All things tech in Nirmala Sitharaman's budget speech

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All things tech in Nirmala Sitharaman's budget speech
Technology was a popular theme in this year’s Union Budget announced by India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. There were announcements of a digital university, India getting its first digital currency, an indigenous technology for railways and more. Almost all sectors have more or newer inclusion of technology in this year’s budget.

Here are the main areas where technology took a big role in the Union Budget 2022.
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Digital rupee

Digital rupee
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India is finally getting its digital currency, the ‘digital rupee’, and it is planned to be released by March 2023. The blockchain-based central bank digital currency (CBDC) will be issued by the Reserve Bank of India starting 2022-23. Sitharaman also announced a 30% tax on virtual assets which includes non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and cryptocurrencies.

Kisan Drones

Kisan Drones
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To boost the farming and agricultural sector in the country, Sitharaman announced new initiatives including the usage of drones. ‘Kisan Drones’ (kisan is farmer in Hindi) will be used for crop assessment, digitisation of land records, spraying of insecticides, and nutrients. She added that the government will also promote public-private partnerships (PPP) for the delivery of digital and high-tech services to farmers.

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E-passports

E-passports
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Another big announcement was the rollout of e-passports. Issuance of e-passports with embedded chips and futuristic technology will take place in 2022-23. The embedded chip on e-passports will contain all the personal information including the biographical details that are visible on page 2 of the passport. E-passports will also have a digital signature that is unique to each country and can be easily verified using a certificate.

Kavach for railways

Kavach for railways
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Sitharaman announced that 2,000 km of the rail network will be brought under Kavach, which is an “indigenous world-class technology” in 2022-23. This technology will be used for the safety and capacity augmentation of railways. The government also plans to develop and manufacture 400 new-generation Vande Bharat Trains with better energy efficiency and passenger riding experience during the next three years.

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5G rollout

5G rollout
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There is finally a confirmed timeline for 5G services in India. Sitharaman announced that 5G auctions will take place in 2022, and 5G services will be commercially rolled out in 2022-23. She added that a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme with focus on design-led manufacturing to help push 5G technology in the country will also be announced.

DESH-stack platform

DESH-stack platform
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A Digital Ecosystem for Skilling and Livelihood or DESH-Stack e-portal will be launched to help citizens skill, reskill or upskill through online training programmes. This DESH-Stack online portal will also offer “API-based trusted skill credentials, payment and discovery layers to find relevant jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.”

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Digital university

Digital university
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The Finance Minister also announced a digital university where students in India can get “world-class quality universal education with personalised learning experience at their doorsteps.” The digital university will offer courses in different Indian languages, and it will be built on a networked hub-spoke model. Sitharaman added that the best public universities and institutions in the country will collaborate with this digital university.