Budget 2022: Govt to set up Digital University, 750 virtual labs and 75 skilling E-labs

Focus on skilling and employability, national skill qualification framework (NSQF) to align with dynamic industry needs. Ecosystem for skilling and livelihood-the Desh-Stack e-portal to be launched

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New Delhi: While presenting the Union Budget 2022-23 in Parliament on February 01, 2022, the Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the skilling programmes and partnership with the industry will be reoriented to promote continuous skilling avenues, sustainability, and employability. The National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) will be aligned with dynamic industry needs.
Digital Ecosystem for Skilling and Livelihood – the DESH-Stack eportal – will be launched. This portal aims to empower citizens to skill, reskill or upskill through on-line training. It will also provide API-based trusted skill credentials, payment and discovery layers to find relevant jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.
The Finance Minister announced that the Startups will be promoted to facilitate ‘Drone Shakti’ through varied applications and for Drone-As-A-Service (DrAAS). In select ITIs, in all states, the required courses for skilling, will be started.
Nirmala Sitharaman announced that a Digital University will be established to provide access to students across the country for world-class quality universal education with personalised learning experience at their doorsteps. This will be made available in different Indian languages and ICT formats. The University will be built on a networked hub-spoke model, with the hub building cutting edge ICT expertise. The best public universities and institutions in the country will collaborate as a network of hub-spokes.
Universalization of Quality Education:
Nirmala Sitharaman said that due to the pandemic-induced closure of schools, children, particularly in the rural areas, and those from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and other weaker sections, have lost almost 2 years of formal education. “Mostly, these are children in government schools. We recognize the need to impart supplementary teaching and to build a resilient mechanism for education delivery. For this purpose, ‘one class-one TV channel’ programme of PM eVIDYA will be expanded from 12 to 200 TV channels. This will enable all states to provide supplementary education in regional languages for classes 1-12”, she said.
The Finance Minister added that in vocational courses, to promote crucial critical thinking skills, to give space for creativity, 750 virtual labs in science and mathematics, and 75 skilling e-labs for simulated learning environment, will be set-up in 2022-23.
High-quality e-content in all spoken languages will be developed for delivery via internet, mobile phones, TV and radio through Digital Teachers.
A competitive mechanism for development of quality e-content by the teachers will be set-up to empower and equip them with digital tools of teaching and facilitate better learning outcomes.
Urban Planning Support to States:
Nirmala Sitharaman announced that for developing India specific knowledge in urban planning and design, and to deliver certified training in these areas, up to five existing academic institutions in different regions will be designated as centres of excellence. These centres will be provided endowment funds of ` 250 crore each. In addition, AICTE will take the lead to improve syllabi, quality and access of urban planning courses in other institutions.
GIFT-IFSC:
The Finance Minister said that World-class foreign universities and institutions will be allowed in the GIFT City to offer courses in Financial Management, FinTech, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics free from domestic regulations, except those by IFSCA to facilitate availability of high-end human resources for financial services and technology.
Incentives for Start-ups:
Start-ups have emerged as drivers of growth for our economy. Over the past few years, the country has seen a manifold increase in successful start-ups. Eligible start-ups established before 31.3.2022 had been provided a tax incentive for three consecutive years out of ten years from incorporation. In view of the Covid pandemic, Nirmala Sitharaman proposed to extend the period of incorporation of the eligible start-up by one more year, that is, upto March 31, 2023 for providing such tax incentive.
Clarification in relation to ‘Health and Education Cess’ as business expenditure:
Nirmala Sitharaman said that the income-tax is not an allowable expenditure for computation of business income. This includes tax as well as surcharges. The ‘Health and Education Cess’ is imposed as an additional surcharge on the taxpayer for funding specific government welfare programs. However, some courts have allowed ‘Health and education ‘cess’ as business expenditure, which is against the legislative intent. To reiterate the legislative intent, Finance Minister proposed to clarify that any surcharge or cess on income and profits is not allowable as business expenditure.