-class talent while keeping employee costs in check. India is the third largest startup hub in the world, the introduction of an Investment Clearance Cell and seed funding will provide a boost to young entrepreneurs of India who are enthusiastically looking to build a bootstrapped business, and build sustainable revenue businesses.”

 

“The Announcement of Opening Internship Opportunities With Urban Local Bodies Will Directly Impact Jobs And Skill Development”

Sanjay Goyal, Business Head, TimesJobs and TechGig commented “I would term it as a ‘forward-thinking’ Budget. The announcement of Rs 6,000 Crore to boost internet connectivity is certainly a piece of big news for the internet and e-commerce industries. The announcement of a single investment clearance window for entrepreneurial projects will boost the ‘Startup India’ mission. There was also an announcement about opening internship opportunities with urban local bodies and Rs 1 lakh Crore push for education, which will directly impact jobs and skill development. And, for those seeking jobs with the government sector, there’s a plan for setting up a national recruitment agency for the hiring of non-gazetted jobs. These and other announcements of investments in the Healthcare and other sectors will give impetus to the recruitment scenario”.

 

“The Importance of Analytics, IoT, And AI Has Been Recognized In This Budget”

Abhishek Kothari, Co-Founder at FlexiLoans.com said “The Union Budget 2020 has shown a ray of light for the Fintech sector, with FM Nirmala Sitharaman stating that India will embrace a shared economy with aggregators displacing regular business. The importance of Analytics, IoT, and AI has been recognized in this budget, as they are set to change the world. A policy has been announced to set-up data centre parks all through the country. Furthermore, she went on to add that public institutions, which are at Gram Panchayat level, will be provided with digital connectivity, as Fibre to home will link over 100,000 Gram Panchayats in FY21, through BharatNet. For this, Rs 6,000cr have been allocated to BharatNet. Moreover, Rs 8,000cr is also being allocated to set up for National Mission on Quantum Computing and Technology. It is good to see technology find a significant mention in the budget. If done correctly, setting up Data Centre Parks, Fibre to home and investments in quantum computing, have the ability to create a digital connected India. The proof is always in the execution.”

 

“The Budget Has Taken Many Positive Announcements For The Economy And Start-Ups”

Manish Lunia, Co-Founder at FlexiLoans.com commented “The budget has taken many positive announcements for the Economy and Start-ups.

Few prominent ones include:

  1. Solid acknowledgment of the role of Entrepreneurs and the support to them via measures like Entrepreneurship Cell, ESOP tax reliefs
  2. Fintech initiatives like the enhanced used of Data science, Cloud computing, Working with Treds, CGTMSE for Loans to MSMEs etc can be a path breaker for many
  3. Enhanced enablers like income tax benefits to individuals, added securitization benefits to NBFCs, etc. are good enablers for the ecosystem

 

“Government’s Emphasis to Increase Digital Penetration Will Further Strengthens India’s Internet Potential”

Vinu Cheriyan, CFO & Director Operations, Sennheiser India commented “For 2020-2021 Union budget, the government has made some notable announcements that are aimed towards strengthening the industry and commerce sector. It also focuses on enhancing growth of youth with skill development. The allocation of Rs 27,300 crore for development of industry and commerce will help in the overall growth of the country. Government’s plans to announced a new scheme to encourage domestic manufacturing of mobile phones, electronics and semiconductor boards, to expand rural development using modern digital technologies to generate massive employment. Furthermore, allocating Rs 3,000 crore for the Skill India programme is also set to increase the skill based jobs in India. To further improve this and provide employment, 115 higher education institutions will also start apprenticeship from March 2021 which will benefit the youth of this country. This initiative will also help people in getting the appropriate jobs basis to their skillsets. Focus on AI, Internet-of-Things (IoT), quantum computing, a policy to build data centre parks across the country will help in channelizing the explosion of digital technology in the country. With government’s emphasis to increase digital penetration and consumption of mobile, will further strengthens India’s internet potential. This allows for immense growth possibilities for the entertainment industry, further giving a push to the audio accessories industry.”

