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Startups to Stalwarts at praise for ‘Excellent Budget’

Infra, technology, EVs Education get big boost, but healthcare as industry neglected, say bizmen.

Gagandeep Singh Gandhi, Director & Co-Founder of Integre Solutions Private Limited (IT Services company): Clearly, the government wants to make the most of the global momentum in India’s favour to meet its 5 trillion $ mark. Whether it is capital creation, digital, fintech, AI, 5G, UPI, the government wants to increase the pace of development. This is a superstar budget.

Sanjeev Singh CEO & MD - CMS IT Services: The infra and capex push of the budget combined with a focus on creating a tech and knowledge-driven ecosystem will accelerate India’s journey to becoming a $ 5 trillion economy. This will also generate tremendous opportunities for the tech industry in multiple advanced domains like 5G, AI, digital, agri-tech & fintech.

Dr. Ajit Parulekar,Director of Goa Institute of Management: There might not be anything specific for B-school education in India but one highlight for me was the talk of the National Data Governance framework. Through this framework, it will allow us to get access to a lot of non-personal, anonymous data. Research-intensive institutions will benefit greatly from this because one of the biggest hurdles one needs to overcome during the conducting of research is the lack of data. Other than that, we at GIM, ensure that we contribute substantially towards a green planet so it is heartening to see that the outlay for energy transformation is sizeable and the Government's support towards battery storage.

Also specific to our healthcare management programme, it is no secret that sickle cell anemia has been a challenge in the country. In the past the government has done a lot of work toward combatting tuberculosis in the country and now, they have announced a mission to eliminate sickle cell anemia. They plan on doing a screening of more than 7 crore patients.

After a long time, there have been revisions in the tax regime. Under the new regime, there is a sizable up for the taxpayers. There continues to be a focus on infrastructure. This year we have the highest-ever budget for railways and the government is also looking at ramping up air infrastructure.

The only disappointment is that even though there is an increase in the budget for healthcare and education. It is marginal. We've been talking about increasing the healthcare budget to 4% for a long time and it's still at 2.1%. The education budget was 2.8% and it was 2.9%. It's very low for a country that aims to grow fast. We are underspending on healthcare and education by a very large margin.

Muragan Vasudevan, CEO, Veddis Foundation: We are glad to see a forward-looking Union Budget that has included a package aimed at improving the quality, scale, and reach of MSME products. The focus on green energy, green farming, and green buildings have the opportunity to create a new market and a lot of new jobs - which is critical as India taps into the availability of skilled youth. The Budget has also promised advanced skill training for women and the economically weaker sections of society. This Budget has struck the right chords with the intention to leave no one behind. Looking forward to seeing many of these programs being executed to their fullest potential and realising the outcomes they intend to achieve.

Deval Sanghavi, Partner and Co-Founder, Dasra: Budget 2023-24's focus on vulnerable communities such as the development mission dedicated to Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG), scaling of Eklavya Model Residential schools and the proposed collaboration with NGOs in the literacy space is encouraging. We hope that there will be more opportunities for NGOs to collaborate in achieving the national vision for inclusive development in other areas, such as the integration of traditional artisans and craftspeople into the MSME value chain while upskilling these communities in digital and green technologies.

Dhuwarakha Sriram, Chief of Generation Unlimited (YuWaah) and Youth Development and Partnerships at UNICEF:We are glad that the priorities in the Union Budget 2023 feature Youth Power. The introduction of the National Digital Library for children and adolescents, provisions for teacher training, on-the-job skill training, apprenticeships, and the creation of 30 Skill India International Centres will help promote access to knowledge. The Government’s recognition of the post-pandemic learning loss is a welcome move. Emphasis on skill development with AR/VR applications will help young people prepare for the future of work and enable them with relevant soft skills. The digital and physical infrastructure, particularly for the most marginalised young people in the hinterland, will help build higher student engagement and interest, and make learning an easy process.

Rajit Mehta, MD and CEO, Antara Senior Care: "We are delighted that the Union Budget 2023 puts a greater emphasis on seniors' changing needs. The initiative to maximise the deposit level from ₹15 lakh to ₹30 lakh in Senior Citizens' Saving Scheme (SCSS) was a much-awaited move. This will allow senior citizens to secure their retirement and build a better lifestyle. We are glad the Government is proactively looking at measures to create a conducive and enabling ecosystem for seniors. Budget 2023 focuses on inclusivity and sustainable economic development. We've also seen some interesting initiatives such as the increased efforts in last mile connectivity, women's economic empowerment, tribal communities, green growth, etc. aimed at building an empowered and inclusive economy.

Lt. Gen. (Dr.) M. D. Venkatesh, Vice Chancellor, MAHE Manipal: We welcome the Union Budget announced by the Finance Minister. The emphasis on education and employment is progressive. Also, to ensure that India's workforce is future-ready, new age courses like coding, artificial intelligence, robotics, mechatronics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing drones etc. coupled with soft skills; will help improve the overall employability of students. Since the pandemic, the education ecosystem has seen major transformation, and now with the introduction of 30 Skill India international centers, education will further witness the much need skilling integration that was required. The government's focus on skill development and preparing students for the future is also evident through the initiative to open 100 labs in engineering institutes for building 5G service capabilities and augmenting the digital infrastructure for medical sciences; among other similar initiatives. The budget also addresses education from a more holistic perspective, by introducing innovative pedagogies and advanced training & research measures for teachers.”

Kartik Narayan, Chief Executive Officer, TeamLease Services: The budget recognizes the favourable trends in the economy and outlines measures to maintain this progress, such as the formalization of the workforce and rise in start-up numbers. It addresses both inflation and unemployment through initiatives like skill development, increased infrastructure investment, and boosting disposable income for the middle class.The key steps outlined will help combat the dual challenges of inflation and unemployment, be it by bolstering skilling initiatives to unlock the demographic dividend, or growing the investment in infrastructure to create jobs, or putting more disposable income in the hands of the middle class. Overall, it's a balanced budget that supports long-term growth while addressing short-term challenges.

