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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: 036 - (25/01/07)

DIFFERENT TAKES ON SEPARATISM IN KASHMIR AND ASSAM
Kashmiri leaders belonging both to India and Pakistan have concluded a joint declaration urging 'Mujahideen' groups to support the peace process between the two countries. Releasing the joint declaration at a press conference here this afternoon, the Kashmiri leaders that included visiting Chairman of the moderate faction of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and President of the 'Azad Kashmir' of Pakistan Raja Zulqarnain Haider, called for continuation in the peace process. The declaration establishes a tripartite dialogue involving Pakistan, India and the people of Kashmir in addition to the setting up of two working groups by the respective governments of India and Pakistan, in order to enhance intra-Kashmir dialogue. Mirwaiz said that both countries should do as much as possible to extend their whole hearted support to this dialogue to facilitate the peace process and mount further pressure on the public to unite on this issue. Mirwaiz's remarks might well draw flak from political opponents and those, like the Islamic jihadists, opposed to any peaceful resolution to the conflict. The All Party Hurriyat Conference is an alliance of 23 separatist groups based in Indian Kashmir. Mirwaiz Farooq also met with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who shared his views about ongoing talks with India to resolve the Kashmir conflict.

While separatist leaders in Kashmir have displayed some inclination towards promoting a healthy dialogue, the situation has been quite different in the north eastern state of Assam which has been the victim of ULFA attacks (a terrorist body seeking secession from India). The jailed leader of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), Ramu Mech has stated that "the situation (in Assam) will turn frightening" if the government does not free five imprisoned rebel leaders and hold discussions on sovereignty for the state. Mech is one of the five jailed ULFA leaders whose release is being demanded by the banned group. On the recent killing of 70 migrant workers by the ULFA in the state, Mech said, "more than 30,000 Assamese women have been widowed during our struggle but the Centre was never concerned. Why is it so bothered only when Hindi-speaking people are killed?" Mech also said the ULFA was never opposed to talks and favoured a permanent solution to Assam's problems. The spate of terror unleashed by the ULFA insurgents provides yet another angle to India experience with insurgency. While religion has been a more fundamental issue in Kashmir, language issues seem to hold more weight for the ULFA militants. However, both strands of extremism have tried to seek a sovereign state for their own people although as can be seen, Kashmiri insurgents have become a little more receptive towards negotiations and peace talks in recent months; indicating a positive difference when compared to ULFA's agenda. 

INDIA- RUSSIA MILITARY PARTNERSHIP
Russia and India have embarked on a new phase in their relationship in 2007. Both countries are going to proceed with the development of fighter jets. This was announced by the Russian defence ministry prior to Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov's visit to India this month. A joint Russian-Indian military exercise is also scheduled to take place in the north-western Russian city of Pskov, close to the Estonian border. Ivanov during his two-day trip to India is scheduled to visit the city of Bangalore and attend political talks in New Delhi. Besides the co-operation with fighter jets, Russian President Vladimir Putin is also scheduled to travel to India to commemorate the country's Independence Day celebrations on January 26. Indian and Russian delegations would be meeting and would discuss all aspects of their bilateral relationship, including strategic, political, defence, economic, commerce and cultural.
Putin's visit comes after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Russia in December 2005. At the time, India and Russia had signed the following agreements in Moscow: Reciprocal Protection of Intellectual Property Rights in Military Technical Cooperation; Space Exploration Cooperation Agreement; Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Solar Physics and Solar Terrestrial Relationships; and Agreement on Implementation of Programme for Military and Technical Cooperation until 2010. 

INDIA - CHINA BORDER TALKS
India and China have just concluded their ninth round of talks on seeking to resolve the outstanding boundary disputes in a "open, friendly and constructive atmosphere," and have agreed to continue discussions in Beijing later this year. According to a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs in India, "The talks were held in an open, friendly, cooperative and constructive atmosphere." Indian National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo were the two special representatives from each country. India has maintained that China is illegally occupying 43,180 sq km of Jammu and Kashmir, including 5,180 sq km illegally ceded by Islamabad to Beijing under the Sino-Pakistan boundary agreement in 1963. On the other hand, Beijing accuses New Delhi of possessing some 90,000 sq km of what it claims to be Chinese territory, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh.

