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India PM Inducts Younger Ministers in Cabinet

  • VOA News

Ashwini Kumar, left, a junior minister, greets Pallam Raju, who moved from Defense to Human Resources Development ministry at the swearing-in ceremony, New Delhi, India, October 28, 2012.

Ashwini Kumar, left, a junior minister, greets Pallam Raju, who moved from Defense to Human Resources Development ministry at the swearing-in ceremony, New Delhi, India, October 28, 2012.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reshuffled his Cabinet Sunday in a bid to overhaul his government's image ahead of the next general elections in 2014.

The new Cabinet has a more youthful face after several senior ministers resigned their posts, making room for the elevation of junior ministers.

The changes come as Singh's Congress Party has been trying to garner new political support. Last month it lost a key ally from the ruling coalition after approving two unpopular economic policies: the allowing of foreign supermarket chains in India and a large hike in diesel prices. The government is now effectively a minority.

Also, corruption allegations have plagued the Congress Party over the past few years. A national auditor report claimed the government sold coal fields to private companies without transparency and competitive bidding between 2004 and 2009, causing the government to lose out on some $34 billion.

In 2010, auditors said the government lost up to $40 billion because mobile phone licenses were sold at cut-rate prices to benefit a few companies. A former telecom minister and more than a dozen other defendants were accused in the scandal.

There also were allegations of widespread graft during the 2010 Commonwealth Games hosted by India.
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