Mayur Taday, Chief Business Officer, TeamLease Services: FY23-24  is a good balance between growth and fiscal prudence. What stands out is the high emphasis on digitization and green economy. This budget aims at creating jobs for the youth, giving more money in the hands of low income groups, salaried class and pensioners; thereby driving consumption and demand especially in rural India. Some of the key reforms that will aid employment generation include - increased capital expenditure outlay to Rs 10L Cr for infrastructural development, launch of 50 tourism centers and 03 artificial intelligence centers, 10000 bio input resource centers, tax benefits to startups being extended till March 2024; amongst other initiatives. For the BFSI sector specifically, it would be interesting to see the amendments being introduced to the Banking Regulation Act, The Banking Companies Act and The Reserve Bank Of India Act, and the impact it will have on the economy. Additionally, the refined KYC process will boost the digital public infrastructure and aid FinTechs and the financial sector tremendously. The budget has not only addressed jobs but also taken imperative steps towards augmenting skills of the youth through the various education and skilling focused reforms launched.

Kartik Narayan, Chief Executive Officer, TeamLease Services: The budget recognizes the favorable trends in the economy and outlines measures to maintain this progress, such as the formalization of the workforce and rise in start-up numbers. It addresses both inflation and unemployment through initiatives like skill development, increased infrastructure investment, and boosting disposable income for the middle class.The key steps outlined will help combat the dual challenges of inflation and unemployment, be it by bolstering skilling initiatives to unlock the demographic dividend, or growing the investment in infrastructure to create jobs, or putting more disposable income in the hands of the middle class. Overall, it's a balanced budget that supports long-term growth while addressing short-term challenges.”

Ajoy Thomas, Business Head and Vice President, TeamLease Services: The establishment of 100 transportation infrastructure projects and the provision of a capital outlay of 2.40 lakh crores for railways, which is approximately nine times the outlay made in 2013-14, are both welcome moves because these initiatives will create a large number of job opportunities for both skilled and unskilled labour in the industry. However, the government should consider incentivizing logistics players who want to use artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, automation, and big data, which will not only help the logistics and infrastructure industry to get future ready but will also increase the scope of innovations and research in the field. Additionally, we had expect this budget to focus on lowering the costs for the logistics industry, especially by implementing the National Logistics Policy that was launched in 2022. Also from the tax point of view, investments in infrastructure and technology, for example tax breaks, would have made operations more efficient and reduce costs, thus creating more employment.

Ramana Prasad, the Chairman of AIWS and Robotix India and USA:  The budget was a great one for the education industry and a focused effort of the Government to align education with future-readiness. An important aspect to make the younger generation become Future Ready is the creation of Centers of Excellence for AI. Three Artificial Intelligence Centers of Excellence will be established in renowned educational institutions in planned now and we expect more of them in future. As an educationist, it is highly encouraging to see the budget’s focus. The establishment of District Training Centres for educators will revolutionise both public and private school education across India. Setting up National Digital Library and Physical Libraries at ward and panchayat levels is like a dream come true. National Book Trust has been entrusted with developing a reading culture by publishing content in several regional languages.

This budget will ensure the implementation of NEP at the micro-level. At the same time, we expected some measures to support nation-building private school education. Overall with these announcements, we have entered Amrit Kaal in the true sense and spirit. He also cited that this is a great budget for bridging the gap between Education and Employment.

Deepak Anand, Co-founder & CEO, Housr (co-livinmg start-up): The real estate sector has always been a crucial component of annual budgets, and in recent years the co-living segment has risen to prominence within it. This segment, which addresses the evolving housing needs of young working professionals, has gained significant traction in a short span. The recent revision of income tax slabs and introduction of tax benefits is welcome news for the industry, providing much-needed relief for young professionals just starting their careers. This timely announcement is poised to drive growth in the sector.

Vipul Singh, Co-Founder and CEO, Aereo (formerly Aarav Unmanned Systems): The Union Budget truly echoes India's ambition towards "Digital India" by delivering new-age courses for industry 4.0.  Courses in coding, AI, robotics, and drones will enable new-age skill-building for India’s youth. This will open up a wide array of opportunities for them, especially in the rapidly expanding drone industry. The government’s focus on progressing technology and R&D through improving human capital is a step in the right direction. Upskilling the youth is critical to developing a robust drone infrastructure across the country.

Currently, the demand for technically proficient workforce in the country is at an all time high. With the increasing number of drone startups, this initiative towards including technology-focused curriculum will help lay the foundations to fulfill this demand. Another major boost to the startup ecosystem in the country is lowering capital gains taxation and allowing startups to carry forward losses on changes in shareholding from 7 to 10 years after incorporation. The setting up of Agriculture Accelerator Fund will propel agri-tech start-ups, which drones are an active part of, and develop innovative and affordable solutions from the vast majority of rural India.

Neha Singh, Co-founder, Tracxn: India has evolved to be the third-largest startup ecosystem globally and is one of the leading countries in terms of funding among middle-income countries. The Indian government has been actively working to support the growth of startups in the country. It all began in 2016 with the introduction of "Startup India," which was followed by numerous other initiatives of a similar nature, including the Fund of Funds for Startups (FFS), the Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS), the Credit Guarantee Scheme for Startups (CGSS), etc. By streamlining procedures and regulations, these initiatives made it easier to do business and to access financing.

Multiple helpful policies have been implemented into the current budget to support the nation's startup ecosystem in light of the continuing inflation and funding slowdown. One of the key points announced by the finance minister is the extension of the date of incorporation for income tax benefits to start-ups from FY23 to FY24. In addition, the government has stated that startups will be able to carry forward their losses for up to 10 years. To accelerate the development of AgriTech firms, an agriculture accelerator fund will be established. The creation of a national data governance policy will make anonymized data available for a range of applications, creating a plethora of business opportunities.

