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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: 045 - (29/10/07)

According to a report in the International Herald Tribune, China's foreign minister offered "tepid" support for India's bid for a permanent U.N. Security Council seat. Yang Jiechi affirmed India's rising diplomatic and economic clout, saying both nations "are major countries in Asia and countries with important influence in the world." However, when asked if Beijing fully backed India for a permanent seat in the Security Council, the minister said nothing. He did add that, "reform of the Security Council is an issue that everybody needs to negotiate on" While Yang expressed some faith in Chinese beliefs of supporting India playing a larger role in the UN, he was unsure about what kind of role India ought to play. China is one of the current five permanent Security Council members, along with Russia, the United States, France and Britain. All have taken a mostly cautious view to any changes to the global system set in place more than 50 years ago. India has meanwhile expressed concerns over China's military buildup, seen by some as pushing New Delhi closer to Washington. Fast growth in both economies has also been a source of competition for resources and markets. Yang was convinced that both countries would move towards something that would be "mutually beneficial." 

SAARC is an association of economic and political organization of eight countries across South Asia. It was established on December 8, 1985 by India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan. In April 2007, Afghanistan became its eighth member at the Association's 14th summit. The three day South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Conference of Home Ministers and senior officials from SAARC countries has begun in New Delhi placing greater emphasis on cooperation between the SAARC members to fight terrorism. Since almost all South Asian countries have been affected by the threat of terrorism, the SAARC countries are particularly concerned about eradicating and fighting organized crimes, narcotics, smuggling and human trafficking in their respective countries. The network of countries is seeking to develop stronger legal channels to check trans-border terrorism and the trafficking of women and children. According to the Home Ministry sources, the Police Chiefs of SAARC nations will discuss on these issues on the opening day on October 23 while the Home Ministers of these countries will take up the matters on the second day. The meeting holds special significance in the light of a series of terrorist attacks in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, where the respective governments are trying to stabilize the situation and prevent future occurrences. 

The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Nigeria recently providing a platform to build stronger ties between the two countries. The Abuja Declaration on Strategic Partnership adopted by both nations last week includes exchanges among parliamentarians, and a steady interaction between the political classes of both countries that could help develop Nigeria's capacity for sustainable growth in representative governance. India has issues a grant of $900 million to Nigeria in support of the implementation of the seven-point agenda of the President Umaru Yar'Adua administration. These programs, if successful would help strengthen democratic institutions in Nigeria. Nigeria also has to draw from India's methods to combat poverty. The two sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding on defense cooperation and three other documents. These cover a protocol on foreign office consultations, MoU between Indian Council of World Affairs and Nigerian Institute of International Affairs and another MoU between the Foreign Service Institute and its Nigerian counterpart. It was agreed that the two countries would sign within next six months an extradition treaty, agreements on double taxation avoidance and bilateral investment promotion and protection. The two countries will also work out a bilateral air services pact, a mutual legal assistance treaty and an agreement on cooperation against drug trafficking. A three-year cultural exchange program beginning next year is also being set up. 

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has expressed his desire of having India being present at the international peace summit. During a brief stopover in India for re-fuelling of his aircraft en route to the West Bank from Brunei, Abbas said India could play a greater role in facilitating a lasting peace in the Middle East. He told reporters that India as a key regional power had good ties with all and this could help in pushing the peace process forward. The conference called by US President George W Bush is expected to take place in Annapolis, Maryland, by the year-end to revive the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Abbas was met by Indian envoy for Middle East peace process Chinmaya Gharekhan at the Hyderabad airport. When asked about India's role in the peace process, Abbas said that "India has been our friend for a long time, helping us in all spheres including economic and political. We expect their help here as well." Gharekhan briefed Abbas about India's position on the peace process and renewed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's invitation to him to visit India. The invitation was accepted.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has said that India's economy could achieve a growth of 10 per cent in 2011 if the government continues with its reforms which include the privatization of state firms. In its first survey of the Indian economy, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said that India needed to loosen its labor laws, remove a cap on foreign investment in the insurance sector, and undertake wide-ranging reforms to boost growth and reduce poverty. In its report, the OECD said that "the impressive response of the Indian economy to past reforms should give policymakers confidence that further liberalization will deliver additional growth dividends." The Indian economy has grown at an average 8.6 per cent in the past four years but reforms such as further opening the economy to foreign investment and the privatization of state firms have got mired in the opposition from supporters of the ruling coalition. The economy is expected to grow by 8.5 per cent in the financial year ending in March 2008, according to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), slowing from 9.4 per cent in the previous fiscal year. OECD said "India's privatization program needed to be revitalized as there were many loss-making state enterprises and both the productivity and profitability of publicly owned firms had been lower than those in the private sector." Also, "Privatization would thus appear to offer considerable possibilities for improving productivity. Privatizing firms in sectors where the government share of output is larger (banking, insurance, coal and electricity) would also be desirable." The OECD has also called for the insurance and retail sectors to be opened up further. The government has expressed its intention to raise the cap on foreign direct investment (FDI) in the insurance sector to 49 per cent from 26 per cent but this has also been blocked by the left. (SOURCE: Hindustan Times).

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has said that India could play a key role in reaching a deal in the Doha round of international trade talks if it were willing to open up non-agricultural sectors of its economy. Therefore, there appears to be condition contingent upon opening up non-agricultural sectors of society. Paulson, directly ahead of his four day visit to India, said that "Doha is within reach and I think India can play a leadership role in helping us get there." Paulson said access to the services sectors in India and other major emerging economies was important for a Doha deal to be reached. Moreover, "in those industries where they haven't been as regulated or they have been liberalized, they've competed very, very well -- software, airlines and certain manufacturing areas." Paulson also said a controversial deal that would provide India access to civilian nuclear technology would benefit both countries and had U.S. commitment, but he acknowledged domestic political pressure in India against it. Paulson lauded India's flexible currency exchange rate regime, adding that China and India are "two very different nations." However, despite endorsing his promise in India's future, opening up non-agricultural sections of economy is a decision that rests solely with the Indian government. There would be a trade-off in opening up these sectors, which New Delhi may be unwilling to do. Therefore, it will be interesting to see if the Indian government accepts Paulson's suggestions constructively to reduce the possibility of another deadlock in the Doha trade deal.

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