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India's Modi Expands Cabinet

  • VOA News

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, eleventh from left, poses for photographs with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, twelfth left, Vice President Hamid Ansari, tenth left and the newly sworn in ministers at the presidential palace in New Delhi, India, Sunday,

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, eleventh from left, poses for photographs with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, twelfth left, Vice President Hamid Ansari, tenth left and the newly sworn in ministers at the presidential palace in New Delhi, India, Sunday,

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expanded his Cabinet to give more focus on improving the country's economy.

Twenty-one new ministers took the oath of office at a brief ceremony Sunday at the presidential palace in New Delhi.

The highest ranking appointment is Manohar Parrikar, a regional leader, who is now the new defense minister.

Arun Jaitley, who had held both the defense and the finance posts, is now free to focus on reviving the economy as finance minister.

Modi, who took office in May with a massive mandate in the elections, now heads a 66-member council of ministers, with 26 ministers holding Cabinet rank.

Business leaders have welcomed the Cabinet expansion, saying it signals the government's intention of accelerating reforms.

It was the promise of pulling the economy out of a deep slump that swept Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party government into power five months ago.

Modi, who won with the slogan of "minimum government, maximum governance" began his term with a lean Cabinet, but observers say many ministers were over-burdened. The Cabinet expansion comes as parliament prepares to convene later this month.

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