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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: 042 - (25/07/07)

INDIA ELECTS FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT
Pratibha Patil, former Governor of Rajasthan has replace Abdul Kalam as the next President of India and will maintain the title for a five year term. The election was particularly historic as this is the first time in India's history that a woman has been selected for the President's post. Pratibha Patil who is a 72-year-old lawyer won by a landslide victory over the 84-year-old vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat for the position of head of state. On being elected, Patil expressed her gratitude to the men and women of India for giving her the opportunity to serve India. She told reporters that her election signified a victory for the principles that India stood for. Many other political leaders and members of parliament share the euphoria over a female taking over the reins of the Presidency. Sonia Gandhi, the president of the ruling Congress party, noted that in the 60th year of India's independence, for the first time, the country has a woman president. The government's Communist partners echoed her views. A.B. Bardhan, the leader of the Communist party of India called it a "historic win" and a "great moment." Patil's victory had been shrouded in controversy as her campaign was tainted by accusations from Hindu opposition parties of corruption. Patil had been previously accused of protecting her brother in a murder probe and protecting her husband in suicide scandal. However, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Patil's victory a win against the "politics of divisiveness." 

INDIA-AUSTRALIA ANTI-TERRORIST TREATY
In the light of the Glasgow terror plot, and due to the Mohammed Haneef episode, Australia and India have decided to "accelerate" negotiations on extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties. Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer spoke with Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukerjee and said that his dialogue with his India counterpart was good and that India was well armed with all the facts of the case. Part of accelerating the negotiations includes a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and also an Extradition Treaty. The Glasgow episode has bound India and Australia in a campaign against terror more so because both countries want to display their cooperation in eliminating any future terrorist connections. The idea behind cooperation is that in future, both countries will find it easier to deal with Indian and Australian citizens who may be involved in allegations in relation to the law. 

INDIA-US FORMULATE NUCLEAR TEXT 
India and the US took an important step towards realizing civilian nuclear cooperation after negotiators on both sides achieved a breakthrough and finalized the 123 agreement, which will govern Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation. After four days of negotiations, the two sides have finalized the text of the 123 agreement and moved past issues that were blocking any successful negotiations. The joint statement released after the talks said, "the discussions were constructive and positive, and both Under Secretary Burns and Foreign Secretary Menon are pleased with the substantial progress made on the outstanding issues in the 123 agreement." The two governments will now review the final text of the bilateral agreement. India has been successful in negotiating reprocessing rights for itself and an assured fuel supply for the 14 civilian nuclear reactors. In the last couple of months, negotiations reached a deadlock over the issue of granting reprocessing rights to India and on returning nuclear material to the US in case India decided to test a nuclear weapon. On reprocessing the US side accepted India's offer of a safeguard facility for reprocessing of imported fuel. The fine print of the 123 agreement is in the final stages and will now be reviewed by the respective governments. (SOURCE: Economic Times)

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

RS 100 CRORE FUND FOR INFRASTRUCTURE
The Central government has urged states to develop a number of infrastructure projects to avail of a revolving fund that has almost been finalized with an initial amount of Rs 100 crore. The India Infrastructure Project Development Fund was proposed in this year's Budget speech. It is set up to help the government develop various infrastructure projects under public-private-partnership (PPP). Finance Minister P.Chidambaram, said that the fund would finance up to 75 per cent of projects' development expenses under PPP. The fund would be a revolving one, and would be replenished from successful bid projects. In a separate move, the government is looking at using $5 billion from the country's foreign exchange reserves every year for use in infrastructure projects. The proposed fund would provide up to 75 per cent of the project development cost in the form of interest free loans to state governments in case bidding of projects is successful. In the event of the bidding failing, it would be converted into a grant. What might stand in the way of successful implementation of this proposal is that, currently states are averse to developing projects as they risked losing all the money invested if the bidding failed. Mr. Chidambaram echoed such concerns saying, "States do not have adequate pipeline of projects. Nor do they have the capacity to prepare a shelf of projects." Mr Chidambaram said. Therefore, it was absolutely vital for states to first prepare the shelf of infrastructure projects, and they would receive all support from the finance ministry. 

BIOTECHNOLOGY BOOM IN INDIA
Up until recently, information technology has reigned supreme and biotechnology has been a runner up. However, there are positive indications that the biotechnology industry is all set to witness a higher growth than in recent years. One of the most prominent signs of such growth is the willingness of several big biotechnology-plus-life sciences corporations in the world to set up a base in India for doing variety of activities from clinical researches to drug discoveries. India's large reserves of intellectual talent, low costs as well as presence of small biotechnology companies in the country, are playing an important role in attracting these companies. Biogen Idec, the world's oldest biotechnology company, set up a subsidiary in India in early 2007 with the aim of doing Research & Development and integrating India in its worldwide clinical development programs. Other international companies such as Genzyme, Pall Life Sciences, Genentech, Agilent Technologies', Histogenetics, are also keen on starting operations in India A recent report by RNCOS on "Asia Pacific Biotechnology Market (2007-2010)" also unveiled India's immense potential in the field of Biotechnology. As per the report, India possesses a great potential to become one of the most significant players in biotechnology industries globally by 2010. "It is poised to leverage its scientific skills and technical expertise to make a global impact from a strong innovation led platform." The report also stated that "India presents exciting opportunities for biotech companies in US and Europe to integrate their drug development programs at lower cost and shorter time, thereby having an advantage over trials conducted in the more expensive research environs of the west." The research reports also addressed some other interesting issues and facts that are critical for the success in Asia-Pacific biotechnology market, like trends in the Asia-Pacific biotechnology industry, an overview of bio-clusters in the industry, course of market growth for the next 5 years as well as issues confronted by the industry.

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