Connecting India digitally and encouraging entrepreneurship by developing job skills was finance minister Arun Jaitley’s mantra for growth.
In his maiden Budget speech before the Lok Sabha, Jaitley announced a slew of measures including two new schemes — Skill India and Digital India — along with an amendment to Apprenticeship Act and Rs 10,000 crore fund to support start-ups.
With these, Jaitley has delivered on the promises Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made to the electorate. In his election speeches, Modi had regularly mentioned providing adequate skills to youth for employment and creating digital India to check corruption.
The national multi-skill programme, called Skill India, will focus on employability and entrepreneurship skills while training the youth. “It will provide training and support for traditional professions such as welders, carpenters, cobblers, masons and blacksmiths. The convergence of various schemes to attain this objective is also proposed,” he said.
A Rs 10,000 crore start-up fund will give boost to this programme. The fund is meant to give incentives to skilled and educated youth to start their own companies in the medium and small scale industry sector.
“One principal limitation has been availability of start-up capital by way of equity to be brought in by the promoters… The fund will as act as a catalyst to attract private capital by providing equity, quasi equity, soft loans and other risk capital for start-up companies,” Jaitley said.
Taking skill development to different sectors, Jaitley proposed a Rs 200 crore fund to promote “innovation and entrepreneurship in agro industry”. Another Rs 100 crore has been proposed for a young India leadership programme. He also announced Rs 100 crore scheme for virtual classrooms.
Jaitley has set aside Rs 100 crore to give a facelift to employment exchanges that will act as career counselling centres for the youth. “These centres will also extend counselling facilities to the youth for selecting the jobs best suited to their ability and aptitude,” he said.
As Modi had promised, the NDA government will also launch a Rs 500 crore Digital India programme to bridge the divide between digital “haves” and “have-nots”.
“This would ensure broadband connectivity at village level, improve access to services through IT-enabled platforms, greater transparency in government processes and increased indigenous production of IT hardware and software for exports,” Jaitley said.
The minister said special focus will be given to supporting software product start-ups. “A national rural Internet and technology mission for services in villages and schools, training in IT skills and e-Kranti for government delivery and governance scheme is also proposed,” he said.