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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Parliament House in New Delhi, India, July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi


By Rupam Jain

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will appoint nine new ministers to his cabinet on Sunday in an effort to speed up development work as he comes under pressure to deliver on election promises in the final 20 months of his term.

Economic growth slowed to its weakest pace in three years, data this week showed, and promises to boost manufacturing and create tens of thousands of jobs for one of the world's youngest workforce have failed to take off.

Modi is also facing renewed criticism for his shock move to ban high-value bank notes last year after central bank data showed that 99 percent of the abolished currency was back in the system.

Four of the nine new ministers in the Modi cabinet are retired bureaucrats including K J Alphons, known as Delhi's demolition man for launching a crackdown on illegal structures in the capital despite facing intense political pressure.

Another is a former police commissioner and a diplomat, reflecting Modi's faith in accomplished bureaucrats to deliver on his goals rather than politicians who are often untested in governance.

He has often dealt directly with officials especially on his big initiatives such as developing 100 smart cities, bank accounts for millions of citizens and cleaning up the country, bypassing the ministers.

A senior bureaucrat in Modi's office said the selection of new ministers was based on "passion, proficiency, professional and political acumen" to deliver on his vision of "a new India".

Six ministers were dropped, some to take over party duties and others for poor performance, the official said.

There was no immediate word on whether Modi would appoint a new defence minister since Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is holding that charge and has said he would like to focus on the economic management.

Elections are due in 2019 and Modi remains the front runner.

Newly appointed President Ram Nath Kovind will administer the oath of office to the new ministers at 10:30 IST (0600 BST) his office said in a Twitter post.

(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Himani Sarkar)

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