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India's Singh sworn inas PM

INDIAN Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was sworn in yesterday for a second five-year term with expectations his strengthened left-of-center coalition could both reform a slowing economy and help millions of poor.

Singh's Congress party-led coalition has a stronger parliamentary majority than his first administration, meaning the government could last its full five-year term.

Congress is likely to push reforms such as raising the foreign investment limit in insurance and opening up the pension sector to spur growth in Asia's third-largest economy.

With the fiscal deficit running at its highest since the early 1990s, the coalition will have to decide whether to spend more on social programs that helped Congress win the election.

India face challenges to upgrade its creaky infrastructure, including crowded airports and backlogged ports, to help the trillion-dollar economy.

President Pratibha Patil administered the oath of office to Singh, 76, at the presidential palace.

Nineteen other members of Singh's Cabinet, including Congress stalwart Pranab Mukherjee, a party old-timer who is tipped to be the new finance minister, were sworn in.

Rahul Gandhi, the fourth generation member of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty, was not among them, despite reports he could be given a ministerial job.


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