 

“With The Proposition For Five New Smart Cities Will Open New Opportunities In IT Sector”

Trishneet Arora, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, TAC Security “Union Budget 2020 announcements by the Finance Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman are beginning to bring about more confidence in the development of the Cyber Security sector in India. With the allocation of Rs. 8000 crore for the National Mission on Quantum Computing and Technology and an indication at the opening of Cyber Forensic University, the govt. ‘s proposition for digital penetration to make FTTH accessible to 10 lakh Gram Panchayat via Bharat Net will help position India against global leaders in the sector. This will give a big boost to the cyber security industry. The Finance Minister also announced establishing Data Centre Parks for the private sector and a focus on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to enhance the health industry under the Ayushman Bharat scheme which further strengthens the confidence of the Cyber Security  sector making its way into important industries, coming to the rescue of the national economic health. Also, with the proposition for five new smart cities in collaboration with states via PPP model will open up new opportunities for Quantum Technology generating new opportunities for different players in the IT sector. These budget announcements shall boost the Indian players’ morale in the cyber security space, giving boost to the further success of the Make in India and Digital India flagship campaigns of GoI.”

 

“Budget 2020 Truly Sharpens The Country’s Focus On Becoming The Next Global Hub For Education”

“Budget 2020 truly sharpens the country’s focus on becoming the next global hub for education. Significant announcements like the introduction of FDI in the education sector, launch of ‘Study in India’ programme, new apprenticeship programmes and online degree courses, besides the continued budget allocation for skill development, reiterate the government’s commitment towards the youth of our country. I am confident that these strategic initiatives will play a decisive role in the building of a New Digital India.” Commented Dr. Sanjay Gupta, VC of World University of Design.

 

“The Union Budget Has Rightly Focused On Entrepreneurship As A Major Pillar Of The Economy”

“The Union Budget has rightly focused on entrepreneurship as a major pillar of the economy. We applaud the Centre’s proposal of setting up an investment clearance cell for end-to-end entrepreneurial facilitation. Further, the Hon’ble Finance Minister’s scheme to provide subordinate debt for MSME entrepreneurs also boosts the segment. We also welcome the Government’s thrust on sourcing external commercial borrowing and FDI financing to attract talent in the educational sector.” Stated Dr. BBL Madhukar, Founder, Director General of BRICS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE & INDUSTRY

 

“Indian IT Players Will Benefit From The Building Of Additional Data Centres”

Ankit Dudhwewala, Founder, SoftwareSuggest & CallHippo said “When it was announced, the budget hurt the Sensex. In the grip of a slowdown, businesses in India expected a far more pro-business budget. While the budget may not be precisely what the business community wanted, it has several silver linings, especially for the IT sector. Data centres are at the heart of a modern digital economy; the government’s decision to promote the establishment of data centres in India is a win-win for businesses and consumers. A considerably more significant number of data centres in India will make the economy more competitive globally. Indian IT players will benefit from the building of additional data centres. The relaxation related to Employee Stock Option Plans is another huge plus. Employees awarded stocks need not pay tax on them for the next five years. Not paying tax on stocks will go a long way in making companies competitive by helping them attract the best talent. Finally taxing dividend when it is in recipients hands will be beneficial to the business”.

 

“India’s Plan to Invest $1.12 Billion In National Mission On Quantum Technologies Is A Great Step”

Suman Reddy Eadunuri, MD, Pegasystems India commented “The government’s decision to announce measures through the three themes – Aspirational India, Economic Development and Caring Society covers the aspirations of all. This interim budget, has a fair impetus on the technology sector. We see acknowledgement of the role of AI, Analytics, IoT along with schemes to deploy these technologies in the public sector. The setting up of a digital platform for seamless application and capture of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) moves us closer towards an era of enhanced public-private partnership where technology will play a decisive role. The implementation of a policy to build data centre parks throughout the country is another welcome move which will help immensely in data management. As the 5th largest economy of the world with a vibrant startup ecosystem, the announcement to create more opportunities for entrepreneurs and setting up of an Investment Clearance Cell which will offer assistance in funding will boost the industry. India’s plan to invest Rs 8,000 crore (~$1.12 billion) over the next five years in the National Mission on Quantum Technologies (NMQT) is a step in the right direction which will augment the industries dependent on these future technologies. India’s plan to come up with five new smart cities further solidifies its stance of a sustainable and citizen centric future which I am sure will elevate the quality of life.”

