The past week saw the Indian government announce the nation's 2011 budget plan for the railways and everything else. Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and Minister for Finance Pranab Mukherjee made some announcements on upgrading the IT infrastructure and green technologies. Here are a few announcements from the two:
Union Budget 2011 by Pranab Mukherjee
- 190 institutes are should be connected to the National Knowledge Network (NKN) over optical fibre. The target of 1500 is expected to be met by March 2012. With the NKN in place, collaborative research and robust a data network between institutes should help India's efforts in education and innovation.
- A National Innovation Council has been set up under Sam Pitroda (widely respected as the father of Indian telecommunication). There will be State Innovation Councils in each state in the coming months.
- A 200 Crore one-time grant to IIT, Kharagpur.
- A 3 year time line to provide broadband in rural India. The project received $3.4 Billion from the government, not long ago.
- $67 Million to help the States in moving to e-Stamps and upgrading their infrastructure.
- National Securities Depository Limited to work with National Information Utility on the IT infrastructure for the Goods and Services Tax processes like registration, returns and payments.
- Reduction in excise duties on Ink-jet and Laserjet printers
- Concessions available on component and accessories for mobile handset manufacturing have been extended to March 2012.
- Relaxation in custom duties for parts needed in Hybrid vehicles, solar latterns
Here's the word cloud of Pranab Mukherjee's budget speech:
Railway Budget 2011 by Mamata Banerjee:
- Internet access on trains, pilot on the Howrah-Rajdhani Express.
- Setting up on Center of Excellence in software at Darjeeling under the IT arm of Indian Railways - Center for Railway Information Systems (CRIS)
- Launch of another e-ticketing portal from CRIS, whether this will complement the existing IRCTC ticket booking website or replace it remains to be seen.
- Use of Solar energy and bio-diesel to increase and 2011-2012 to be known as "Year of Green Energy".
- Pilot for a pan-India smart card called Go India to be used with vending machines (if they work), Internet (if we get it) and ticket booking.
The word cloud for Mamata Banerjee's budget speech: