India’s PM Modi reshuffles cabinet as economy slips

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday reshuffled some of his key minister’s portfolios to refurbish his government’s image, which has been dented by falling economic indicators.

Modi named Suresh Prabhu as the new commerce and industry minister and Piyush Goyal the railways minister. Dharmendra Pradhan was promoted as oil and gas minister. Modi dropped half a dozen ministers for failing performance.

A big surprise was 58-year-old Nirmala Sitharaman’s appointment as the country’s defence minister, an elevation from the post of junior commerce minister. She is replacing Arun Jaitley in the new cabinet

India’s economic growth rate has fallen four quarters in a row to 5.7 per cent in April-June, down from 7.9 per cent in the same quarter last year. Exports have stagnated for the past three years.

“It’s not easy going as far as the economy is concerned. There is a slump in the economic growth rate and industry and the farmers’ unrest over fall in incomes,” said Neerja Chowdhury, a political analyst.

Modi had promised 10 million new jobs every year when he came to power in 2014. According to government statistics, job creation for 2015 and 2016 stood at 155,000 and 200,310, respectively.

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