Vikash Chandra, COO, Cutshort (tech hiring playform): The government's plan to establish three centres of excellence for AI is a major step forward for the industry. This initiative will not only foster an environment for innovation, but also ensure that India is leading the next wave of technology revolution. As a startup in the AI space, we're thrilled to see such proactive measures being taken and can't wait to be a part of this exciting journey. #AIforIndia #AIleadership #StartupEcosystem

We fully support the introduction of a national data governance policy with access to anonymized data by the government. This move will bring many benefits to individuals, organizations and the overall economy. By protecting the privacy of individuals and reducing the risk of data breaches, this policy will increase consumer trust and confidence in the handling of their personal information. Additionally, access to anonymized data will encourage data sharing, fostering innovation and progress in various fields. Furthermore, a national data governance policy will ensure Data governance policies aid organizations in meeting data privacy regulations, like GDPR in Europe and CCPA in the US, providing a fair environment for companies like Cutshort who abide by these policies in unregulated surroundings. Overall, this policy will bring about positive and much-needed changes to the way data is handled and managed."

The recent budget in India has simplified business regulations, reducing 39,000 compliances and decriminalizing over 3,400 legal provisions. This is a positive step for the startup ecosystem, reducing administrative burden and legal risks. Startups can now focus more on their core business and innovation, leading to growth and development. A simpler business environment also makes India more attractive to entrepreneurs. Overall, the changes in the budget are expected to have a positive impact on the startup ecosystem in India.

Navneet Ravikar, Chairman & Managing Director, Leads Connect Services: The budget marks a major milestone in the growth of the agritech sector. With its emphasis on a tech-driven and knowledge-based path, the budget provides a strong lift to startups in the space. The clear focus on technology gives us the strength to carry our work forward on crop yield estimation and loss assessment using drones, spacetech, and mobile interfaces.

The allocation of funds through an accelerator and the three Centres of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence plays a crucial and transformative role. The fund provides the impetus for young entrepreneurs to bring much-needed innovation to rural areas. Meanwhile, the Make AI in India and Make AI Work for India centres will lend themselves to cutting-edge research that improves agricultural practices, efficiency, and scalability.

We have started setting up the Leads Aerospace division with the manufacturing of next-generation drones, IoT, and microsatellites, along with an AI and advanced data analytics lab as the focal point. We also appreciate the ease with which farmers in the dairy value chain and fisheries can obtain credit. However, taking a cue from this, agri-fintechs and the government should jointly work on increasing awareness among the farming community.

Aneesh Jain, Founder, Gram Unnati: The budget is a game changer for the agriculture sector in India. The government has taken bold steps in digitising the sector with the creation of an open-source digital public infrastructure and accelerator fund. The push for a green plant programme hits the nail on the head for boosting productivity and profitability, and the increase in credit will provide much-needed financial support to the industry.

The plan for decentralised storage capacity will empower farmers to store their produce and receive fair prices. Overall, this budget will play a crucial role in modernising and revitalising the agriculture sector in India, bringing economic growth to rural areas.

Anand Nichani, MD of Magngniflex India: The Union Budget for 2023 -24 is a balanced budget, and it will be a driving force behind India’s long-term growth trajectory. The decrease in fiscal deficit augurs well for the Indian Economy. The economy is expected to grow at a rate of 6.5%, which is good news for the retail sector. The additional thrust on investments towards infrastructure development will have a multiplier effect giving boost to employment opportunities thereby creating more funds for the customers. While there are no major reforms or changes for the business class, an increase in the personal income tax rebate limit for the salaried class is a welcome sign for the Corporates as they offer more purchasing power in the hands of the customer.

Puneet Dalmia, Managing Director, Dalmia Bharat Ltd: The Union Budget 2023 is the providential threshold for creating the India of the Amrit kaal. As eloquently portrayed by the Finance Minister as the “Saptrishi” or 7 priorities, the Budget has created a very purposeful direction and vehicles to capture India’s rightful place amongst the 'Top 3' major economies of the world.

Sujata Pawar, Co-Founder & CEO at Avni-  A Feminine Hygiene and Menstrual Healthcare Startup: We applaud the initiatives declared in the Union Budget 2023-24 by Honorable Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The budget strikes an appropriate balance between confronting the key foundations of Health & Well-being, Inclusive Development, Human Capital, Innovation, and R&D, as well as laying the groundwork for a prosperous economy by investing heavily in infrastructure. The government’s intention to empower women entrepreneurs through self-help clusters focused on raw material supply, product branding, and marketing is also a very unique and sensible step given that community impact plays a major role with women in India. Furthermore, the announcement of 157 new nursing colleges will further aid strengthen India’s primary healthcare system.

Anurag Mathur, CEO, Savills India: The 2023 Union Budget is a testament to the government's commitment to inclusive growth, with a focus on strengthening the country's infrastructure, empowering the rural sector, and driving innovation for a better tomorrow. Although the real estate sector did not feature prominently in the budget, derived benefits are likely to give further boost to the sector especially in these times of a ‘Robust Growth Phase’ post the pandemic affected years of 2020 and 2021.

 A steep rise in Capex to 3.3% of GDP continues to be the guiding force of the budget, providing a strong impetus to infrastructure and allied sectors. Commercial real estate and manufacturing sector will get derived benefits with focus on green technologies in automotive sector. Furthermore, with an annual allotment of INR 10,000 cr towards Urban Infrastructure Development Fund, real estate growth in Tier II and III cities of the country is expected to pick up significant pace. In our recent discourses and publications, we have repeatedly highlighted India’s need for creating a large pool of urban centres. Simialrly, Life sciences sector, which is a key to India’s future economic growth, stands to benefit from a new program for pharmaceuticals, as research gains greater attention. The Budget has also focused on the development of GIFT City which will boost the growth of the financial sector, creating job opportunities and promoting economic development.

