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.