Delivering a budget for the masses instead of India's classes, Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, proposed waiving loans held by small farmers (600 billion rupees) and pledged higher spending on health and education to spread the benefits of an economic boom beyond the cities to rural voters.
India has a population of 1.1 billion and 60 percent or more live and work in rural areas.Due to risks from turbulence on global financial markets and rising oil, metals, wheat and rice prices worldwide, Chidambaram said while he was confident India's economy would grow by 8.8 percent in the fiscal year ending on March 31 a fall from a scorching 9.6 percent in 2006/07, its fastest pace in 18 years.
While he vowed to keep rising inflation under check, Chidambaram increased defence spending by 10 percent in 2008/09. He also increased urban infrastructure spending to 68.7 billion rupees and Rural infrastructure spending will be 140 billion rupees further, Government spending on national highways will be 130 billion rupees.
Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Railway Minister of the reigning UPA government has done it again – with a Rs Rs 25,000 crore ($2.5 billion) cash surplus – he's made a success story of the Indian Railways . He's proved that low cost airlines are not a major threat to India's Railways.
Kolkata is twinned with Guangzhou, in China’s Pearl River Delta, and direct flights between the two cities have just resumed. Read more here.
The popular powerpoint presentation given by Chris Devonshire-Ellis recently explaining the developing trade routes between China and India can be accessed here.