The joint statement was silent on whether any progress was made on pushing the resolution of the boundary question that has shadowed ties between the two Asian powers over more than four decades. The talks also did not make much headway over China's claim to the monastery town of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. Instead, Beijing claims the entire Arunachal Pradesh as its territory - a claim reiterated by the Chinese ambassador to India, Sun Yuxi ahead of President Hu Jintao's visit to India in November last year. This assertion was met with severe criticism from the Indian side as Arunachal Pradesh has always been an integral part of India. Narayanan and Dai held talks on a framework for the boundary settlement on the basis of an agreement on political parameters and guiding principles, that includes not to disturb settled populations, as any part of a package settlement of the boundary dispute, during the visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to India in 2005.Dai also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday and held talks with them on a wide range of bilateral and global issues, including boosting trade and investment and greater cooperation in strategic issues. The two countries declared a resolution of the boundary question as the strategic objective of their growing relationship during the visit of Hu to India. Despite India's and China's burgeoning relationship in the economic arena, the boundary problems might be the major stumbling block in building strong relations between both countries. As long as China believes that the state of Arunachal Pradesh is part of its own territory, it might find it extremely difficult to forge any kind of productive partnership with India. Alternatively, it is so peripheral to China's geopolitical interests that it may seek to use this issue at some point as a bargaining chip over some more weighty matter. Or, China may just prefer to leave the issue unresolved in case it ever wishes to raise the temperature in some future dispute with India. Right now however, peace and light seem to predominate in this relationship.

ECONOMY
The WTO chief Pascal Lamy, is visiting India this month. During his stay in Banglaore and while addressing a meeting organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Lamy asked India to offer concessions on agriculture subsidies for the successful conclusion of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations. Launched in 2001, the Doha Round was aimed at easing poverty through trade and boost the global economy but talks came to a grinding halt in July 2006 owing to the differences between the US, EU and developing nations, mainly on farm tariffs and subsidies. The WTO Director General is meeting major world leaders about resuming trade negotiations. Lamy said that he was aware of the position taken by India on agriculture but argued that opening up the sector for imports would not make the lives of Indian farmers any tougher. He said that the roadblocks in agriculture negotiations had to be surmounted to facilitate the next round of Doha talks. Lamy said that both developed and developing countries would need to take tariff cuts though greater responsibility would be on rich nations. He said that even after the concessions, nations will have some flexibility. Approximately 30 global trade ministers will meet in the Swiss resort of Davos at the end of this month to discuss how to take the Doha Round forward. Lamy himself will hold talks with officials from India, which has been a key negotiator for developing nations along with Brazil. Earlier, Lamy met Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to seek concessions from India to revive the stalled Doha Round. In a 30-minute meeting with Dr. Singh, he briefed him about the fresh efforts for reviving global trade talks because he wanted key WTO members, including India and Brazil, to go an extra mile for sealing the Doha Round. 

MOBILE 'PHONES
In separate news, Motorola Inc. announced an agreement with Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), for the supply of a Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service (UMTS) cellular network for Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR). Under the agreement, which includes network deployment and maintenance services, MTNL will be expanding its GSM network by 2 million lines. As the first UMTS rollout in India, the UMTS network deployment will take place after the relevant regulatory authority of India has authorized spectrum allocation and appropriate licenses are obtained by the network operators. MTNL has ordered UMTS equipment for validation and plans to place further orders subject to allocation of frequency spectrum. Once UMTS equipment is in place, value added services are planned to be deployed to enable MTNL to gain new revenue streams. "Motorola has always been a front-runner in providing cutting edge technological solutions and services to India's telecommunications industry," said Firdose Vandrevala, head of Motorola India. "This collaboration with MTNL demonstrates Motorola's commitment to build the best-in-class wireless network that will be the backbone for superior wireless services in India." 

INDIAN MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE TIE-UP WITH BUSINESS SCHOOL
A major development this month has been the partnership between Columbia Business School, a premier U.S. institution of graduate-level business studies, and the Indian Institute of Management - Ahmedabad (IIM-A) that will focus on student exchange programs. This partnership is another step toward Columbia Business School's goal of deepening its relationship with India. Columbia Business School and IIM-A will design and host an international study program for students of both institutions. This partnership will go beyond the academic experience by providing practical, first-hand knowledge of global business through executive presentations and field visits to top businesses both in India and the U.S. The partnership is one of many efforts by Columbia Business School to deepen its ties to India in the coming year. In collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the School will host a discussion with business and government leaders in New Delhi. The discussion, entitled Prospects for the World Economy after the Recent U.S. Election, will include India's Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram; Commerce Minister, Kamal Nath; and business leaders like Sunil Mittal, chairman of Bharti Enterprises and Professor Jagdish Bhagwati of Columbia University.

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