Direct real estate announcements, although scant this time, included enhanced allocation to the PM Awas Yojana. With a 66% increase in allocation, the total fund outlay touches INR 79,000 cr. The much-awaited direct tax benefits and changes to the income tax slabs are likely to put more money in the hands of middle-class households, positively impacting spending capacity and savings. This should bode well for the residential segment, especially affordable housing.

Abhay Batra, Co- Founder & CFO, Clovia (D2C fashion, lingerie and personal care brand): Budget 2023 is a positive and balanced budget with a strong focus on a prosperous and inclusive India. It is encouraging to see that key pillars of growth include skilling and job creation, opportunities and reduction of compliance burden for small entrepreneurs, and the empowerment of women entrepreneurs. This is consistent with our expectations of including incentives to enable the empowerment of women entrepreneurs in tiers 2, 3, and 4.

Reduced tax burden for small entrepreneurs will mean reduced supply-chain costs and hence more competitive markets. This will help Clovia's initiatives from day 1 of its existence of incubating small and medium manufacturer entrepreneurs to build their technical expertise, develop products and create sustainable revenue streams for themselves. Reduced individual tax burden will mean higher disposable income; this is a welcome step for the retail industry as a whole. Steps like carry forward of losses for start-ups in case of shareholding, extension of date of incorporation amongst other steps is a step forward for the start-up ecosystem.

b: India has taken rapid strides towards digitalization in recent times and the budget has sought to add pace to the trend. The skill development scheme to cover new-age courses such as coding, AI, robotics, IoT, 3D printing, etc. for Industry 4.0 has been expanded. Setting up 5G labs and three Centre of Excellence for AI, will give a boost to research and innovation in realizing the vision of Make AI in India and Make AI work for India. Public Digital Infrastructure will take open innovation to next level and accelerate tech adoption. All these initiatives will help in making Indian enterprises, especially MSMEs, more competitive. Startups and entrepreneurship are other areas that have received increased attention from the FM. On the whole, it is a very forward looking budget that will promote inclusive growth of industries.

Rajiv Bhatia, Country Head and President , Analytix Solutions: The Finance Minister has delivered a finely balanced budget. There are multiple announcements that will allow the country to benefit from the demographic dividend. There is a clear focus on education, skilling, digitalisation, research, and innovation. The Centres of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence in top educational institutes will help in developing an effective AI ecosystem. The setting up of 100 labs to develop applications using 5G services will help realise new opportunities. The budget also supports the startup ecosystem which will encourage more youngsters to turn entrepreneurs. The boost to the digital payments ecosystem also augurs well for the economy.

Mihir Parikh, CEO, MP Financial Services: The budget is truly a people’s budget with benefits for everyone. It reflects the government’s vision to spur the country’s march as a leading global economy by the year 2047. The budget gives an impetus to infrastructure development, technology, rural economy, as well as financial services. It also gives an impetus to the digital payment ecosystem. The budget has enhanced the maximum deposit limit for senior citizen savings scheme from Rs. 15 lakh to Rs. 30 lakh. The change in the personal income tax slabs and revising the tax exemption limit to Rs. 3 lakh under the new tax regime, and increasing the income limit for rebate from Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 7 lakh, will leave more money in the hands of people. This will give a push to consumption and spur the economy.  Increased allocation in infrastructure spending as well as in railways will have a multiplier effect on job creation as well connectivity.

Mihir Joshi, CEO, GVFL: The budget supports innovation and entrepreneurship, the key growth drivers of the economy. Extending the tax holiday policy by a year and the benefit of carrying forward losses on change of shareholding of startups to 10 years of incorporation from the current seven years is welcome. The focus on bringing more youth into entrepreneurship will spur the economy. Setting up three Centres of Excellence in AI and 100 labs for developing applications using 5G services will enhance the innovation capacity, fuel deep-tech startups, and help find scalable solutions for many problems.

Kamal Bansal, MD, GVFL: The Finance Minister has achieved a financial balance between increasing capital expenditure and reducing the fiscal deficit from 6.4% to 5.9%. The budget will make the economy more resilient. It also lays out the vision for the next 25 years and focuses on giving ample opportunities to the youth. The National Data Governance Policy will unleash innovation and research by startups and academia. The Agriculture Accelerator Fund will encourage agri startups by young entrepreneurs in rural areas and help in modernising agriculture. The extension of the date of incorporation for income tax benefits to startups by a year will give a boost to the startup ecosystem.

Bharat Patel, Chairman and Director at Yudiz Solutions Ltd: The FM has presented a budget that will give impetus to growth and development. Setting up three Centres of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence in top educational institutions will galvanise an effective AI ecosystem and nurture quality human resources. The setting of 100 labs for developing applications using 5G services will help realise new opportunities, business models, and employment potential. The expansion of the digital ecosystem for skilling with a Skill India Digital platform will enable demand-based formal skilling and facilitate access to entrepreneurship schemes. The boost to the startup ecosystem will spur entrepreneurship and contribute to economic development.

Vinit Garg, Founder & CEO, Mylo (Platform for expecting & new mothers) :Measures such as the extension of the tax benefit eligibility to startups incorporated before April 1, 2024, show a commitment to creating a more favorable environment for startups, enabling us to take bigger risks, innovate, and contribute to the economic development of the country. The government's commitment to creating a supportive environment for startups is crucial in establishing India as a global hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Shekar Sivasubramanian, CEO, Wadhwani AI: The Government of India is embracing AI technology to bring about positive change and improving the lives and livelihoods of farmers nationwide through public-private partnerships, extension services, and market linkages. The use of AI and other digital technologies will play a key role in bringing about sustainable growth and greater prosperity for all in the agriculture sector and other sections of the population.

