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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: 058 - (03/11/08)

INDIA'S LUNAR MISSION SUCCESSFULLY TAKES OFF
India's first unmanned moon mission was launched on October 22, 2008, making India at par with Japan and China and signaling India's intent to be a global power. The mission was launched from the Sriharikota space centre north of Chennai and was broadcast live on television. Prime minister, Manmohan Singh displayed pride in the Indian scientific community's achievements and said that the entire nation would be indebted to them. The launch follows unmanned lunar probes from China and Japan last year. The Chandrayaan I spacecraft is expected to reach lunar orbit early next month and spend two years scanning the moon for evidence of water and precious metals. India is hoping that the mission will help enhance its space program and draw it into the same league as its rival Asian neighbors. Work on a two-person capsule is already under way. Despite seeking a larger share of the commercial satellite launch market, India, Japan and China see their space programs as being necessary to be part of a group of powerful nation-states.

INDIA-CHINA RELATIONS
At the recently convened Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said that China and India should strive for a "far-sighted and strategic" relationship. Both China and India are major developing nations in Asia. China argues that developing good neighborly relations with India is of supreme importance and consistent with China's government policy. Hu also emphasized how China and India share common interests in addressing global issues ranging from the international financial crisis and climate change to energy and food security. Manmohan Singh also stressed that India would continue to enhance its strategic and cooperative partnership with China in line with a joint declaration signed in 2006. This meeting came on the heels of the G8 summit in Japan and the row over China's accusations at the Nuclear Suppliers Group's (NSG) Meeting held from Sep 4-6 in Vienna. 

PAKISTAN MAKES A COMMITMENT TO STOP TERROR
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has recently assured Manmohan Singh that his country was committed to working with New Delhi to control terrorist activities. 

The meeting took place on a day when Vivek Katju, additional secretary in the ministry of external affairs held a meeting on the joint anti-terror mechanism with his counterpart, Aizaz Ahmed in New Delhi. 

The two leaders discussed a range of issues including the Indus Water treaty and resumption of cross-border trade in Jammu and Kashmir. Singh conveyed to Gilani that India takes very seriously, Pakistan's commitment on implementing the Indus Water Treaty. The two leaders also discussed the possibility of increasing bilateral trade and improving the visa procedures to bring about greater exchange of tourists. 

The key item here is that the elected civilian government of Pakistan is setting out its commitment, so it may be reasonably be assumed that any further acts of terror are not state-sponsored. But that leaves the reality experienced by many countries that they have simply been incapable of interdicting terrorist actions, or in the particular case of Pakistan, to what if any extent elements of the ISI might be culpable, either having been penetrated by the Islamists, or playing some devious game of their own? That is an inevitable question after the recent bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul, where the neutral American CIA openly pointed the finger at the ISI, after monitoring phone calls between their operatives and known Islamic extremists. It is 'a given' that the ISI is not controlled by the Pakistan civilian government, but there is a question as to whether it is actually controlled by the military high command?

What really matters here, after the two governments making commitments to each other, is whether the practical step of intelligence-sharing between the two nations, will now take place.

THE COLLAPSE OF STOCK MARKETS AND ITS EFFECTS ON INDIA
As the world of economics witnesses the collapse of stock markets all over the world, it is imperative to look at the consequences of this development for India's own economy. This month, learning from the patterns of economic fluctuations rocking the entire world, India took swift steps by maintaining the strictures on foreign institutional investors and the high-cost tight money regime, that were imposed just last year as the markets and inflation surged There seems to have increased an urgency for sustainable reform especially since there have been reports of India's business environment deteriorating over the past year. In the World Bank's annual "Doing Business" survey, India has slipped two places from 120 to 122 out of 181 economies. Apart from the parameter "Registering a property", where the country's ranking rose nine points, India slipped badly on others measures such as "starting a business" (-7), "protecting investor interests" (-5) and "trading across borders" (-9). India currently ranks 48 in a scheme of 66 countries on the Global IT Competitiveness Index. Here, too, India has slipped two places from last year. One of the major factors that dragged India down is the availability of qualified manpower. Reports also indicate that there are many challenges to doing business in India as it lacks a sufficiently educated population and has a high percentage of people below the poverty line. India's political leadership needs to start focusing on more practical ways of improving the business environment and improving social infrastructure.  

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