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‘More Could Have Been Done On An Immediate Tactical Solution For Jobs’
Aalok Kumar, President & CEO, NEC India, in a conversation with BW Businessworld’s Annurag Batra, shares his thoughts on the Union Budget 2021 announcement as well as his company’s plans
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What are your initial reactions to the first Budget of the new decade?
It was a tough job for Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to strike a balance between what was expected and what is a necessity. However, it still strikes a remarkable balance which was needed for the economy. Budget 2021 is an aggressive and bold move in infrastructure and connected cities’ vision. More could have been done in IT and Telecom, and on the jobs and demand side.
What were your expectations that went unaddressed?
India is at a juncture where it has proved to the world what the spending on infrastructure and IT can unlock. We have two decades of history wherein the IT sector has been enabling digitisation. When it comes to the power of harnessing the talent that resides in India, more could have been done to attract investments in the IT sector, making sure more R&D is done for global purposes. We should have given more incentives for the international market to solve the dynamic challenges that our diverse country presents. Covid-19 has given access to the roadblocks we have had in terms of our economy, leading to opening up of our minds. I think a greater focus on the digitalisation agenda could have helped more. However, the vision is set through investments in infrastructure around railways, airports, roadways, etc. I do think there will be a benefit to the IT sector
Can we expect NEC to bring its manufacturing based technology to India?
We have around 6,000 people and seven R&D centres in Bangalore. We have also invested in many areas of telecom. Already on the service side, we have done a lot. However, in the manufacturing area, the reason for multinational companies to come to India for setting up units is not just dependent on the land acquisition policies or Production Linked Incentives (PLI). We also have to be mindful that India also provides enormous opportunities in terms of great local market and demand, which should never be underestimated. The larger opportunities that India can offer in manufacturing will be driven by the potential of this local demand. This is very much part of our plan. It depends on how it will be done as well as the size of the demand.
How would you rate this Budget?
I would tag this Budget as ‘Badhe Chalo’ with a local spin to it. The government should try to have a resolve and continue to uplift the living conditions of the people. The current Budget has very well done that, which will lay the foundation of this vision. But more could have been done on an immediate tactical solution for jobs. It would eventually come through the money allocated to other sectors. I view this Budget wherein fundamentals has been brought back. Through this Budget, the government has tracked the attention where it should be.
Would you consider this to be a holistic Budget?
You will never have a perfect Budget because of the ambitious economy filled with youngsters. Due to such a large economy, we won’t be able to serve every demand. There will be a gap between the expectations and the necessity. Clearly, this Budget has laid the foundation for investments that will further lead the economy holistically.