Budget 2023:24: Laying down blueprint for sustainable, inclusive and green India 

By Anjali Bansal February 03, 2023

The forward-looking measures in the budget will further strengthen India’s position as a global climate leader, and the focus on youth, technology and innovation, and sustainability will drive the achievement of a green future for us all

Budget 2023:24: Laying down blueprint for sustainable, inclusive and green India 
The Green Credit Programme is for incentivising and mobilising additional resources for environmentally sustainable actions. DepositPhotos

The 2023 Union Budget announced by the Finance Minister laid a blueprint for India’s Amrit Kaal over the next 25 years, as we progress towards a sustainable, inclusive and green India@100. 

The seven goals or ‘Saptarishi’ will further advance us towards the Prime Minister’s vision of India as a developed country by 2047, while the emphasis on green growth, inclusive development and leveraging youth power as key pillars will ensure that our development model, unlike that of the West, treads a balance between people, profits and the planet. Catalysing this low-carbon development pathway will also require incentives to drive investments in technology, innovation and the start-up ecosystem. 

The outlay of Rs 35,000 crore towards India’s energy transition and net zero objectives will boost energy independence. We will also have to develop alternative energy sources, and in this vein, the initiatives on green hydrogen as well as waste-to-energy are welcome. As we work towards greening the grid, grid integration will be paramount to ensure energy access and it will be aided by the inter-state transmission system. 

The on-shoring of energy storage, through viability gap funding for battery energy storage, as well as the custom duty removal for machinery for lithium ion batteries will move us closer to an ongoing Aatmanirbhar Bharat and boost domestic manufacturing. These, along with the custom duty reduction and concessional duty extension for lithium-ion cells, will help accelerate cost-parity for electric vehicles and increase penetration in both consumer and commercial segments. Continued support for the vehicle scrappage policy will help to replace older, polluting vehicles with greener miles, while maintaining the tenet of circularity.  

The Budget also included several initiatives, which will help improve the resilience of India’s climate-vulnerable agriculture sector and farmers. The support for build-out of adequate and appropriate warehousing infrastructure will help improve farmers' incomes, while also reducing food waste. The PRANAM scheme and bio-inputs centres shall incentivise the adoption of sustainable and regenerative agriculture practices. The focus on making India a global hub for millets will promote wider cultivation and adoption of the resource-efficient and more climate-resilient crop. 

We are particularly looking forward to the Agricultural Accelerator Fund, which will support innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation in rural parts of the country. We are seeing entrepreneurial opportunity and impact in Tier 2, Tier 3, and rural India and this fund will help promote a more diverse and inclusive start-up ecosystem, which fully leverages our youth power.  

India’s public digital infrastructure has proven to be a critical building block to drive innovation and democratise access to digital rails for young start-ups with limited resources as is being observed across payments, health and commerce, and we expected a similar trajectory to play out with the planned open-source public digital good for agriculture. The focus on biodiversity and ecological conservation through initiatives for mangroves and mangroves will be important to create natural carbon sinks.  Green jobs and green skilling for the youth will help bring them into the mainstream economy and create more climate workers for India and the world 

 The Green Credit programme will incentivise sustainable business models and green initiatives by the industry as also channel the much needed capital to support the transition to a sustainable economy. 

Finally, the initiatives for digital economy and innovation will further strengthen the start-up ecosystem, which today’s youth is a critical stakeholder of. Capacity building support is equally important for start-ups, in addition to capital, and measures such as Centres of Excellence for AI, labs for 5G-based app development, and the National Data Governance Policy will help provide this support. 

We would also look forward to increased policy support to promote carbon sequestration and removal through nature-based solutions and incentives to boost domestic manufacturing of hydrogen electrolysers and initiatives for distributed / rooftop solar to enable renewable solar energy access for MSMEs, artisans and FPOs, especially in remote areas, in addition to the current outlay for energy transition, in the next Budget. 

The forward-looking measures in the Budget will further strengthen India’s position as a global climate leader. The focus on youth, technology and innovation and sustainability will drive the achievement of a more sustainable, inclusive and green future for us all. 

(The author is Founding Partner, Avaana Capital)