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Centre sanctions Rs 127 crore for setting up 12 educational institutes in K’taka

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Centre sanctions Rs 127 crore for setting up 12 educational institutes in K’taka

New Delhi, March 16 (IANS) The Ministry of Minority Affairs announced on Saturday that it has taken a significant stride for the development of educational infrastructure in Karnataka by allocating Rs. 127.23 crore for setting up 12 institutes in the state.

The step taken in spirit with the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Viksit Bharat-Samridh Bharat’ would provide educational facilities to 4200 students out of which 3150 belong to the minority population, the ministry said.

These facilities approved for the State of Karnataka are a step towards promoting education and ensuring a conducive environment aiding in the holistic intellectual stimulation of the students.

The Educational infrastructure has been approved as community assets as a bridging step to aid in national development as well as support for NEP (New Education Policy) 2020, the ministry added.

–IANS

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India’s electricity grid is among world’s largest: Economic Survey

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India’s electricity grid is among world’s largest: Economic Survey

India’s electricity grid is among world’s largest: Economic Survey

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) India’s power transmission system is emerging as one of the largest unified electricity grids in the world with the inter-regional capability of transferring 1,18,740 megawatts (MW) on one frequency, according to the Economic Survey 2023-24 tabled in the Parliament on Monday.

Until March 31, 2024, transmission systems expanded to 4,85,544 circuit km of transmission lines and 12,51,080 mega volt amp (MVA) of transformation capacity, the Survey noted.

The government has accelerated its efforts to enhance the sector and meet the continuously rising demand for electricity in the country. The peak electricity demand increased by 13 per cent to 243 GW in FY24.

Between FY23 and FY24, the maximum rise in electricity generation was recorded in renewable energy resources for utilities, the Survey added.

As per the Survey, a total of 2.86 crore households have been electrified since the launch of the Saubhagya scheme in October 2017.

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It also said that the implementation of Electricity (late payment surcharge and related matters) Rules, 2022, has given relief to the DISCOMs, as well as electricity consumers and generating companies.

–IANS

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Number of LPG consumers in India surge by 125 per cent in last 10 years

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Number of LPG consumers in India surge by 125 per cent in last 10 years

Number of LPG consumers in India surge by 125 per cent in last 10 years

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) The LPG infrastructure in India, over the last decade from 2014 to 2024, has surged with the bottling capacity shooting up by close to 70 per cent while the number of consumers has soared by nearly 125 per cent during this period, the Parliament was told on Monday.

“India now has one of the most robust LPG supply infrastructure globally. Before April 2014, nearly 45 per cent of Indian households didn’t have access to clean cooking fuels and were constrained to depend on traditional fuels such as cow dung, biomass and firewood,” Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Suresh Gopi told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.

Prices of cooking gas in India, after the latest round of reduction, are one of the lowest globally, and even lower than in most LPG-producing nations, he added.

The retail price of a 14.2 kg LPG cylinder in Delhi is around Rs 803 while its price in Pakistan, as on May 1 this year, is Rs 1,017.25. In Sri Lanka, the price of a 14.2 kg LPG cylinder is Rs 1,320.94 and in Nepal, it is Rs 1,207.84, the minister said.

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As India imports more than 60 per cent of its domestic LPG consumption, prices of LPG in the country are linked to its price in the international market and the government continues to modulate the effective price to consumers for domestic LPG.

During the period 2020-21 to 2022-23, the average Saudi CP (the international benchmark for LPG pricing) went up from $415 per MT to $712 per MT. However, the increase in the international prices was not fully passed on to the customers.

The government has reduced the effective price of domestic LPG by Rs 200 per 14.2 Kg LPG cylinder with effect from August 30, 2023, the reply said.

Under the PAHAL Scheme, domestic LPG cylinders are sold at non-subsidised price and the applicable subsidy to the consumers is transferred directly into their bank accounts. Apart from the direct subsidy to bank accounts to consumers, the OMCs have also been compensated Rs 22,000 crore in FY 2022-23 by the government to cover the under-recoveries suffered by them in not passing on the high international prices to domestic LPG consumers, the ministry said.

