Posts tagged ‘Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu’


Indian rail projects outweigh rivalry before Modi visit to China | Reuters

Beijing has been pushing India to accelerate work on a multi-billion dollar rail link from New Delhi to Chennai ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit to China this week, as the Asian giants put economic ties before regional rivalries.

China, which is conducting a feasibility study into a $36 billion bullet train project from the capital in the north to Chennai in the south, has asked for work to begin on a pilot project covering part of the route, officials said.

The two sides have also agreed to speed up implementation of a shorter high-speed rail corridor from Chennai to Bengaluru, as China seeks to cash in on Modi’s vision of modernizing a creaking train system that 25 million people use daily.

Indian Railways Logo

Indian Railways Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Such cooperation could help ease tensions between the neighbors caused by a Himalayan border dispute and Chinese naval forays into the Indian Ocean as well as India’s strategic tie-ups with Japan and the United States.

Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to address the border issue, a major irritant that overshadowed Xi’s visit to New Delhi last year and has proved impossible to resolve despite 13 years of negotiations.

But progress on the economic front is more likely, officials said, as China eyes a greater share of India’s $2 trillion economy. Thanks in part to a statistical revision, India is now the world’s fastest growing major economy, outstripping China.

Modi, who arrives in China on Thursday, appears happy to encourage such investment, despite reservations among India’s powerful security community which has not forgotten a brief border war the countries fought in 1962.

“Modi is abandoning the old approach to China,” said C. Raja Mohan, an influential Indian foreign policy analyst.

“He has recognized that India can’t construct a serious business relationship with China, the world’s second largest economy and a major exporter of capital, by giving the security establishment a veto over economic policy,” he added.


China’s ambassador to India, Le Yucheng, told CNN-IBN television that deals worth $10 billion were expected to be signed during Modi’s three-day visit.

He urged the Indian government to focus on cutting red tape to ease investment flows, the channel said in a press release.

During Xi’s visit to India last year, China announced $20 billion in investments over five years, including setting up two industrial parks.

Since then progress has been slow, in part because of the difficulties Modi has had in getting political approval for easier land acquisition laws.

Only a fifth of the necessary land has been acquired for a $5 billion industrial park in the western city of Pune that the two sides announced last year, said a Chinese official.

In Modi’s home state of Gujarat, only 28 percent of the land has been purchased for a proposed $1.8 billion Chinese-built industrial park in Vadodara.

That is not likely to blunt China’s appetite for investments in India, according to experts.

“China’s attitude toward this investment is extremely positive,” said Ma Jiali, executive deputy director of the China Reform Forum’s Centre for Strategic Studies and an India expert.

via Indian rail projects outweigh rivalry before Modi visit to China | Reuters.


A New Look for Indian Railways – India Real Time – WSJ

Indian Railways is trying to get a makeover.

“We want to improve passenger amenities,” said Suresh Prabhu, India’s new minister for railways, via a video conference at an event organized by the Asia Society in Mumbai Wednesday.

India’s nationalized rail network carries around 30 million passengers a day and has a budget for 2014/15 of 654 billion rupees ($10 billion.)

So what will the new railways look like? Mr. Prabhu gave some clues Wednesday.

Better food: Train travelers have long grumbled about the quality of food served on Indian trains including watery dal (lentil soup) and thick rotis (Indian bread.)

Mr. Prabhu said he’s considering a plan to set up base kitchens that will make good quality food to supply trains.

He’s also exploring an option to tie up with restaurants along train routes, so that commuters can order food from those restaurants, and the food would be delivered onto the train by Railway staff.

Some private websites have lately started  offering this facility on their own, such as, and

Mobile ticket booking: The Indian Railways’ website, which allows travelers to book tickets online, is one of the most-frequently visited websites in India.

Now, Indian Railways wants to introduce an option for travelers to be able to book train tickets on their cellphones. Mr. Prabhu didn’t clarify if he was referring to a new app for this booking.

He said Wednesday that a technical glitch has delayed the launch, but passengers can expect it soon.

Cleanliness: The Railways are looking to improve the quality of toilets and waiting spaces at train stations, said Mr. Prabhu. “We also want to improve the coaches,” he said. The plan is to retrofit existing train coaches and set up a factory for making new coaches, he added.

“In the next few months we should be able to put in place a complete blueprint” to achieve these goals without denting the rail finances, said Mr. Prabhu.

via A New Look for Indian Railways – India Real Time – WSJ.


Who’s Who in Narendra Modi’s New Cabinet in India – India Real Time – WSJ

In his first Cabinet reshuffle late Sunday, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi expanded the number of ministers in his government from 44 to 65.

That takes him just six shy of his predecessor Manmohan Singh’s coterie before his Congress party was ousted in national elections earlier this year by Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party that campaigned with a mantra for “minimum government, maximum governance.”

The enlargement nudges up the number of women ministers to eight from seven and gives key posts to members of parliament from states that are due for local elections in the coming months.

Here are the main moves, promotions, demotions and new arrivals in the modified Cabinet.

Major Cabinet Minister Moves

Suresh Prabhu becomes railway minister replacing Sadananda Gowda. Mr. Prabhu, 61, a former member of the Shiv Sena party, resigned from the regional party to join the Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday. A chartered accountant by profession and also a law graduate, Mr. Prabhu served as a cabinet minister in the previous BJP-led National Democratic Alliance for six years, handling key portfolios such as power, heavy industries and public enterprises and environment and forests among others. Mr. Prabhu has often been described by many as that “un-common whiff of much needed fresh air on the horizon of Indian public life,” according to his official website.

Manohar G. Parrikar is the new defense minister. Mr. Parrikar quit as Goa’s Chief Minister last week and takes charge of the defense ministry from Arun Jaitley.

A technocrat-turned-politician, Mr. Parrikar joined the BJP in 1988 and went on to become the chief minister of Goa for the first time in 2000. During his time as chief minister, he was credited with improving the western state’s infrastructure  overseeing the construction of major bridges, building bus stands and improving the road network across the state. “Known to be a man of action and principles, Mr. Parrikar is known as Mr. Clean in Goa,” his website said. As the new defense minister, Mr. Parrikar faces the daunting task of closing the country’s pending defense deals.

Arun Jaitley was relieved of the defense portfolio but was given an additional charge of information and broadcasting ministry previously held by Prakash Javadekar. Mr. Jaitley also continues as the head of the finance and corporate affairs ministries. A lawyer by profession, the BJP leader is known to be media-savvy.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan was deprived of his health and family welfare ministry in the shuffle and shifted to a low-key science and technology, Earth sciences ministry. Dr. Vardhan ran for the post of Delhi chief minister in elections in December but was beaten to the position by Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal who stepped down only a few weeks in to the job.

Prime Minister Modi remains in charge of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, the Department of Atomic Energy Department of Space; all important policy issues and all other portfolios not allocated to any minister, according to the press information bureau.

more on Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State …

via Who’s Who in Narendra Modi’s New Cabinet in India – India Real Time – WSJ.

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