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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 598,966 515,000  481,400 12
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 530 480 470 160
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 046 - (27/11/07)

RIOTS IN KOLKATA
At least 50 people were injured and hundreds of children were trapped in schools after protests ravaged the Indian metropolis of Kolkata. The protests were being held against killings by the communist led West Bengal government and its supporters on helpless farmers in the Nandigram district. Most of the farmers caught up in the clashes around a cluster of villages in Nandigram were Muslims, and local leaders and media said Muslim groups were behind many of Wednesday's protests. "Mostly poor Muslim farmers were at the receiving end in Nandigram, when the communists forced their way into Nandigram and people are understandably angry," Siddiqullah Chowdhury, a Muslim religious group leader said. The All India Minority Forum, which organized the demonstration, said protests were also aimed against West Bengal giving refuge to a controversial Bangladeshi Muslim woman author accused of criticizing Islam in her books. West Bengal's ruling communists, lost control of Nandigram, after trying unsuccessfully to make villagers vacate land for a chemicals complex. 

This month, communist party cadres forced their way back in spurring the violence. 

The current struggle points to several matters which go beyond the issue of violence. The larger questions encapsulate the state government's violation of individual rights by using farming land for industry. It also displays the fact that Hindu-Muslim relations continue to be volatile in certain sections of India. Moreover, much of the Hindu-Muslim violence has been orchestrated by corrupt and inept governments such as the current one in West Bangladesh. Bad policies crafted by incompetent leaders have been the root of Hindu-Muslim turmoil in recent years. Curfew was imposed in Kolkata for a day but things have returned to normality. Police arrested 68 people for the riots and there were no signs of renewed violence on Thursday. But many schools closed early as attendance was thin. The army was called in for the first time in 10 years to quell the disturbance. This too has been a major point of embarrassment for the communist led West Bengal government which has failed to curb violence amongst its own cadres, thereby making it dependent on the Indian army. 

INDIA-JAPAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT 
Japan and India have agreed to work towards the completion of a bilateral free trade agreement by mid-2008, moving up their previous target date by six months. Japanese Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made the decision in talks on the sidelines of a regional summit in Singapore. Tokyo and New Delhi. They hope the deal will enable an expansion in bilateral trade that currently stands at a mere eight billion dollars, far behind India's trade with the United States or China. However, trade levels are now growing currently at more than 20 percent a year. Japan is seeking cuts to India's 100 percent tariffs on vehicle imports and the creation of common rules on investment and services. India is pressing for deregulation of Japanese customs inspections, cuts to tariffs on shrimp imports, and creation of flexible visa rules for Indian medical care workers and engineers. 

INDIA-ASEAN NEGOTIATIONS
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is pushing for an early resolution of some of the key problems which are holding up the India-ASEAN free trade agreement. In his address at the India-ASEAN summit, Singh emphasized that exports of ASEAN countries to India have grown at a phenomenal rate of 65% last year, and this demonstrates that India is a willing partner in the Asian integration process. When India began the tariff negotiations with ASEAN two years ago, tariffs on sensitive products like Palm oil, tea, coffee and pepper ranged between 80% and 100%. India is now trying to persuade ASEAN nations, especially Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, that it could cut tariffs on these items to 45% by 2018. Officials said Malaysia and Indonesia are showing signs of coming around to appreciate India's sensitivity on these agricultural items, especially from the standpoint of millions of subsistence farmers. It is also possible that by 2018 India could autonomously reduce the tariffs on these agriculture items even more if rapid industrialization leads to shift of labor from agriculture to industry. For instance, India began its negotiation when tariffs on palm oil were over 90%, but has autonomously brought down the tariffs to keep inflation under control. 
Otherwise, India has made a generous offer of bringing down import tariff to zero on 80% of the tariff lines by 2018. On this, there is no dispute and this part of the agreement stands sealed. 

EAST ASIA SUMMIT AND GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
Discussing the subject of climate change, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has offered to place a "cap" on the "per-person greenhouse gas emissions" at a level equivalent to a "cap" that the developed countries would be willing to agree upon. At the East Asia Summit (EAS) Singh said his "first priority is India's economic growth" and climate change issues would be looked at through that prism. India's greenhouse gas emissions were now "much smaller" than those of the developed countries, especially when measured on a "per-person basis." EAS Chairman and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, at a post-summit press conference, that he did "not know whether that is the position which will be negotiated in an international agreement" on climate change. China and India made persuasive presentations on why economic development was a priority for them. The leaders of 16 EAS countries signed a Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment. 

HITACHI CONDUCTS STUDY ON LOCAL MANUFACTURING IN INDIA
Japanese electronics maker Hitachi on Thursday said it is conducting a feasibility study in India for local manufacturing, as the market for high-end products grows in the country. "The market for LCD, plasma and HD TV market in India is small but as the market grows we might consider domestic manufacturing for which we are currently doing a feasibility study to understand the market," Hitachi Home Electronics Country Head Tarun Jain told reporters here. He said the company is facing procurement problems worldwide because of which the prices of the high-end products have stabilized, that were going downwards initially. However, till the market-size increases along with Hitachi's share, it would continue to source products from outside. While announcing the growth plan in India for the next year, Hitachi said it will expand retail presence, introduce high products and penetrate into tier II cities targeting a bigger pie of the LCD, Plasma and HD TV business in the country. "We plan to capture 10 per cent of the LCD and 20 per cent of the plasma market with particular focus on the high-end market. As a part of our growth plans, we will move into tier two cities in a focused manner," Jain said. Currently, the company enjoys four per cent share of the LCD TV segment and 15 per cent share of the Plasma TV market. Hitachi today showcased a new Ultra Thin Series of LCD TVs featuring just 35 mm slim TVs available in 32", 37" and 42" to be launched in India in first quarter of 2008.

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