Shivaji Waghmare, CEO, Fuji Electric India Pvt Ltd: I think Budget 2023 is growth-oriented and it strikes a balance between economic growth and social welfare. It is great news that the budget has provided Rs 35,000 crores priority capital investment towards energy transition and net zero objectives, and energy security. We appreciate the move to extend customs duty exemption to the import of capital goods and machinery required for manufacturing of lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells for batteries used in EVs. This would reduce the production cost and lower the cost of EVs. Manufacturing credit guarantee scheme for MSME is another laudable step. Youth have to be skilled to compete in Industry 4.0 and a lot of measures are being taken to make Indian youth market-ready. More skilling centres would mean more technicians who are very important for industries like us. Reducing the cost of compliances will help reduce the overall cost for the businesses which is a welcome thing. India is going all out to embrace digitalization and also ensure that every segment of its population is taken along in its run towards realising its dream.  The increased spends India Railways is a welcome step. I am glad that consumption is being promoted and economy is being revived.

Manoj Tulsian, Joint Managing Director & CEO, Greenply Industries Ltd: The announcement of a targeted push in the green growth sector in the Union Budget of 2023–24 is a significant step in India's journey toward rapidly developing sustainable, low-emission products. This initiative is likely to generate substantial economic opportunities for decarbonization and sustainable product growth. With Greenply's approach to sustainability, we have already launched an internal initiative called "ESG 360" with a three-year plan for integrating ESG factors into our strategy and daily operations. Greenply's E-0 product line, investment in research and development, and advanced toxicology studies have pioneered a shift toward environmental sustainability in the wood panel industry.

It is noteworthy that the Green Credit Programme under the Environment (Protection) Act will undoubtedly encourage more large companies to invest in the research of greener product variants by incentivizing not only corporate but also individual sustainable and responsive actions.

Additionally, the increase in capital expenditure by 33 percent to Rs 10 lakh crore in public infrastructure will be a positive boost for the entire building and construction industry. The focus on urban infrastructure will have a significant impact on the real estate sector and will push the growth trajectory in the wood panel sector.

Lalit Beriwala, Director, Shyam Steel Industries Ltd . and Sr. Vice President , Merchants Chamber of Commerce & Industry: I welcome the Union Budget , 2023, that is both balanced and target driven . With increased emphasis on education, health, infrastructure development, employment generation in both rural and urban areas, skill development besides promotion of digital economy through “Make AI in India” aiming to set up three specialized  AI Centres in educational institutes  enlisting private participation , National Data Governance Policy etc. , green growth , strengthening railway  connectivity , the Union Budget, 2023-24  will ensure  inclusive growth  through Saptarshi-7 priorities.

I strongly believe that the increased Capital investment outlay  by 33.4% to 10 lakh crore, the highest ever outlay of Rs. 2.4 lakh crore for the Railways , identification of 100 infrastructure projects  for end-to-end connectivity for ports ,coal, steel, fertilizer sectors will  give fillip to the  industrial development of the country . Besides,  continuation of the provision for 50-year Interest Free Loans to States to be spent on capital expenditures , focus being on infrastructures, is expected to be a  game changer in the whole infrastructure development sector to the benefit not only of  the steel industry alone but also the industry across sectors as a whole.         

Moreover, simplifying tax benefits for industry in terms of enhanced limits for micro enterprises and professionals to avail benefits of presumptive taxation as well as provision for allowing deduction of payments made to MSMEs only when payment is made, and benefits provided for the start-ups will accelerate country’s economic growth.

In fine, it’s a people-centric budget for the improvement of the quality of life of all sections of the people. We wholeheartedly  appreciate this Union Budget, 2023-24.

Amit Veer, Founder & CEO, Coffeee.io: In Union Budget 2023, the government's 'Amrit Kaal' vision for a technology-driven and knowledge-based economy emphasizes on creating employment opportunities and strengthening India's inclusive economic growth. This vision will encourage the adoption of the "Skill India Digital Platform" program among the youth, with a focus on digital training and demand-based formal skilling for job seekers. Given that the country is currently witnessing mass layoffs, especially in the IT sector, the launch of employment schemes such as 'Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana' and 'Youth Power' programme that focus on upskilling, new-age courses and on-the-job training will further facilitate job creation at a larger scale. Thus, this will further empower us as a technology-enabled recruitment platform to provide the right kind of job opportunities with the right kind of skill sets.

Additionally, it is great to see that the government continues to prioritise the development of digital infrastructure and technological innovation. Initiatives such as "Centers of Excellence for AI" to empower "Make AI for India", will definitely aid in bridging the demand-supply for jobs that require new-age and complex technology-driven prerequisites.

Dr Silpi Sahoo, Chairperson, SAI International Education Group for Education Sector: The Union Budget of 2023 has been a major step forward in terms of educational reforms in India & escalating the country onto a world class educational hub.

1.The government has allocated a substantial funding of 1,12,898 crore for the Ministry of Education, the highest ever allocation towards the education sector. Allocation for school education has increased by 8 percent from Rs 63,449 crore (Budget Estimate) in 2022-23 to Rs 68,804 crore in 2023-24. Further, higher education has received Rs 44,094 crore in 2023-24, an increase of 7.9 percent from Rs 40,828 crore (Budget Estimate) in 2022-23. The NEP is based on five essential pillars, Access, Affordability, Equity, Quality and Accountability. A greater inflow of money into the education sector will contributing towards strengthening all five of these fundamentals.

2.Contributions towards the expansion & improvement of school infrastructure, increasing the quality of higher education, increasing access to technology, and expanding research and innovation. It is only with better digital infrastructure & quality education,  that can improve the accessibility to skill development across India, especially in lower-tier cities and rural areas.

