Sikh passengers travelling by air are allowed to carry a kirpan provided the blade does not exceed six inches and the total length of it is no more than nine inches, the union cabinet decided on Thursday.
The decision was based on a recommendation from the National Commission of Minorities (NCM), Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Kirpan is a ceremonial weapon every Sikh is mandated to carry according to the religion's tenets.
The cabinet also decided to ask the state and central police forces to ensure adequate representation of minorities. The decision was also in line with an NCM recommendation.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), which also met, approved initial public offerings (IPOs) of three state-run energy corporations—Powergrid Corporation of India, Power Finance Corporation of India and Rural Electrification Corporation of India.
The three organisations will increase their equity by 24 per cent, 10 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively.
The CCEA also approved a Rs 5.52 billion (Rs 552 crore) revival package for Nagaland Pulp and Paper Company, the only public sector unit in the northeastern state.
It approved a proposal of the road transport ministry to build 603 kilometres of national highways in the northeast under the Special Accelerated Road Development Programme.
These roads will be built in Assam, Meghalaya, Nagalan and Sikkim. The proposal was earlier approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security.
The CCEA also approved a proposal of the US hotel major Hilton to invest in a joint venture with DLF Infrastructure. Hilton will be bringing foreign equity of 26 per cent amounting to Rs 6.43 billion (Rs 643 crores).