 

“The Announcement For The Subordinate Debt For Entrepreneurs Is A Big Positive”

Tim Nicolle, Founder, PrimaDollar, says, “The Finance Minister’s announcements under Union Budget 2020 introducing new schemes will help the small players in the export sector in a big way. The new Nirvik scheme introduces high insurance cover for exporters at a reduced premium. Simplified processes for faster claim settlements will be beneficial for both the exporters and the general insurers. It will lead to providing high insurance cover, reduction in premium for small exporters and simplified procedures for claim settlements, this will encourage export finance. This will boost exports. Coming to the MSMEs, the announcement for the subordinate debt for entrepreneurs is a big positive and will help the MSME sector benefit in a massive way. These seem to be sound measures that can stimulate profitable activities for players in the trade and finance sector.”

 

“Making Policy Connecting 1 Lakh Villages Via Optical Fiber Internet Is Great News For Digital India”

Harsh Jain, Co-founder and COO, Groww, stated “Making policy for data center parks for digital resources like fintech, AI, aggregator platforms along with the connection of 1 lakh villages via optical fiber internet is great news for digital India. This will definitely increase digital penetration into India that was unthinkable before.”

 

“Deferment of ESOP Taxation Is A Very Welcome Move”

Archit Gupta, Founder, and CEO, Cleartax, commented “Firstly the deferment of ESOP taxation at the time of exercise is a very welcome move. This will help motivate and hire high quality resources. The amendments to section 80IAC on relief to startups is lacklustre. This section has several conditions that need to be fulfilled and a lot of approvals built into it as eligibility criteria. The government needs to relax this more. Reduced compliances via single window for multiple compliances, reduced applicability of various Acts could really ease doing business in India and this will be more impactful.”

 

“By Allowing Data Centre Parks In The Country, The Government Has Set A Positive Sentiment”

Meghna Suryakumar, Founder & CEO, Crediwatch said “The focus on enabling growth for MSMEs in today’s Union Budget is encouraging. Enabling NBFCs to extend invoice financing to MSMEs through TReDS, should enhance opportunity to fuel the Indian economy and widen the acceptability and trust by the BFSI sector. The extension of GEM e-marketplace as a unified procurement channel should bring more vendors (from the current 3.2 lac) onto the platform. Additionally, amendments to Factor Regulation Act 2011 should boost the MSME sector. On the Debt Recovery side for lenders, the allowance to smallers NBFCs to approach the DRT for smaller ticket size loans, would be beneficial in lowering NPAs & improving the asset quality. However, we expected to hear more clarity on the scheme to provide subordinate debt to be provided by banks for entrepreneurs of MSMEs since less than 15 % of the 50+ million Indian Small businesses have access to formal credit and there is a debt financing gap of the SME is over $1 Trillion. By allowing data centre parks in the country, the government has set a positive sentiment for the industry. While this will allow better infrastructure in storing and dissemination of data, we were expecting the government to touch upon incentives for setting up data centres which will allow Fintechs to scale faster at an economical cost. This coupled with the extension of Bharat Net (FTH) to 1 lac gram panchayats would add a significant boost to the Digital push in the country.Given that several steps have been taken in the past to drive the Corporate Bond market in India, the increase of FPI limits from 9% to 15% is a positive push to increase international participation in high quality borrowers via the debt route. This coupled with easy access to credit from banks & NBFCs should bring down credit costs in the medium term. For start-ups, considering the fact that in the initial years, one may not have adequate profit to avail this deduction, extension to avail the claim of deduction from the 7 years to 10 years is a breather. Deferral of tax on ESOP plans for start-ups should also help bring quality corporate talent to this industry.”

 

“This Budget Has Certainly Addressed Some Challenges That Were Faced By Budding Start-Ups”

Sandipan Mitra, Founder, Hungerbox, said “India has embraced the shared economy and welcomed the digital revolution with open arms. The Union Budget provides some important benefits for  emerging entrepreneurs. With the corporate tax being slashed to 22%, companies can now have a little more room to breathe and benefit from the assistance in funding through the investment clearance cell that has been proposed. This budget has certainly addressed some challenges that were faced by budding start-ups and has made it easier for them to receive funding from investors.”

 

“No Audit For Companies With Up To Rs 5 Crore Turnover Will Improve Ease Of Doing Business”

Ankur Choudhary, Co-Founder & CIO, Goalwise.com, commented “On the personal finance front, the 2020 budget has not lived up to the expectations of the taxpayers. While increasing the insurance cover for bank depositors from 1 lakh to 5 lakhs is a positive and much awaited step but on the income tax side, it has been a disappointment. Although a new tax regime with lower tax rates has been introduced, the removal of all exemptions including even 80C exemptions, will water down its benefits. On top of it, the option to choose the old or the new income tax regime will just complicate filing income tax returns which was already a complicated process for individual tax payers. Although the Dividend Distribution Tax has been abolished at the company level but now it will be taxable at the hands of the investor. For startups and MSMEs, the increase in turnover limit and number of years to avail tax exemptions benefits is a positive. Also, no audit for companies with up to Rs 5 crore turnover and amending the Companies Act to remove criminal liabilities for offences that are civil in nature will improve ease of doing business.”

