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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: 076 - (28/05/10)

Any attempt at improving the relationship between India and Pakistan could receive a severe blow as the Pakistan's high court ruled on May 26, that the Pakistani authorities did not have enough evidence to arrest Hafiz Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-i-Taiba and mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Hafiz Saeed was considered one of India's most wanted men but was freed from house arrest in June by a Pakistani court in Lahore that ruled that authorities had failed to link him to the Mumbai attacks or to any terrorist group. Pakistan's Supreme Court ruling upheld the lower court decision. The LA Times reports that Saeed currently heads a charity organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which is regarded by Western leaders as a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba but Saeed's followers say Jamaat-ud-Dawa has no ties to any terrorist group and instead is focused on the construction of schools and clinics and other humanitarian work.

Needless to say, Indian officials have been disappointed by the decision but the pattern is not new. Pakistan has had a long history of releasing prisoners who were guilty of terrorist attacks against India.

While India and Pakistan were working out a way of ameliorating the differences between them, as of today, the Pakistani High Court’s verdict in favor of Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks could throw a giant wrench in the relationship. A few weeks ago, a senior Pakistani diplomat told the Pakistani National Newspaper Dawn that the Pakistani administration would like the United States to encourage India to take steps for improving the human rights situation in Kashmir by moving forward on Siachen and Sir Creek and agreeing to arbitration on the Kishanganga hydropower project. Foreign Office Spokesman, Abdul Basit said that “our two countries need to build mutual trust and confidence and it is therefore necessary that we engage each other with sincerity of purpose with a view to settling our differences and disputes and achieving peace and prosperity in the region.” Pakistan also wants India to end the exercise of Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Kashmir and release all political prisoners. But the bigger issue is that while it seems like Pakistan is trying to bring the United States into mediating with India, India has always maintained a strong stance against any kind of third-party mediation. Yet, there is speculation that the United States is putting pressure on both countries to continue with talks. The two countries will conduct the next series of talks on June 26, 2010 with a meeting between the Interior Ministers of both countries. The interior ministers are expected to discuss anti-terrorism cooperation, according to diplomatic sources.

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently met to pursue discussions between representatives of oil and gas companies of the two countries with the hope that it would create conditions for mutually beneficial cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector. As per the joint statement signed by both parties, “it was agreed that the Ministers on both sides responsible for oil and gas will take forward ideas for intensifying joint efforts in various projects in the oil and gas sector.” The leaders also hoped that discussions on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project would continue with a view to realize it early. “To intensify economic engagement and extend cooperation in areas in which India had gained considerable expertise, the Indian side proposed to conduct a feasibility study on setting up a gas based fertilizer plant in Turkmenistan” the statement said.”

According to India’s Department of Telecommunications, a fierce auction for 3G cell phone spectrum has generated around $14.6 billion for the government. The government had expected to get less than 350 billion rupees ($7.5 billion) but over 34 days of bidding, the amount rose to 509.7 billion rupees ($11 billion), according to bid prices listed on the Department of Telecommunications’ website. The government may use the unexpected windfall to trim its swollen fiscal deficit. Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee told reporters that getting extra money from the 3G auction would provide more opportunity and fiscal space for the Finance Sector to manage financial matters. India’s mobile market is far from mature, adding 20 million users a month, many of them in rural villages where they have little use for the fancy data services, video calls and high-tech graphic applications that 3G makes possible.


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