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Indian women capable of learning AI skills and play a far better role: Arundhati Bhattacharya

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Indian women capable of learning AI skills and play a far better role: Arundhati Bhattacharya

New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) As skilling becomes top priority for the government in creating a talent pool for new and emerging technologies like AI in India, women in the country need to be at the forefront of learning generative AI and play a key role in shaping up new industries, Arundhati Bhattacharya, CEO and Chairperson of Salesforce India, said on Friday.

Speaking to IANS, Bhattacharya who served as former chairperson of the State Bank of India (SBI), said that her advice to women professionals is that they must be at the forefront of whatever industry they are in.

“In the technology industry, generative AI and AI in general are evolving very quickly. Women are very capable of learning as they grow. You have to think on your feet, you have to multitask because it gives women a big advantage,” she said on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

“As long as you are open to doing that, as long as you are sort of conscious of the fact that you need to keep learning, you need to keep evolving, and there is barely any reason why in the new tech areas that are emerging, women should not be playing a far better role”.

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At the New Delhi declaration of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) last December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised that the government’s endeavour is to take full advantage of the capabilities of AI for social development and inclusive growth.

“India is also fully committed to the responsible and ethical use of AI. We have started the ‘National Programme on Artificial Intelligence’. We are also going to launch an AI mission in Bharat,” PM Modi had told the gathering.

Bhattacharya said there was a lot of excitement about GenAI but it is still an evolving technology.

“The early excitement has somewhat gone down as people have realised that there are a lot of other concerns with GenAI. Therefore, they want to understand how those concerns are being addressed. Very few have actually put AI for complete use cases and skilling would the key going forward,” she informed.

One of the primary objectives of the ‘India AI Mission’ is to democratise AI skills by taking them to tier 2 and 3 cities.

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Skilling for new technologies is one of the top agenda for the government, as it recognizes that there is an urgent need for the tech industry and academic institutions to work along with the governments globally in shaping the future pipeline of talent for AI-related jobs.

“It is clear that there is going to be a huge talent deficit in the field of AI. There is an urgent need for our academic institutions, whether in the UK, Japan or India, to really understand this and start delivering the talent that this AI ecosystem will require,” Minister of State for Electronics and IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, said during the GPAI summit.

According to the minister, the AI industry needs cutting-edge talent, architects and designers of large-language models (LLMs).

Nasscom said recently that India currently ranks first in terms of AI skill penetration and AI talent concentration, and the AI skill shortage is now being felt across the spectrum.

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–IANS

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India's GDP growth for FY25 to surpass Economic Survey's forecast: CII

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India's GDP growth for FY25 to surpass Economic Survey's forecast: CII

India's GDP growth for FY25 to surpass Economic Survey's forecast: CII

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) The Economic Survey 2023-2024 is positive about the India growth story, and India’s GDP growth for FY25 will surpass the forecast and has the potential to reach 8 per cent, Sanjiv Puri, President, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), said on Monday.

The Economic Survey, tabled by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Parliament, projects India’s GDP growth rate at 6.5 to 7 per cent for 2024-25 as it sees the economy on a strong wicket.

According to Puri, the GDP growth for FY25, which is imminently achievable, is driven by excellent macro-financial management, and a facilitative policy environment which includes a thrust on capex and inflation control.

“CII is confident that, going forward, the Indian economy has the potential to achieve 7 per cent plus growth backed by a consensus between the Centre, states, and the private sector on the reform agenda,” he said in a statement.

Labour-intensive sectors such as tourism, care economy and food processing sector have the potential to increase employment in the economy, which is critical.

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“The Survey is spot-on in terms of the six key areas unveiled for Amrit Kaal namely boosting private investment, growth and expansion of MSMEs which is referred to as India’s Mittelstand; agriculture as a growth engine, financing green transition, bridging the education-employment gap and building state capacity and capability,” Puri emphasised.

Similarly, the focus on improving the quality of life in the hinterland and emphasis on the social sector such as healthcare, would go a long way to empower the marginalised and ensure that every Indian becomes a stakeholder in New India, said the apex industry chamber.

–IANS

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Union Budget: Experts urge govt to remove 18 pc GST on mental health services

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Union Budget: Experts urge govt to remove 18 pc GST on mental health services

Union Budget: Experts urge govt to remove 18 pc GST on mental health services

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) The government must remove or limit the 18 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) on mental health services, and allocate resources strategically to help India become a mentally resilient society, experts said on the eve of Union Budget presentation on Monday.

Mental health is a key area of concern that can have a significant impact on the productivity and economy of the country.

“Mental health issues are highly prevalent, yet are poorly managed and are affecting a significant number of our population. In the upcoming Budget, we urge the government to remove or reduce the 18 per cent GST on mental health services,” Jyoti Kapoor, Founder & Director of Manasthali Wellness, told IANS.

