Union Budget 2015: Guest Column: Govt should spend on digital infra development: Zafar Rais
Zafar Rais, Founder and CEO of Mindshift Interactive, on why the government needs to keep its promise of the Make In India initiative while enhancing the education ecosystem, liberalize FDI in e-commerce and provide a stable digital infrastructure in the country
India’s Entertainment & Media is expected to touch Rs 1,199 billion growing cumulatively at 13.2 per cent CAGR to 2015. This will largely be due to rebound in consumer spend, advertising spend and, most importantly, in the E&M spend. The industry is poised for greater growth in the foreseeable future though some key regulatory hurdles remain. Significant revenues in Indian E&M industry continue to be non-digital though there is good growth in digital spends. With rebound in overall advertising, internet advertising too is projected to grow by 25.5 per cent over the next five years and reach an estimated Rs 24 billion this year. While there is good revenue growth, the challenge for the Indian industry would be how to make the growth profitable in all its constituents. Favourable government policies will help but the industry does need to look at their own operating model so that sustained investment in the E&M sector becomes possible.
Over the last few years, the industry has witnessed a huge focus on digital marketing and promotion. The union budget is round the corner and the expectations from each sector are high. Expecting government to relax certain tax benefits to industry players is the driving force. The Indian consumer is now reaping the benefits of enhanced digital experience with smart devices and enhanced bandwidth speed and we are hoping the budget leads to future infrastructure investment. Digital education is expected to be promoted in a big way under our PM's digital India initiative and we are looking forward to some specific forward steps and budgetary allocations for it in the forthcoming budget.
Few expected highlights from the budget would be:
'Make in India' Agenda
The government initiative for the digitization and employment opportunities should be as promised. The purpose of initiating this campaign was to boost local manufacturing sector for domestic and global markets. If the budget broadens the arena, planned higher employment rates can also generate a better working force. It is impressive to see that the Finance Minister will be allocating Rs 10,000 crore to support the start-up ecosystem in India. This will have businesses acquire access to low cost finance, softening of interest rates and ease setting start-ups.
Employment is anticipated to increase considering the government is working on a new innovative model of financing infrastructure in the country. We’re definitely moving towards more recruitment and enhanced skill sets
Enhancing The Education Ecosystem
Skill sets are increasingly in demand with the digital media industry growing at a rapid pace and not enough to satiate the need. A higher investment in education within the media industry will help churn out the right talent and help in faster and better recruitments
Tax Exemption Policies
Keeping in mind the inflationary scenario, the budget might have a higher tax exemption limit that might increase exemption of Rs 2.5 lakh limit to at least Rs 3 lakh. Increasing the basic limit will mean a higher disposable income, spending power and savings. If the tax exemptions for women are increased higher than R. 3.5 lakh it could as result in having higher ratio of working women then that at the present.
Stable internet access to rural India
The last decade has witnessed unprecedented Internet diffusion in India. Over the past three years alone, Internet usage in India increased from 100 to 200 million people. The increase has not taken place only among the urban but also amongst the rural Indian population. Regional marketing is thus going to be essential and crucial for advertising in the next few months. Regional marketing will impact not just Facebook usage but also advertising in order to increase Google and SEO ranks, providing content of higher relevance to different segments. Widening the internet usage among the rural areas will also impact the marketing initiatives for the year
Liberalization of FDI in eCommerce sector
The retail sector online will receive the much needed boost with policies in the ecommerce sector. Policies can help create increased employment and higher benefits to consumers. The benefits will affect consumers, government, e-commerce players and retailers in general
R&D on social media too should be given similar benefits to encourage the entrepreneurs to work out innovative solutions for a better digital connectivity of the nation.
(Zafar Rais is the Founder and CEO of Mindshift Interactive)
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