The Union Budget 2021 announced Rs 50,000 crore in budget for National Research Foundation for the period of five years. This will focus on the national priority thrust areas.
The idea is to promote research and development and spur innovation in the country.
In addition, around Rs 1500 crore is earmarked for financial incentive for making payments in digital mode. Another new initiative taken by the government is the National Language Translation Mission, with the intention to translate governance and policy related documents available online to major Indian languages.
Technology has been a key focus of the Budget over the last few years and the government had announced policy initiatives and investment to boost the sector.
These policy initiatives are in a bid to accelerate innovation leveraging new-age technologies and be competitive even as countries China, Vietnam and Bangladesh are developing cutting edge technology are surpassing India when it comes to attracting investments.
This includes national programme for artificial intelligence “to direct our efforts in the area of artificial intelligence, including research and development of its applications,” said late finance minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech on February 1, 2018. Around Rs 7000 crore were allocated to the mission. However this project is yet to take off.
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The same year, Jaitely announced the mission for Cyber Physical Systems with a total investment of Rs 3660 crore in technology areas to drive innovation using new age technologies in diverse sectors in the several areas including agriculture, water, energy, health and manufacturing. The project was implemented by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
In 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced Rs 8000 crore National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications for five years. “It is opening up new frontiers in computing, communications, cyber security with wide-spread applications. It is expected that lots of commercial applications would emerge from theoretical constructs which are developing in this area,” she said in her budget speech.
While these projects are ambitious, the pace of implementation has been slow point out experts. For instance, the AI mission is yet to take off even two years after the announcement. There is not much clarity on how much the other projects such as quantum computing and data centre parks have progressed.