 

“We Welcome The Government’s Move Towards Boosting Emerging Technologies Such As IoT, ML And AI”

Bhavin Turakhia, Founder & CEO, Flock said, “We are delighted with the steps taken by the Government in the Union Budget towards providing an impetus to entrepreneurship and acknowledging that startups are major job creators. This year, the budget has allocated Rs. 3,000 crore for skill development, which will help in creating a future-ready workforce. The provision for setting up an investment clearance cell for entrepreneurs, an online portal to facilitate quicker business clearances, and a seed fund to support early-stage startups will all collectively attract foreign investment in Indian startups. At present, startup employees are required to pay tax whenever they sign up for ESOPs with a vesting schedule and also pay taxes on capital gains whenever they redeem their ESOPs. As a provisionary measure to this, the minister has proposed deferring the tax payment by five years, or until employees leave the company, or when they sell their shares—whichever is earlier. Additionally, we welcome the government’s move towards boosting emerging technologies such as internet of things (IoT), machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics which will provide a filip to the country’s digital economy. We believe that with all of these measures, 2020 will be a great year for the Indian startup ecosystem.”

 

“The Thrust On Entrepreneurship And Tax Regulations For Startups And Taxpayers Is A Good Move”

Kunal Lakhara, VP of Finance and Operations, Pocket Aces says, “Budget 2020’s revised fiscal deficit target of 3.8% of the GDP seems more realistic and focus on spends/ benefits was required to boost the economy. The thrust on entrepreneurship and tax regulations for both, startups and taxpayers is a move in the right direction. India is the third largest startup hub globally and the announcement of an investment clearance cell to provide end-to-end support to startup founders will encourage more youth to be job creators. Further, the ability to defer taxes on ESOPs will democratise wealth creation for startup employees, ensuring the right talent is benefitted. Finally, the decision to grant 100% tax exemptions to sovereign wealth funds on their investment in priority sectors will provide the much needed funding boost to the sector and create value in the longer run.”

 

“The Allocation Of Budget To Bharatnet Will Also Have A Deep Impact On Skilling Rural India”

“The vision of making education accessible to the farthest corner of the country will greatly benefit students. The allocation of budget to hone the skill sets of teachers and educators will positively impact quality learning and thereby provide a boost to the education sector. Additionally the allocation of budget to BharatNet will also have a deep impact on skilling rural India as it has the potential to open up online learning to students and professionals from remote villages. With better bandwidth internet, a qualified teacher located in a metro city can impart LIVE online classes to students in small town India, where there’s a dearth of quality education. Technology will soon disrupt the entire concept of the classroom and make it an extremely personalized, one to one teaching-learning experience tailored for each mind.” Commented Vamsi Krishna, CEO & Co-founder, Vedantu

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Dinesh Nair Appointed as Director for Consumer Business Lenovo India

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Global technology leader Lenovo has appointed Dinesh Nair as Director, Consumer Business for India region. Dinesh succeeds Mr. Shailendra Katyal, who has recently been appointed Site Leader for Lenovo India and Managing Director of Lenovo’s PC and smart device business in India. 

Dinesh Nair has been an integral part of the Lenovo India consumer business for more than 11 years and has worked successfully across several roles. His most recent role was as the sales & channel management lead for Lenovo’s consumer segment in India. He has handled leadership responsibilities across offline general trade retail, distribution management, field sales, eCommerce, large format retail and category management, and has been a key contributor to the company’s growth journey in India. 

“During this difficult time in India, we are working hard to ensure the safety of our employees, partners and customers and I am grateful that we have excellent leaders in place to bring our team together and offer this support. I am proud to hand over the reins of the consumer business to Dinesh. At the same time, this is a demonstration of our commitment to developing talent internally. I am sure he, along with the consumer leadership team, will propel the business to new heights,” said Shailendra Katyal, Managing Director, Lenovo India.

