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Delighted That The Government Has Proposed Focus On AI Technologies: Tushar Vashisht

Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary Ayush Ministry commented on the Budget saying that, “The budget is very inclusive & will take care of the last person of the society”

At the start of his Union budget speech, Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “This year's budget will particularly concentrate on agriculture and rural economy. We will also focus on promoting education and healthcare.”

Arun Jaitley announced the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme, saying that “India cannot realise demographic dividend without its citizens being healthy”.

Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary Ayush Ministry commented on the Budget saying that, “The budget is very inclusive & will take care of the last person of the society.”

He also highlighted that, “Ayushman Bharat Abhiyan is the biggest ever health protection scheme in the World.”

Players from the health and wellness shared their reactions to Union Budget 2018 with BWBusinessWorld:

Tushar Vashisht CEO and Co-Founder mobile health and fitness app HealthifyMe believes that the government has done a good job of managing populist demands with free market expectations.

“The government's focus on solving the 'problem of access to quality healthcare' through the National Health Protection scheme providing a 5 Lakh annual cover to 10 crore poor Indian families is heartening. This will go a long way in helping India become a healthier nation. This also aligns with Healthifyme's own mission of solving the access problem, we are doing this in our own, unique way - by connecting consumers with top coaches through a combination of AI technology and human empathy,” he said.

Being an entrepreneur himself Tushar expressed great joy with the proposed reduction in tax rates for angel investments as “a welcome change for the entrepreneurship ecosystem."

Tushar also shared his excitement on the expansion of subsidised medical cover for “fellow Indians from the lowest strata of society.”

“I am delighted that the government has proposed focus on artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, given that HealthifyMe has been built on a strong foundation of AI to augment our nutritionists and trainers,” he said.

In a similar vein Rekuram Varadharaj, Co-founder & COO, healthi (a digital preventive health startup) appreciated the governments move to “implement a National Programme that provides an impetus to Artificial Intelligence as a whole.”

“Along with this, the key focus on healthcare that this year’s budget has presented will benefit organizations like healthi, that are working with the sole aim of providing quality access to preventive healthcare to the majority,” he said.

He believes it will be worthwhile to wait and see how the world’s largest government-sponsored healthcare initiative, the National Health Protection Scheme fares in good time.

Varadharaj emphasized that, “If implemented well, this move can effectively support healthi and other such startups in the healthcare sector.”

The focus of the budget right now is on curative health, particularly for the underprivileged and this is a welcome step.

However, he feels that, “India also has the opportunity to do something similar for preventive health. The focus on preventing diseases before they occur and extract a tool is yet to emerge. The government's allocation of Rs.1200 crore towards the setting up of health and wellness centers will hopefully be a step towards preventing and managing chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease etc. more effectively.”

Dr Anand Lakshman, Founder & CEO, AddressHealth (India’s largest provider of health services in schools for children) said, "This year’s budget has been exceptionally favourable towards the healthcare sector owing to its sheer fund size and budget allocated per family. However, the ambiguity in the tax regime is a big disappointment."

Even though healthcare providers, doctors and healthcare institutions have been exempted from GST, startups and organizations working in the preventive healthcare sector have been left out. “There is a need to revisit the exemptions in the healthcare segment,” he feels.

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