The Union Budget 2022, tabled by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, proposed to empower start-ups in the country by incorporating the use of drones in various service sectors, providing entrepreneurial opportunities through a dedicated portal, and offering financial support to start-ups interested in venturing into agriculture and rural enterprises.
Sitharaman announced a Drone Shakti initiative aimed at encouraging the use of drones in various industries and provide a fillip to start-ups working in drone technologies. She also announced the Drone-As-A-Service (DrAAS) programme, which will encourage the use of drones in service sectors. This initiative is expected to involve drones, mostly those developed by Indian startups, in trade, agriculture, logistics and more. The facilities required to upskill people for the use of drone technologies will also be set up, she added.
"Artificial Intelligence, Geospatial Systems and drones, Semiconductor and its ecosystem, Space Economy, Genomics and Pharmaceuticals, Green Energy, and Clean Mobility Systems have immense potential to assist sustainable development. They provide employment opportunities for youth, and make Indian industry more efficient and competitive,” she said, while tabling her fourth General Budget.
Most of the leading engineering colleges in India, including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), have dedicated incubation centres for startups working on drone technologies. Drones developed at IIT Delhi, IIT Guwahati and other institutes recently performed at Republic Day events across India.
According to the Drone Rules 2021, a security clearance is not required before any registration or licence issuance for the operation of drones. The fresh set of rules, introduced last year, also reduced the fees for permission to operate drones.
The government has also decided to set up a dedicated fund for agritech startups, which will offer financial backup to startups willing to venture into agriculture and other rural enterprises, Sitharaman said in her address to the Lok Sabha.
Sitharaman said the use of 'kisan (farmer) drones' will be promoted for crop assessment, digitisation of land records, and spraying of insecticides and nutrients.
Digital Ecosystem for Skilling and Livelihood, the DESH-Stack e-portal, announced during the Budget, will empower startups by providing entrepreneurial opportunities, the finance minister said. This portal aims to empower citizens to skill, reskill or upskill through online training.