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ASUS ROG Announces ROG Masters Asia Pacific eSports Tournament

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ASUS ROG will host its first ROG Masters Asia Pacific eSports tournament from March to April 2021. Due to COVID-19 pandemic affecting travel around the region, the tournament will be conducted entirely online, with quarterfinal to final matches livestreamed.

The ROG Masters tournament will feature Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) as the official game title will provide opportunity to teams with enthusiastic players to pitch their skills against each other, as well as the best professional teams from their market and in the region.

Tournament Structure

The tournament will see various teams from 15 markets across the region vying for the chance to be crowned as the first ROG Masters Asia Pacific Edition CS:GO Champion. 

The tournament will be played in three stages played over the course of 2 months:

  • Country qualifiers
  • Country finals
  • Asia Pacific finals

Country qualifiers matches for India will start in the second week of April 2021; 8th April and the finals to be held on the 10th April. The India finals to find the top three teams to represent the country will be livestreamed live on 10th April.

Professional teams from across the region will be automatically placed into seeded positions in the country finals. This gives a greater chance for non-professional, enthusiast teams from India to get through the qualifiers and meet the pro teams in the country finals. 

Country Champions will then go on to experience battling winning teams from other APAC markets in the finals that will be livestreamed during 22nd to 25th April 2021.

Prizes

3 qualifying teams from India finals will stand to win US$800 for first place, US$400 for second place, US$200 for third place. They will then go on to the Asia Pacific finals with the chance to win the following prizes for the championship:

ROG Masters APAC ChampionshipAPAC Finals (USD/ team)
1st$10,000
2nd$3,500
3rd$1,500

Registration and Official Tournament Website

Registration for the first ROG Masters Asia Pacific tournament opens on February 8, 2021 at the tournament’s official website.

Registration closes on February 28, 2021 Further details, match schedules, pro team information as well as rules and regulations can also be found on the tournament website.

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Garena Launches Free Fire South Asia Showdown: Battle of the Stars

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Garena has announced the Free Fire South Asia Showdown: Battle of the Stars, Free Fire’s first-ever esports tournament for the South Asia region. Taking place on 6 February, the tournament will feature some of the gaming community’s favourite Free Fire streamers and personalities from India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

The Free Fire community has continued to expand in South Asia and across the world, with the mobile battle royale game the most downloaded mobile game globally in 2020, according to App Annie. Through the Free Fire South Asia Showdown: Battle of the Stars, Garena will look to continue its efforts to excite and delight its fast-growing South Asian community with exciting Free Fire content, and to support and develop the incredible online community in the region.

Tournament Format

The Free Fire South Asia Showdown: Battle of the Stars will feature a total of 12 teams. Each team will be led by one of the top 3 streamers from each of the 4 participating nations – chosen by public voting – in this epic clash to determine the best in the region. 

The 12 teams will compete in the Battle Royale Squad mode for a slice of the 1 million diamond prize pool. The ultimate winner of this star-studded tournament will receive 500,000 in-game diamonds; the first and and second runners-up will be awarded 300,000 and 200,000 diamonds respectively. 

Invited Teams

The Free Fire South Asia Showdown: Battle of the Stars will feature some of the most popular streamers and personalities from across South Asia. 

The team captains for each nation are: 

India

  • Total Gaming (19.4 Million YT Subs)
  • Desi Gamers (7.8 Million YT Subs)
  • Two-Side Gamers (6.85 Million YT Subs)

Bangladesh

  • Gaming with Nayeem (1.6 Million YT Subs)
  • Illusionist YT (479K YT Subs)
  • Gaming With Zihad (698K YT Subs)

Nepal 

  • Sooneeta (3.26 Million YT Subs)
  • Bshow Mgr (399K YT Subs)
  • Tonde Gamer (2.37 Million YT Subs)

Pakistan

  • RKG ARMY (1.77 Million YT Subs)
  • Unusual Gamer (81K YT Subs)
  • The Skinzo FF (75.5K YT Subs)

Broadcast Details:

Fans can witness all the high-octane action by tuning in to the live broadcasts of the Free Fire South Asia Showdown: Battle of the Stars. These will be hosted on Free Fire Esports India YouTube and Facebook, Free Fire Bangladesh Official YouTube and Facebook, as well as on BOOYAH!. 

To cater to the diverse South Asian community, the matches will be streamed with live commentary in 5 languages – Bengali, English, Hindi, Nepali and Urdu.

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