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With effect from May 21, 2022, the government has been providing budgetary support for the targeted subsidy of Rs 200 per 14.2 kg LPG cylinder for Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) beneficiaries for up to 12 refills a year for years 2022-23 and 2023-24. Moreover, from October 5, 2023, the targeted subsidy increased to Rs 300 per 14.2 kg LPG cylinder for all Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) beneficiaries.

The current retail price of domestic LPG at Delhi is Rs. 803 per 14.2 kg cylinder. With a targeted subsidy of Rs 300 per cylinder (and proportionately pro-rated for a 5 Kg cylinder), the effective cost for PMUY consumers is Rs 503 per 14.2 kg cylinder (at Delhi) currently.

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2.63 crore houses built for rural poor in last 9 years: Economic Survey

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2.63 crore houses built for rural poor in last 9 years: Economic Survey

2.63 crore houses built for rural poor in last 9 years: Economic Survey

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) As many as 2.63 crore houses have been constructed for the poor in the last nine years under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojana, according to the Economic Survey released on Monday.

“The quality of life in the rural areas has progressed in terms of basic amenities, education, health, and financial inclusion. In terms of basic amenities, 11.57 crore toilets were constructed under the Swachh Bharat Mission – Grameen, while 11.7 crore households were provided with tap water connection under the Jal Jeevan Mission as of July 10, 2024,” the Survey stated.

In addition, 35.7 crore RuPay debit cards have been issued under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) as of June 26, 2024, leading to enhanced financial inclusion in the rural areas.

In the health sector, 1.58 lakh sub-centres and 24,935 primary health centres have resulted in the enhancement of quality of life in the rural areas, it added.

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The Survey said that MGNREGS has made significant progress in terms of person-days generated and women participation rate with person-days generated increasing from 265.4 crore in 2019-20 to 309.2 crore in 2023-24 (as per MIS), and women participation rate increasing from 54.8 per cent in 2019-20 to 58.9 per cent in 2023-24.

The Economic Survey also pointed out that MGNREGS has evolved into an asset creation programme for sustainable livelihood diversification, as seen in the rise in the share of individual beneficiary ‘works on individual land’ from 9.6 per cent of total completed works in FY14 to 73.3 per cent in FY24.

–IANS

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What small traders from Varanasi expect from the Union Budget

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What small traders from Varanasi expect from the Union Budget

What small traders from Varanasi expect from the Union Budget

Varanasi, July 22(IANS) Common people have high hopes from the Union Budget 2024-25 which will be presented in the Parliament on Tuesday.

Speaking to IANS, small traders from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi have shared their thoughts on the Union Budget.

Chandanlal, who runs a Banarasi saree business, said, “We have a lot of expectations from the Modi government, including reduction of GST on Banarasi sarees. There is high demand for our art and tradition, but due to increasing GST, sales are decreasing. If the government provides some help to promote our business, Banarasi sarees can reach people at lower prices.”

Surya, who runs a guest house in Varanasi, told IANS, “The government should put an end to the commission given to brokers who bring guests to hotels or guest houses. Also, the GST on stays is very high. Even if a guest stays for one day, he or she will have to pay 12 per cent GST. To promote tourism, the government should reduce GST.”

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Another trader said, “We hope the government will provide tax relief to small businesses. Also, the prices of goods used in restaurants, such as lentils and raw materials are increasing. The government should address this problem faced by the small traders like us.”

Another trader from Varanasi hopes that the government will present a Budget that provides relief to both traders and the common people.

“The government should ensure that people do not get disappointed with the Budget. Also, the government needs to reduce taxes.”

–IANS

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Economic Survey: Non-farm sectors to play important role in job generation (IANS Opinion)

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Economic Survey: Non-farm sectors to play important role in job generation (IANS Opinion)

Economic Survey: Non-farm sectors to play important role in job generation (IANS Opinion)

New Delhi: The Economic Survey 2023-24 has brought out the importance of non-farm sectors in the growth trajectory of the Indian economy.

The farm sector always remains high on the political agenda for obvious reasons and hence the non-farm sector often has to take a back seat.

