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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
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)

Books on India

Update No: 044 - (24/09/07)

Exhibiting its commitment to the nuclear agreement with India, Washington has convened a special session of the Nuclear Supplier's Group to further discuss the matter. Since the nuclear agreement has faced a lot of criticism and concern on Indian soil, America believes that it is time to move quickly towards cementing the agreement. US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher told an audience of business leaders and Congressional staffers, that "the sooner we do the nuclear deal, the sooner we turn on the light bulbs so children can do their homework." Boucher's statement reflects a genuine concern toward using the nuclear deal for a speedier economic development. However, much also depends on whether India will follow the safeguards of the Atomic Energy Commission. Assistant Secretary Boucher also separated the nuclear deal from the Hyde Act which has been the cause of domestic uproar in India. Boucher claims that the nuclear deal follows through on the "123 agreement" and not the Hyde Act; although simultaneously saying that the "123 agreement" was in continuance of the Hyde Act. Boucher's statements could be misconstrued especially because of the ambiguity in the agreement. Critics are maintaining that all this is part of a delicate balancing act on the part of the Assistant Secretary. On the Indian side, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Anil Kakodkar and key Indian officials have been quietly meeting with US officials and representatives of NSG countries to clearly outline India's expectations on the waiver issue, while remaining silent on the issue of IAEA safeguards. 

Since India is not a signatory to the NPT, Kakodkar has also insisted on a clear and unconditional exemption from the Nuclear Supplier Group. While the United States is working out the modalities, it is also expecting India to begin talks with the IAEA about a safeguards agreement. Kakodkar is expected to meet IAEA chief Mohammed El Baradei after the NSG meet, to brief him about the progress. The IAEA has been strongly supportive of the US-India nuclear deal despite tensions with Washington on other issues, notably Iran. Another possible impediment to the deal is China, which is carefully assessing the situation and one might see strong opposition from the Chinese in days to come. 

Recent development in Nepal has left New Delhi feeling insecure. Nepal witnessed problems after the rebel Maoists quit the coalition government and announced a boycott of the Nov 22 elections, and decided on a 'street revolt' to get rid of the monarchy. Hundreds of Maoist cadres also marched into the capital Kathmandu and burnt effigies of King Gyanendra. 
India placed its security forces on high alert along the border with Nepal as Maoists pulled out of the Nepalese government. The Interior Ministry alerted paramilitary and police forces on the India-Nepal border, preparing them for any possible escalatory situation along the Nepal border. An official from the Interior Ministry said that the security alert was issued to five states along the Nepal border to stem the inflow of criminals and arms prior to the Constituent Assembly elections in Nepal scheduled for November. India shares a 1,751-kilometer border with Nepal. Interior Minister Shivraj Patil also convened a high-level meeting of officials to review the security scenario along the border. "We have requested the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Sikkim as well as the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) to take all precautionary measures and remain vigilant in view of the political developments in Nepal", as quoted in a statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. 

China and India will hold a fresh round of border talks, currently planned for the period between September 24 and 26. The meeting comes as the 11th round in a long series of talks. The dates were decided during bilateral talks between Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and senior Chinese officials, including Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Assistant Foreign Minister He Yafei. Mr. Menon's discussions during his two-day visit were described in a brief press release by the Indian embassy as "positive, constructive and fruitful." However, Menon has not received any assurances from Beijing with regard to its support for the India-US nuclear deal. According to Xinhua news agency, Mr. Tang told Mr. Menon that China and India "have a solid basis and broad prospect to develop their friendship and cooperation." "China and India should promote exchanges and cooperation in various fields, increase coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs, so as to promote the bilateral strategic partnership toward peace and prosperity." Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to visit China at the end of the year. 

Muhammad Farooq Rehmani, Convenor and Chairman of the All Parties Hurriyet Conference (G) J&K, has expressed serious concern over regular clandestine interaction between Indian and Israeli armies in Kashmir. He criticized a proposed visit by the Israeli defense minister to Jammu and Kashmir as dangerous for peace in the region. Rehmani who strongly supports the Kashmiri cause, believes that the talks between India and Israel in Kashmir could worsen human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Rehmani has been also trying to persuade Pakistan to raise the issue of state terrorism in J&K with India, in their forthcoming joint meeting on terrorism. He said India must be forced to demilitarize Kashmir to allow Kashmiris to begin their normal political activities without fear and harassment. He said only pro-Indian groups in Kashmir enjoyed civil liberties and political freedoms, while pro-freedom political workers were dubbed as terrorists and sent to prisons for long detention. He said the Kashmir movement was always a peaceful freedom struggle while the label of terrorism against it was to malign it to safeguard India's nefarious designs in the region. While Rehamni's remarks are very critical of India's efforts in Kashmir, there has to be merit to not including third parties such as Israel in the entire debate on Kashmir. Including Israel given the ground realities of Kashmir could be mistaken by Pakistan as India's advances towards a third party for the settlement of the Kashmir dispute. 

According to a very recent report in the Wall Street Journal, Asia is likely to grow this year at a faster rate than initially expected. In its Asian Development Outlook 2007 Update, the Manila-based Asian Development Bank raised its 2007 growth forecast for Asia excluding Japan to 8.3% from 7.6% in the March outlook, and its forecast for 2008 to 8.2% from 7.7%. The Asian Development Bank expects India's economy to grow 8.5% this year and next, up from its prior forecasts of 8% for 2007 and 8.3% for 2008. If China and India are excluded, the other economies in developing Asia are expected to grow a more modest 5.7% in 2007 and 5.6% in 2008. China and India combined account for 55% of developing Asia's gross domestic product. The report also says that the main challenges to growth next year are contingent on whether distress in credit markets deepens and spills over into the wider financial system and real economy. 

India and Sri Lanka have entered into a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement which is expected to take the Sri Lankan and Indian economies beyond trade in goods towards greater integration, and to impart renewed impetus and synergy to bilateral economic interaction. The Indian government plans to go all out to assist Sri Lanka to expand its economy by exploring new opportunities in sectors like IT and BPO. Sectors for cooperation include telecom, professional services, construction and engineering, ICT, energy, tourism etc. Alok Prasad, Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, while speaking at a meeting organized by the Indo- Lanka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, made these assurances. Alok Prasad also said that one of the main goals was to enable greater economic liberalization by removal of non-trade barriers. The Indian High Commissioner also noted that Sri Lankan trade with India had been increased by ten fold since 2000 and Sri Lankan exports to India have recorded a 90 percent increase under the FTA while Indian exports to Sri Lanka increased by 45 percent. India is the third largest market for Sri Lankan exports.

As foreign investment reaches its peak in India, the Indian rupee is expected to climb higher against the dollar. Lifted by a tide of overseas money into domestic shares following a cut in US interest rates, the Indian currency strengthened beyond the psychologically key 40 rupees to the dollar barrier for the first time in nine years last week. The rupee closed on Friday at 39.87 to the dollar and analysts expect it to gain further in coming months as foreign investors buy shares and pour money into plants and infrastructure projects to exploit the booming economy. "We're looking for a rupee of around 39 to the dollar by year end and for the rupee to go to around 38.5 or 38 to the dollar by mid next year," said Richard Yetsenga, HSBC's Asia currency strategist in Hong Kong. While the rupee is going up, its increase depends on the central bank's decision to slow the rupee's appreciation.

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