Modi expands cabinet, expected to name new defence minister

There was no official confirmation of which posts were filled, but former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar was tipped to become defence minister.

Modi expands cabinet, expected to name new defence minister

World Bulletin/News Desk

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi beefed up his cabinet on Sunday, adding four ministers in a move likely to free Finance Minister Arun Jaitley from the defence portfolio to focus on the budget and reforms to revive the economy.

Including junior ministers, Modi added a total of 21 new names into his team. There was no official confirmation of which posts were filled, but former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar was tipped to become defence minister.

Details were expected later on Sunday or early Monday of which portfolios would go to which of the new ministers. The newcomers are from a wider range of India's states, increasing regional representation in New Delhi.

Jaitley has been running both defence and finance since Modi took office six months ago, leading to criticism that neither of the key departments could be properly led.

India's outdated armed forces face shortages of everything from ammunition to fighter jets and submarines as it seeks to catch up with newly assertive neighbour China, which is arming itself quickly.

Jaitley has a new bench of officials in the finance ministry including one of the world's leading economists, Arvind Subramanian, as an adviser. Together they must revive investment, growth and job creation in a country that adds some 10 million people to the workforce every year.

The next budget is due in February and investors are hoping for bold decisions on the economy.

The government has so far taken a series of steps to make life easier for businesses and has reduced subsidies on fuel, spurring a rally in stocks and bond markets after the longest period of low growth since the 1980s. But investment in the economy has not picked up, and industrial output is flat.

Last Mod: 09 Kasım 2014, 16:23
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