The Great Debate (India)

Has the Railway Budget met expectations?

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Mamata Banerjee’s railway budget for 2009-10 appeals to the common man. She has introduced cheaper tickets for the poor and kept passenger and freight tariffs unchanged, bringing cheer to the millions who use the world’s largest rail network daily.

11Banerjee, who took over as the new railway minister, underscores the Congress party-led government’s focus on “inclusive growth” after it was re-elected in May.

In her budget speech on Friday, she said there were plans to introduce 57 new and 12 non-stop trains, upgrade 50 stations to international standards, have air-conditioned double-decker trains, build a 1,000 mw power plant to power electric locomotives, and resume issuance of tax-free IRFC bonds.

The country’s rail network carries more than 18 million passengers and more than 2 million tonnes of freight every day on a backbone of outdated technology. Do you think the railways can execute this daunting task and make train travel in India more comfortable?

Is the budget over-rated for our personal finances?

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By iTrust Financial Advisors (www.iTrust.in)
When it comes to our personal finances, the annual budget is not really worth that much attention. Every year expectations build up that major tectonic shifts will happen that will impact our personal finances.

INDIA/This year is no different. In fact, the expectations are even higher given the outcome in the general elections. The usual items populate the wish list of changes that are being talked about by pundits.

Will court ruling on gay sex change perceptions?

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INDIAThe Delhi High Court’s ruling that homosexual sex among consenting adults is not a crime is expected to boost an increasingly vocal pro-gay lobby in India that says a British-era law banning gay sex is a violation of human rights.

The current law bans “sex against the order of nature”, and is widely interpreted to mean homosexual sex in India.

Nilekani: Infosys’ loss or government’s gain?

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India’s Silicon Valley is saying goodbye to Nandan Nilekani, the engineer-entrepreneur who co-founded Infosys Technologies and helped put India on the global IT map.

A statemeINDIA-PEPSICO/nt from the country’s No. 2 software exporter on Thursday said Nilekani has been invited by the prime minister to head the government agency Unique Identification Authority of India in the rank of a cabinet minister.

Can Pakistan take on the Lashkar-e-Taiba?

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If Pakistan’s battle against the Taliban seems difficult, a much tougher challenge lies ahead: deciding what to do about the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group it once nurtured to fight India in Kashmir.PAKISTAN/

For security analysts, the two questions are whether the army and ISI can close down the LeT, and if they want to do so — the assumption being that this would have to be done by the country’s powerful military rather than the civilian government.

What would you do if you were the FM?

The task before the finance minister is tricky as the Congress-led government gears up to present the annual budget for 2009-10 on July 6.

Reuters India asks its readers to don the FM’s cap and tell us what shape they would give to the budget to keep a country of over 1 billion people happy.

Should Rahul Gandhi join the cabinet?

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Prime Minister-elect Manmohan Singh has said he will try and persuade Rahul Gandhi, heir apparent to the Congress party, to take on a cabinet position in the new government. Rahul Gandhi

Gandhi, whose father, grandmother and great grandfather were all prime ministers, had become the most visible campaigner of Congress in the month-long election to win over Indian youth as well as millions of poor villagers.

Is this the end of the road for Advani?

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Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lal Krishna Advani’s prime ministerial ambitions were crushed when the ruling Congress-led coalition defied predictions to sweep the 2009 general election.

LAL KRISHNA ADVANIPrime Minister Manmohan Singh’s coalition was only about 11 seats short of an outright majority from the 543 seats at stake, according to election commission data.

from India Insight:

Women wield power in election wrangling

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With the wrangling for allies in earnest ahead of election results due Saturday, women leaders hold an inordinate amount of power in deciding who will form the new Indian government.

Women leaders have always had a role in the rough and tumble of Indian politics, from Sarojini Naidu and Annie Besant in the independence struggle to Indira Gandhi, the second woman in the world to become prime minister.

Congress or BJP – who will win?

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Poll symbols of the BJP (L) and the Congress

With just hours to go before the counting of votes, several exit polls have shown that India’s ruling Congress-led coalition is slightly ahead of the BJP-led alliance.

The probable lack of a clear winner has stoked concerns that the coalition that emerges after a month of elections may be unstable.

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