What Cybersecurity Inc. can expect from the Budget 2021

It is Budget season, and the Budget in question could very well be one of the most important budget discussions in recent times. For one, all eyes will be on the road that the Government takes towards economic recovery. With the economic outlook looking gloomy, it is up to the Government to get back to the drawing board and reinforce its strength to bounce back. Added to that, it is imperative for the Government to continue its Digital growth programs with the same enthusiasm that they have for the past 7 years. Digital growth programs have been a key driver in driving up employment and simplifying operations, and the pace of digital growth needs to be consistent in the next decade for India to embark on a road of sustained economic growth.

That said, a robust cybersecurity posture makes up the backbone of the digital growth story. Growth without security might well result in unforeseen circumstances that can result in the collapse of the economy. And India’s growth story so far has been marred by the conspicuous absence of a commendable cybersecurity policy

India’s Fintech Innovation and Digital Payment Drive over the past 5 years has been commendable, and as the RBI Predicts, digital transactions could reach Rs 15 trillion a day by 2025. The lockdown scenario, and the aftermath of the pandemic has only served to give a fillip to the digital transaction cause. But, with the proliferation of digitisation, come the obvious risks and challenges. Digital Frauds have risen by 500% in this year alone, accentuated by the increased digital dependence. The fact that the Government has been dabbling with the idea of a National Cybersecurity Policy without resolving on a concrete plan means that the breaches and instances of fraud could reach a point of no return. The breaches have proliferated from finance to other areas as well (bearing in mind the Mumbai powercut), and could also present a potential threat to India’s vaccine drive.

To be brief, a Concrete plan of action with respect to a National Cybersecurity policy is imperative in the Budget this year, as it will form the backbone of India’s Digital Push in the next decade, and additionally, set aside funds for cybersecurity awareness amongst the general populace as well. What the Government could do is setup a Cybersecurity Center of Excellence and work with the DSCI and Nasscomm, which have been doing exceptional work, to further nurture the cybersecurity ecosystem in India, and build indigenous offensive cyber capabilities.

With respect to harvesting and replenishing the start up space in India, which has taken a hit due to the pandemic, the Government needs a more nuanced approach to encourage funding. This can be done in n number of ways, the first of which is the realisation of a more flexible framework for funding of startups by foreign investors, which would actually help in mobilising the startup funding arena. Apart from that, given the significant maturity that has occurred in the startup space over the past decade, it is ideal for the Government to facilitate growth by relaxing Angel Investing norms, and adoption of measures such as inclusion of debt funding as a part of Angel Investments. All in all, a flourishing startup space is indispensable in making India bounce back to booming economic growth, and complementary policies will help in ensuring this growth

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