3.The budget has promptly addressed the gender gap in access to education with setting aside about 5% of the total expenditure allocated towards issues affecting women in the gender budget, providing equitable access to education for girls. It not only brings the importance of equality in education to the forefront but seeks to make it a reality. When children of both sexes and all sections of the society get education under a single roof, achieving equity in education takes the shape of being real.

4.With one of the prominent focuses this year being job creation for youth in India (Amrit Kal) to foster entrepreneurship, the budget also provides for a massive expansion of scholarships and fellowships through centres of excellence, as well as funding for teacher training & development & introduction of digital libraries. To spur a culture of entrepreneurship & innovation among the youth, maximizing their placement success rates through quality student-centric experiential learning. Teachers’ training re-envisioned through innovative pedagogy, to upskill teachers & address the learning gap in a technology driven education ecosystem.

5. Bringing forth a framework of constant upskilling via Mission Karma Yogi and increasing digitalisation as the new age learning form, impetus has been paid to financial literacy & multidisciplinary learning for medical tech. This will ensure the availability of skilled manpower for futuristic medical technologies and research

6.The National Book Trust to further inculcate the habit of reading is a promising endeavour this year. To build a culture of reading & facilitate the availability of quality books across geographies, languages, genres and levels and device-agnostic accessibility

Overall, Budget 2023 has made some great strides to uplift the educational system of the country.

Sumit Garg, Co-founder and MD of Luxury Ride: The policies chalked out for the automobile industry incurring increased duty rate is very unlikely to have any impact on the entry-level luxury vehicle segment. The condition of levying duty on engines with more than 3000cc petrol capacity will have a nullifying effect on the luxury cars as there are meagrely any cars in India exceeding the 3000cc capacity. Furthermore, the vehicle scrapping policy is an appreciative step on the part of the government. It comes as a silver lining that not just serves the novel cause of ushering towards a greener planet but at the same time, it will give an impetus to the surging demand for cars.

Dhananjaya Bharadwaj, Co-founder and CEO, ParkMate: The Budget 23-24 addressed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman reinforces the excellence of the Budget introduced last year. The Union budget correctly emphasised the need for a greater accentuation on innovation, research, and development, which are vital to India’s ambitious goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy. A special proposal to establish three AI centres will motivate entrepreneurs aiming to launch AI startups. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that the planned infrastructure target is aligned with broader environmental and social goals. Like the rest of the startup community, we fully embrace the Budget 2023.

Ruchir Arora, CEO & Co-Founder, CollegeDekho: The Budget of 2023-24 brings some positive news for the education sector. We welcome the government’s massive push to accelerate the education sector with an allocation of ₹1,12,898.97 crore, which is the highest-ever allocation of funds granted to this sector. The establishment of 157 new nursing colleges and the introduction of new programmes in training in medical equipment are significant steps in bridging the skill gap in the medical and pharma sector and we expect demand for more such courses in the coming future. The government’s announcement for Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0 is aligned with the Industrial Revolution 4.0 with a major focus on advanced technology, research and innovation-based education. This includes the establishment of 30 Skill India International Centers, offering cutting-edge programs in fields such as coding, AI, IOT, mechatronics, drones, and the enhancement of various soft skills. Also, the numerous infrastructural developments, green growth and financial initiatives proposed in the budget will see an increase in employment opportunities in these sectors. We feel this opens up multiple new career opportunities for students and pursuing courses like BSc in either Agriculture or Forestry, Chartered Accountancy and Master in Integral Logistics to name a few might be plausible. On the whole, the budget is progressive and concentrates on enhancing the skill development of Indian youth which will further propel their employability and lead to overall economic growth.

Kamalika Bhattacharya, CEO and Co-founder, QuoDeck: The increase of 33% in the capital expenditure in this year's Union Budget will boost infrastructure development in the country, which ultimately leads to long-term job creation. Particularly in the light of what many say is an approaching global recession, this kind of cushion is extremely important to sustain employment in the country. It’s also a good thing that the government is continuing its focus on skilling and on-job training, particularly in new-age areas such as AI, robotics, drones and soft skills.

Tarun Joshi, CEO & Founder, Join Ventures and IGP.com: We have always believed in the significance of traditional artisans and craftspeople in keeping our rich cultural heritage alive and provided them with a global platform to earn from their craft. We are thrilled to see the government's recognition of India's valued artisans and craftspeople through the PM Vishwa Karma Kaushal Samman initiative, which will not only improve the quality, scale, and reach of their products but also integrate them with the MSME value chain. This is a proud moment for all of us who have been working towards preserving and promoting the timeless beauty of traditional Indian crafts.

Saurabh Pandey, Co-founder and CEO of Eloelo: The measures announced in the budget to simplify the personal income tax structure and increase exemptions for the middle class will provide much-needed relief to salaried professionals. This will also allow startups to retain talented employees by providing competitive salaries and benefits.

We’re happy that the country’s creator economy will get a boost due to the favourable policies by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. This year’s Union Budget has provided a relief in customs duty for the use of smartphone parts like camera lenses and batteries, and that will help keep smartphone prices down. A long-term focus on manufacturing smartphones in India will help in increasing digitisation of the country. We’re also happy that the country’s start-up ecosystem is getting a boost by the favourable policies on startup shareholding.

Vineet Singh, Co-founder & CEO, Castler: We are thrilled to see measures aimed at easing the compliance burden for businesses, PAN as a common business identifier, and promoting efficiency through integrated systems. The establishment of Digilocker as a one-stop solution for reconciliation and identity management further demonstrates the government's commitment to a digital-first approach. We look forward to leveraging these developments to enhance our services and support the growth of fintechs in India.

Vikas Garg, Co-founder & CEO, Paytail: The government's efforts to simplify the KYC process and adopt a risk-based approach will go a long way in streamlining the process for customers and fintech companies alike. We appreciate the focus on a digital-first approach and the use of technology to improve financial inclusion in India. The establishment of DigiLocker as a one-stop solution for reconciliation and identity management is a game-changer for the fintech industry. This will simplify the process and save time for customers while also enhancing the security of their personal information.