According to experts, with declining mental health, there has been an increase in the need for health insurance policies that cover both physical and mental health.

Unfortunately, people are not reporting these conditions as the cost of the available medications and therapies often proves challenging.

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Divya Mohindroo, counselling psychologist, highlighted the need for comprehensive policies to handle India’s mental health crisis and the need to increase the workforce in the sector.

“Out of an estimated 150 million people needing mental health services, only fewer than 30 million seek help,” Mohindroo told IANS.

“Lack of mental health professionals is crippling in India, with merely 0.3 psychiatrists, 0.07 psychologists, and 0.07 social workers available per 100,000 people,” she added.

“There should be specific measures for mental health, and we are hopeful the Budget will prioritise this urgent issue. There is an immediate need to strengthen India’s mental health workforce, with just one psychiatrist per two lakh people,” Mohindroo said.

She also suggested “scholarships to train professionals to help reduce this gap”.

The experts also suggested incorporating mental health services into healthcare insurance coverage.

“While government centres receive some relief, private practitioners are left burdened. Extending tax benefits to private practitioners is crucial, given the high operational costs for the average therapist. In addition to acknowledging the financial difficulties experienced by private practitioners, this change would help lower the cost and increase public accessibility to mental health care,” Kapoor said.

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“This will help our citizens access mental healthcare without burdening them financially,” added Mohindroo.

–IANS

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Sensex ends lower ahead of Union Budget 2024-25

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Sensex ends lower ahead of Union Budget 2024-25

Sensex ends lower ahead of Union Budget 2024-25

Mumbai, July 22 (IANS) Indian equity indices closed in red on Monday following profit booking before the Union Budget 2024-25 which will be presented in the Parliament on Tuesday.

At close, Sensex was down 102 points or 0.13 per cent at 80,502, while the Nifty fell 21 points or 0.09 per cent to 24,509.

According to the Economic Survey which was presented in the Parliament on Monday, the GDP growth rate has been estimated at 6.5-7 per cent for the current financial year.

Buying was seen in the midcap and smallcap stocks on Monday.

The Nifty Midcap 100 index closed 716 points or 1.28 per cent higher at 56,624 points, while the Nifty Smallcap 100 index closed 165 points or 0.90 per cent higher at 18,563 points.

NTPC, UltraTech Cement, HDFC Bank, M&M, Tata Steel, Power Grid, Tata Motors, Sun Pharma, L&T, Maruti Suzuki, and Infosys were the top gainers in the Sensex, while Wipro, Reliance, Kotak Mahindra Bank, ITC, and SBI were the top losers on Monday.

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Among the sectoral indices, Auto, PSU Bank, Fin Service, Pharma, Metal, and Infra were the major laggards, while IT, FMCG, Realty, and Energy were the major gainers.

As per the experts, the conservative economic growth forecast for FY25, presented in the Economic Survey, has introduced some spikes in volatility ahead of the Budget. Further, the below-estimated Q1 results from certain index heavyweights added to apprehensions of a slowdown in earnings growth in FY25.

–IANS

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7 per cent GDP growth is doable for India despite global challenges: CEA Nageswaran

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7 per cent GDP growth is doable for India despite global challenges: CEA Nageswaran

7 per cent GDP growth is doable for India despite global challenges: CEA Nageswaran

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Achieving a 7 per cent GDP growth rate “is doable” for India despite the global environment has become more challenging since the beginning of the year, Chief Economic Adviser V. Anantha Nageswaran said on Monday after the Economic Survey was released.

“We were more confident of a 7 per cent GDP growth when we wrote the interim economic survey in January. Since then, the global environment has become even more polarised. Given that, we feel 7 per cent is doable, but yet we want to be not necessarily cautious but prudent,” he said on the 6.5 to 7 per cent growth rate that has been projected for India’s GDP growth in the Economic Survey.

“We are not pessimistic, we are optimistic about growth. But we are mindful of challenges — about the way the monsoon has progressed,” he added.

He said that the agriculture sector still carries a huge potential to drive growth, allied sectors need to be encouraged and land consolidation is needed.

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“We are facing a very challenging global environment, along with climate change, so we need to make sure we pursue all possible approaches without any ideological orientation,” he said.

The Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) anticipates improved performance in the farm sector for the financial year 2024-25.

Furthermore, a widespread acceleration in industrial growth is also expected. He noted that the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes are achieving significant results as of May 2024. These schemes are gaining traction and demonstrating considerable progress in critical sectors like electronics and pharmaceuticals, with reported investments surpassing Rs 1.28 lakh crore. However, the idle capacity in China and low-skill manufactured goods can pose risks to India’s capital formation.

