‘Had a big smile on my face’: Vedanta’s Anil Agarwal hails THIS Budget initiative for children

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s one announcement in Budget 2023 brought “a big smile” on billionaire Anil Agarwal’s face, the industrialist revealed on Thursday. Agarwal, the chairman of Vedanta Resources, said he had a big smile on his face when he saw that the government was bringing a national digital library for children. He said the digital libraries will be a window to the world for students in the country.

During her Budget speech, Sitharaman on Wednesday announced that a national digital library for children and adolescents would be set up for facilitating the availability of quality books across geographies, languages, genres, and levels, and device-agnostic accessibility. The states will be encouraged to set up physical libraries for them at panchayat and ward levels and provide infrastructure for accessing the national digital library resources. 

Elated at this move, Agarwal in a LinkedIn post said people have heard stories about how foreign students watch YouTube videos of Indians to learn coding. “Now imagine how much our own students can benefit if they get access to affordable laptops and digital libraries – this will be their window to the world,” he wrote. 
The billionaire, who keeps sharing stories from his entrepreneurial journey to inspire youths, said he came from a generation that had to walk many kilometers just to learn, but things were different now as everything was going digital. “I truly believe that our Indian children are the most talented and brightest students in the world. Some of them still don’t have access to technology,” he said.  

The Vedanta boss said his analyst told him that laptop sales went up 50 per cent during Covid and that the numbers will only grow more. He said affordable laptops are a necessity in today’s time. “Now, we don’t just have to meet the needs of India, but also the needs of every child who has grown up with a dream. It’s time to go from click-click of the pen to tick-tick of laptop keys…,” he wrote. 

Besides the digital library, the finance minister also announced steps to make up for learning loss during Covid. She said to build a culture of reading and to make up for pandemic-time learning loss, the National Book Trust, Children’s Book Trust, and other sources will be encouraged to provide and replenish noncurricular titles in regional languages and English to these physical libraries.

Collaboration with NGOs that work in literacy will also be a part of this initiative, Sitharaman said, adding that to inculcate financial literacy, financial sector regulators and organisations will be encouraged to provide age-appropriate reading material to these libraries.

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