Sousthav Chakrabarty, Co-Founder & CEO. Siply: The Union budget announcements on personal income tax are a step towards financial inclusion and empowerment for India's hard-working middle class. By increasing rebate limits and reducing tax liabilities, the government is freeing up more funds for the citizens to invest and grow their wealth, ultimately driving economic growth and stability. We at Siply are thrilled to support and contribute to this vision of financial inclusion.

Haresh Awatramani, Founder & CEO, of Beehive HR Solution: In a significant relief to the common man, the Modi government made five major announcements in the personal income tax space in the Union Budget. The tax breaks are clearly aimed at the hardworking middle class. According to current income tax slabs, a salaried employee earning up to Rs 5 lakh does not have to pay income tax under either the old or new tax regimes. The new tax regime has reduced this rebate limit to Rs 7 lakh. A new personal tax regime with six income tax slabs beginning at Rs 2.5 lakh was implemented in 2020. It is now proposed to reduce the number of tax brackets to five and raise the tax exemption limit to Rs 3 lakh. Income between 12 and 15 L is taxed at 20% under the new regime. The standard deduction benefit is proposed to be extended to the new tax regime. Under the new tax regime, the highest surcharge rate on income above Rs 5 crore will be reduced from 37% to 25%. The final significant change in personal income tax is the increase in the leave encashment exemption limit for non-government salaried employees from Rs 3L to Rs 25L upon retirement.

This will put more money in the hands of individuals for investments. The additional liquidity will also help to improve the economic scenario by increasing overall spending power. The youth have been given a considerable impetus to make strategic investments, and insurance will also significantly boost. The money saved by tax breaks is expected to be invested in health and life insurance. Overall, this budget has been very encouraging for Real Bharat.

Harini Ramachandran, Co-Creator of Excellence Installations Technology and Co-founder of Antano & Harini, Legacy Accelerators :The Union Budget 2023 is positively addressing the rural & economic weaker sections and also the aspirational businesses of India. Furthermore, empowering women entrepreneurs, especially through skill development and through investments in branding & marketing is a favorable move, meant to promote niche and driven businesses in India.

As the government continues to invest on mental health and skill development, I believe it’s also time that we prioritize Capability Building for India’s burgeoning entrepreneurs and workforce. Capabilities like to be able to model and learn from the geniuses around, to disassociate and bring creative, out-of-the-box ideas, capabilities of emotional resilience and mastery. Because capabilities are for life and naturally grows and evolves the current capacity an individual has to accelerate their success, launch a unique legacy, and create B!G Impact in the world.

My hope after this year’s budget announcement is that the people will leverage the increased tax exemption and ease of compliance to invest in themselves, in building superior capabilities of world leaders that will enable them, furthermore, to create a big impact in the world.

R. Udayan Lahiry, Co-founder & Managing Director, Medica Group of Hospitals Pvt Ltd: We welcome the Government's emphasis on establishing new nursing colleges, as this will improve the nurse-patient ratio and be a positive step toward Universal Health Coverage. Furthermore, making medical research facilities in select ICMR Labs available for research by public and private medical colleges, as well as by the private sector R&D teams for collaborative research and innovation is also a welcome step towards the growth and development of the Indian healthcare sector. It is also encouraging for healthcare service providers to know that the Government has emphasized strengthening the multidisciplinary courses for medical devices in existing institutions since we feel that this will secure the supply of skilled manpower of the future to drive technological advancements in the healthcare sector. Also, the renewed focus of the Government to eliminate Sickle Cell Anemia by 2047 through collaborative efforts of central ministries and state governments is extremely relevant today as it coincides with our country’s firm motto of eliminating infectious diseases like lymphatic filariasis by 2027,.tuberculosis by 2025 and Kala Azar by this year itself. Overall, the union budget has captured a lot of pertinent areas of the healthcare sector and it would have been even more beneficial for the sector if the government would have addressed the mechanism to avail GST input credit.

Anil Tyagi, Founder, Chairman & Managing Director, Nuberg Engineering Ltd ; The Finance Minister has presented a visionary budget with a key priority on Infrastructure & Investment and Green Growth, and I will rate the budget as 9 on 10.

The vision for a technology-driven and knowledge-based economy, with strong public finances and a robust financial sector in ‘Amrit Kaal’ is well thought out.

The focus on Capital outlay including the states is especially exemplary. The FM’s emphasis on Infrastructure development having a large multiplier impact on growth and employment is backed by an increase in capital investment by 33% to ₹10 lakh crore to 3.3% of GDP.

Reduction in customs duty on critical chemicals namely methanol, acetic acid, and heavy feedstocks for petroleum refining being reduced is double-edged. It will help the downstream industries while also showing the path forward for investment in these as the duties can be changed later as domestic capacity catches up as in the case of sodium cyanide for which adequate domestic capacity exists.

Implementation of programs for green fuel and energy will help in reducing the carbon intensity of the economy. The 19,700 crore outlay for the National Green Hydrogen Mission along with 35,000 crores for priority capital investments towards energy transition and net zero objectives, and energy security by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas will be transformational.

I congratulate Prime minister Modi and The Finance Minister for this excellent budget 2023.

Vaidyanathan V, CFO, Great Lakes Institute of Management: We welcome the measures announced by the Finance Minister in the Union Budget 2023.  Setting up of the National Digital Library for children and adolescents will up their knowledge and prepare them for competition at a global level. Emphasis on physical libraries at panchayat and ward levels will make knowledge accessible to children in rural areas and will also open doors for their development. We laud the government's efforts to come up with three centers of excellence for Artificial Intelligence which are to be set up in top educational institutions. The government's efforts to recruit more teachers for 740 Eklavya Model Residential Schools is appreciated. However, it is a disappointment that there were no specific announcements for the higher education sector.  Research in the higher education sector needs the government's support which in turn can act as a catalyst for India's growth. We hope the government opens channels for collaborative working with private institutions as well, to create global managers”, said Vaidyanathan V, CFO, Great Lakes Institute of Management.