However, the Economic Survey 2023-24 notes that the Indian economy needs to generate an average of nearly 78.5 lakh jobs annually until 2030 in the non-farm sector to cater to the rising workforce.

The Survey mentions that there is a scope to supplement the existing schemes of Production Linked Incentive (60 lakh employment generation over 5 years), MITRA Textile scheme (20 lakh employment generation), MUDRA, etc., while boosting their implementation.

Gig Economy

Incidentally, gig economy seems to have emerged as a front-runner for creating employment opportunities in the non-farm sector.

According to NITI Aayog’s indicative estimates based on national labour force survey data, in 2020–21, 77 lakh workers were engaged in gig economy, and as per the Economic Survey 2023-24, the gig workforce is expected to expand to 2.35 crore and form 6.7 per cent of the non-agricultural workforce or 4.1 per cent of the total livelihood in India by 2029-30.

In this context, it is important to develop a social security mechanism for this new workforce. More importantly, there is an urgent need to upgrade the skills of gig workers so that there is a continuous upward move in this sector.

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Gig workers are largely semi-skilled or unskilled workers. Their skills upgradation would ensure that there is an upward mobile workforce, a healthy sign for any economy.

Rise of Corporates

The good news is that India’s corporate sector’s profitability was at a 15-year high in FY24 with profits quadrupling between FY20 and FY23. The Economic Survey mentions that businesses have an obligation to strike the right balance between the deployment of capital and the deployment of labour.

“In their fascination for AI and fear of erosion of competitiveness, businesses have to bear in mind their responsibility for employment generation and the consequent impact on social stability,” says the Survey.

Artificial Intelligence

The Economic Survey also indicated that the Modi government is seized of the fact that AI is a double-edged sword and one needs to utilise it properly before it gets too late.

It is also a great disruptor. Highlighting the need for research and development in this sector, the Economic Survey 2023-24 mentions a policy brief that suggests a need for an inter-agency coordination authority for AI which would act as a central institution guiding the research, decision-making, and policy planning on AI, and job creation.

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The government has launched several initiatives to ensure an AI-enabled ecosystem and to connect AI to the youth of the country. Some of these include ‘Future Skills Prime’, a national programme for school students titled ‘YUVAi’ (Youth for Unnati and Vikas with AI), and ‘Responsible AI for Youth 2022’.

A budget of Rs 10,300 crore has been provided in 2024 for the India AI Mission, a significant move to strengthen the AI ecosystem.

Services Sector

According to the Economic Survey, the services sector continues to be a significant contributor to India’s growth, accounting for about 55 per cent of the total size of the economy in FY24.

As per the provisional estimates, the services sector is estimated to have grown 7.6 per cent in FY24. The gross GST collection reached Rs 20.18 lakh crore in FY24, marking 11.7 per cent increase from the previous year, underscoring robust domestic trading activity.

Business activity in the services sector in the country transcended the obstacles of the pandemic and other disruptions worldwide.

In March 2024, the services Purchase Manager Index (PMI) soared to 61.2, marking one of the sector’s most significant sales and business activity expansions in nearly 14 years.

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Post-pandemic, services exports have maintained a steady momentum and accounted for 44 per cent of India’s total exports in FY24, the Survey notes.

India ranked fifth in services exports, with other countries being the European Union (excluding intra-EU trade), the United States, the United Kingdom, and China.

India’s growing reputation as the preferred destination for Global Capability Centres (GCCs) by multinational corporations has significantly boosted software and business services exports.

India’s share in digitally delivered services exports globally increased to 6 per cent in 2023 from 4.4 per cent in 2019. This rise in services exports, coupled with a fall in imports, led to an increase in net services receipts on a YoY basis during FY24, which helped cushion India’s current account deficit.

There are multiple reasons for this growth, including significant domestic demand, rapid urbanisation, expansion of e-commerce platforms generated heightened requirements for logistics, and digital-related services.

It is important to note that the government has played a crucial role in fostering the growth and competitiveness of India’s services by creating an enabling environment, promoting investment, enhancing skills, and facilitating market access.

(Singapore-based Indian entrepreneur Deepshikha Kumar is the founder-director of SpeakIn. The views expressed are personal)

–IANS

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