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Mission AI gets Cabinet nod, dearness allowance hiked too


The Union cabinet on Thursday approved the India AI mission with an outlay of Rs 10,372 crore for five years. Union Minister Piyush Goyal said that the approved corpus will be used to create a large computing infrastructure.

The supercomputing capacity, comprising over 10,000 GPUs (graphics processing units), will be made available to various stakeholders for creating an AI ecosystem.

The minister, briefing reporters said, that the decision will enable startups, academia, researchers and industry to get access to the AI supercomputing infrastructure that is being established under the India AI Mission.

As part of this, a National Data Management Officer will also be set up to coordinate with various government departments and ministries to improve the quality of data and make them available for AI development and deployment.

The other decision, taken by the cabinet ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, was to hike the “Mahangai-Bhatta” (Dearness Allowance) by 4% to over 50 lakh employees of the central government and 68 lakh pensioners.

Another possible poll-driven decision saw the Centre approving the extension of Rs 300 per LPG cylinder subsidy to beneficiaries of the Ujjwala Yojna which provides free LPG connections to poor women. This bonanza for poor women availing the benefits of Ujjwala Yojna came on the eve of International Women Day.

This was extended for another year with effect from April 1.

According to official information, the Modi government had in October last year hiked the subsidy from Rs 200 per 14.2-kg cylinders for up to 12 refills per year to Rs 300 per cylinder. Notably, this was done ahead of assembly elections in five states. But as the Rs 300 per cylinder subsidy for the current fiscal was to end on March 31, it got extended for a year.

The decision is aimed at benefiting over 10 crore PM Ujjwala Yojna beneficiaries with a subsidy of Rs 300 per 14.2 kg cylinders. Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman hailed this as a welcome decision of the cabinet on the eve of International Women's Day, adding that total expenditure for 2024-25 on it will be around Rs 12,000 crore.

The cabinet also approved a Rs 10,037-crore new industrial development scheme called ‘UNNATI’ ( Uttar Poorva Transformative Industrialization Scheme), 2024 for northeast states. According to an official statement, the scheme is aimed at generating “gainful employment” to ensure proper lead to the area's overall socio-economic development.

It said that the government will provide incentives to investors for setting up new units or undertaking significant expansion of existing units under this scheme.

In another significant decision, besides all this, the Cabinet also hiked the MSP for raw jute by Rs 285 to Rs 5,335 per quintal for the 2024-25 season. The minister claimed that the decision will greatly benefit farmers in eastern states, especially West Bengal.

As per an official statement, the government in 2024-25 has procured a record amount of more than 6.24 lakh bales of raw jute at the cost of Rs 524.32 crore, benefiting around 1.65 lakh farmers. “The MSP for 2024-25 will ensure a return of 64.8 % over the all-India weighted average cost of production,” said an official statement.

It further said that the decision was based on recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).