There is a need to balance between the import of goods and FDI, he remarked. He was of the view that choosing the FDI strategy “appears more advantageous than relying on trade” as it can arrest the growing trade deficit India has with China.

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Nageswaran further stated that India’s corporate sector needs to ensure that the deployment of technology does not hurt the labour and capital share of income. It is necessary for India’s IT and non-IT sectors to find the right balance between the deployment of technology and labour, he added. He highlighted the need to create 8 million jobs per annum and formalising the workforce in the Indian economy.

He pointed out the fact that the number of patents filed per year has gone up 17 times from 2015, reflecting the surge in innovations that were taking place in the country.

Nageswaran also mentioned the country’s lopsided distribution of enterprises with too many micro industries, some large, but with a huge gap in the middle which needs to be plugged to raise the share of manufacturing in GDP. “The clue to sustaining growth lies in the nuts and bolts of deregulation in the manufacturing sector,” he added.

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He also said that it is no longer about big-ticket reforms, “but the groundwork, the nuts and bolts of governance that we need to get right in order to drive growth forward”.

–IANS

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Major allocations likely for six guarantees in Telangana’s full budget

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Creating 78.5 lakh jobs annually till 2030 signals Centre’s resolve: Assocham on Eco Survey

Creating 78.5 lakh jobs annually till 2030 signals Centre’s resolve: Assocham on Eco Survey

Hyderabad, July 22 (IANS) The Congress government in Telangana may make substantial allocations of funds for implementation of its six guarantees in its first full-fledged Budget for 2024-25 to be presented in the Assembly on July 25.

Deputy Chief Minister Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, who also holds the finance portfolio, will be making Budget proposals in accordance with the state government’s priorities.

Official sources said the Budget size may be more or less Rs 2.75 lakh crore as was proposed in the vote-on-account budget presented early this year.

It was on February 10 that Dy CM Vikramarka presented a vote-on-account Budget of Rs 2.75 lakh crore for 2024-25, down from Rs 2.90 lakh crore in the previous financial year.

He had pegged the revenue and capital expenditure at Rs 2.01 lakh crore and Rs 29,669 crore respectively.

In FY24, they were at Rs 2.11 lakh crore and Rs 37,525 crore respectively. While revenue expenditure in the full-fledged budget may remain unchanged, the capital expenditure is likely to be enhanced.

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For implementing six guarantees given in the recent Assembly elections, the government allocated Rs 53,196 crore.

The Finance Department has almost completed the process of budget preparation. It received proposals from ministries and there were consultations over these.

The Cabinet meeting to be presided over by Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy will approve the budget on July 25 morning and it will be presented in the Assembly the same day.

The finance department will get some clarity on the budget proposals after the presentation of the Union budget by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament on Tuesday.

The proposals will be finalised after taking into account revenue in the first three months and funds and grants from the Centre.

Sources said some changes are likely in the allocations for centrally-sponsored schemes and also estimates with regard to taxes to be received from the Centre.

The allocations in the vote-on-account budget for implementation of six guarantees were based on preliminary estimates.

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The government had allocated Rs 4,084 crore for free travel by women in buses of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TGSRTC).

The government had also allocated Rs 1,065 crore for Rajiv Arogyasri, under which the Congress government enhanced the health insurance coverage for Below Poverty Line families from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.

These were the only two guarantees whose implementation was launched before presentation of the vote-on-account budget.

For the 200 units per month free power scheme, the finance minister had allocated Rs 2,418 crore. The scheme was launched from March and hence this allocation may go up in the full-fledged budget.

For the Indiramma Indlu or housing scheme, the government had allocated Rs 7,740 crore in the vote-on-account budget.

Similarly, for the Rs 500 gas cylinder scheme, Rs 723 crore were provided.

The government had allocated Rs 10,000 crore for waiver of crop loans up to Rs 2 lakh. The scheme was launched last week.

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For loans of up to Rs 1 lakh, the government has already released over Rs 6,098 crore. The government has announced that it will spend Rs 31,000 crore by the end of August to fully implement the scheme.

In the vote-on-account Budget, the government had earmarked Rs 15,000 crore for the Rythu Bharosa scheme. Under this scheme, which is yet to be launched Rs 15,000 will be provided to farmers as investment support for every acre annually.

The state government had made available Rs 14,800 crore for social security pensions under the Cheyutha scheme. It also allocated Rs 7,230 crore to implement the scheme of Rs 2,500 per month financial assistance for every woman.

As job creation was one of the major promises of the Congress, Rs 1,000 crore were allocated for recruitments.

Substantial allocations are also likely for the Musi River beautification project, expansion of Hyderabad Metro, Skill University and other projects of the Congress government.

–IANS

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