On the first day of assuming office in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party government headed by Akhilesh Yadav announced a slew of populist measures for the students and the unemployed, including computer tablets and laptops free of cost for high school and Intermediate pass students and allowance for the jobless.

These decisions were taken at the first Cabinet meeting on Thursday. The meeting was presided over by Mr. Yadav, who was earlier in the day sworn in as the Chief Minister.

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The unemployed above the age of 35, with a minimum educational qualification of high school, registered in the employment exchanges will be entitled to an unemployment dole of Rs. 1,000 a month till they are employed.

Chief Secretary Anup Mishra told journalists that there were around 9 lakh registered unemployed aged above 35 and about Rs. 1,100 crore would be spent annually on this measure.

Mr. Mishra said about Rs. 3,000 crore would be spent on giving tablets and laptops to all Class 10 and 12 pass students of madrasas, the Madhyamik Shiksha Board, the ICSE and the CBSE.

Grant for Muslim girls

In addition, Muslim girls who pass Class 10 will be given a grant of Rs. 30,000 for their education and marriage. The Chief Secretary said there were around 1 lakh Muslim girls and the scheme would entail an annual expenditure of Rs. 3,000 crore.

To save the Muslim ‘qabristans' (graveyards) from illegal occupation, boundary walls would be constructed and provision for the same would be made in next year's budget.

CCTV cameras would be installed at all the crossings in Lucknow to streamline traffic and strengthen security.

Mr. Mishra said the Cabinet decisions would be implemented from the 2011-12 financial year.

“Democracy restored”

Mr. Yadav said democracy had been restored in the State by the Samajwadi Party after five years of injustice and corruption. Apart from fulfilling the promises made in the party's election manifesto, Mr. Yadav said priority would be accorded to maintenance of law and order and improving the condition of the farmers. “Till now we criticised others, now it is our responsibility to uphold the rule of law,” Mr. Yadav said.

Son of the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party president, Mulayam Singh, Mr. Yadav was administered the oath of office and secrecy by the Governor, B.L. Joshi, at 11.30 a.m. The swearing-in ceremony was held on the La Martiniere College grounds in the presence of his father, wife, children and other family members.

Nineteen Cabinet Ministers and 28 Ministers of State were also sworn in.

Janata darbar

Addressing his maiden press conference at his 5, Kalidas Marg official residence after assuming charge, Mr. Yadav said the “Janata darbar” would be revived and the assurances given to the youth and the students would be fulfilled. The rush at the employment exchanges by the educated unemployed to get themselves registered underscored the magnitude of unemployment in Uttar Pradesh.

Mr. Yadav discounted the possibility of a resource crunch to hand out laptops, tablets, and the unemployment allowance to the jobless. “When funds could be arranged for building statues and parks, this time round, money was needed for computers, laptops and allowance. Arrangement will be made,” Mr. Yadav declared.

Old faces

The Cabinet Ministers chosen by the Chief Minister were along expected lines and were in the previous Samajwadi Party regime headed by Mr. Mulayam Singh. They are Mohammad Azam Khan, senior-most Minister and virtually the number two in the Ministry; Shivpal Singh Yadav; Ahmed Hasan; Waqar Ahmed Shah; Raja Mahendra Aridaman Singh; Anand Singh; Ambika Chaudhary; Raghuraj Pratap Singh “Raja Bhaiyya”; Balram Yadav; Avdhesh Prasad; Om Prakash Singh; Paras Nath Yadav; Govind Chaudhary; Durga Prasad Yadav; Brahma Shankar Tripathi; Kameshwar Upadhyaya; Raja Ram Pandey; Raj Kishore Singh and Shiv Kumar Beria.

The swearing-in ceremony was attended by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal; Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal; CPI(M) leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury; the former U.P. Governors, Moti Lal Vora and Romesh Bhandari; MP Jaya Bachchan and industrialist Anil Ambani.