Anshuman Singh, Chairman & Managing Director, Stellar Value Chain Solutions:The budget attempts to pave the way for a long-term and sustainable economic growth for the country. The expected economic growth is expected around 7% by maintaining macro-economic stability amid geopolitical developments and facilitating employment generation. New age technology adoption right down to the grassroot level, green energy transition along with infrastructure focus are some of the highlights of the budget.

Infrastructure is the foundation of any economic growth as it facilitates trade and commerce and the government's commitments towards this are clearly evident. This is the third consecutive year of the government’s investment in infrastructure. INR 10 lac crore has been earmarked which is up by 33%. The government is also offering interest free loans to states for infrastructure development. The proposal to develop transport infrastructure will develop critical linkages to facilitate multi-modal transportation, which is extremely critical.

Green initiatives coupled with EV infrastructure development working towards net zero emissions have a favourable impact on the logistics and supply chain industry as it helps the industry expand while still saving cost and most importantly keeping the environment green. The proposal to set up centres of excellence for artificial intelligence and introduce Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 4.0 will not only help the economy leverage the power of youth but also set the stage for a large-scale rollout of smart logistics equipped with data-driven technologies.

With all the infrastructure investment,  technology enablement initiatives, environment friendly focus and employment generation and consumption, India is poised for the next phase of growth in its endeavour to be a strong force to reckon with globally.

Anish Popli, CEO & Founder of ProcMart: We welcome this year's budget focus on Sustainable Developement Goals as India is moving forward firmly to net-zero carbon emission by 2070 to usher in green industrial and economic transition. This will strengthen our aim to extend end-to-end procurement services of Biomass Briquettes as a potential alternative sustainable energy source as many programmes for green fuel and energy along with policies will be implemented for the efficient use of energy across various economic sectors.

Also as a startup, we are happy with the budget reaffirming the government’s faith in startups as major drivers of the economy. India is now the third largest ecosystem for start-ups globally, and with initiatives like the extension of the date of incorporation to start-ups for tax benefits and providing the benefit of carrying forward losses on change of shareholding from seven years of incorporation to ten years, it will encourage the startups to grow in the economy. The MSME sector will also benefit from the government's initiative towards Credit Guarantee Scheme which would further boost the economy and accelerate growth.

We also applaud the government's focus on investments in digital infrastructure such as realizing the vision of “Make AI in India and Make AI work for India” and setting up three centres of excellence for Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will definitely dominate the logistics and supply chain industry – which will streamline and make logistics more agile, and active in the near future.

Dr. Suresh Surana, Founder, RSM India: The Union Budget 2023 is a dream budget with focus on investment and infrastructure, digital initiatives, fiscal consolidation, stability of corporate tax regime and major simplification of personal tax regime. There is a massive increase in investment outlay, thrust on agro based activities, tourism, fintech and education. The measures to improve ease of doing business, expeditious returns processing and appellate proceedings and increase in limits for presumptive tax for small businesses and professionals will improve the tax administration greatly. The personal tax regime has been revamped and new regime provides for higher basic exemption, reduction in number of tax slabs from 7 to 6 in a symmetrical manner, higher rebate and lowering of the highest tax rate from 42.74% to 39%. The widespread apprehension of enhancement of capital gains tax or new taxes to meet additional outlay has also been addressed with no changes in this respect. The corporate tax regime is already very attractive with effective tax rates of 25.17% and even a lower tax rate of 17.16% for new manufacturing companies. The possible areas for further improvement are the extension of period for commencement of manufacture for availing the lower tax rate and reduction of tax on dividends to a maximum of 20%.

Prateek Toshniwal, Startup/SAnhgel/PE Investor: The Union Budget for the fiscal year 2023-24 has redefined the country's capital investment landscape. Certainly, the new policies launched will revive the startup ecosystem in pan India. As per the finance minister, the revamped credit guarantee scheme will take effect from April 1, 2023, through the infusion of Rs 9,000 crore in the corpus. It will enable additional collateral-free credit of Rs 2 lakh crore to MSMEs. The mentioned policy will be a game-changer for small to medium-scale enterprises in the country. The economy is to grow at 7% in the current year, the highest among major economies. India is on the right track despite the time of challenges. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sticks to the advance estimate for current fiscal year growth of 7 %. Cap-ex's outlay increased by 33% to Rs 10 lakh crore for FY24. At this level, public cap-ex will be 3.3% of GDP. Equity indices are in the green so far. The Centre's cap-ex target for 2023-24 is 33 % higher than the budget estimate of INR 7.5 lakh crore for 2022-23. Also, It must be accentuated that the finance minister has proposed various diligent measures with a prominent focus on the 7 tenets of SAPTARISHI to be accomplished during Amrit Kaal, namely, Inclusive development, reaching the last mile, enhanced focus on infrastructure & investment, unleashing the potential of the financial industry, Green growth, Youth Power and the progress of Financial Sector. Overall, it is a great budget for capital investors and investment networks and will fortify the country's financial investment ecosystem.

Alok Mathur, Co-Founder, Digi2L:The multiple policies for "green growth" and "digital infrastructure "  expressed by the Finance Minister in the budget speech is a welcome announcement for the consumer durable industry. This would promote the adoption of greener technology products and help in recommerce of older products in a sustainable manner to create a positive impact on the environment. Companies  which have invested in building a digital infrastructure around this could get benefitted by the support from the government. Benefits announced for start -ups to carry forward losses from 7 years to 10 years is also an encouraging step towards atma nirbhar bharat. Alok Mathur

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