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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: 079 - (31/08/10)

Kashmir in Flames
Kashmir is yet again in the eye of the storm but this time the problem stems from unrest within the state’s internal borders. Thousands of Kashmiri Muslims have been engaged in widespread protests against the administration of Jammu and Kashmir as well as the security forces. Frequent skirmishes between mobs and security forces has become quite common, often leading to the loss of innocent lives. The killing of innocent victims at the hands of government forces has caused tremendous outrage amongst many a Kashmir Muslim. Such unrest seems to be growing as part of a larger movement against government forces for the last two months which has claimed the lives of 62 people.

Tragically, accusations against India’s paramilitary forces for the use of brute and unwarranted force have been legitimate. The paramilitary forces have opened fire on angry mobs without exercising maximum restraint. Thousands of troops have been further deployed to maintain a sense of calm and reinstate law and order but the growing disillusionment amongst the Kashmiri youth seems to be far from over. In fact, the situation is dire. On August 15, India’s Independence Day, Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh urged the people of Kashmir to maintain peace and said that the government was willing to hold talks with separatist parties as the violence was not going to benefit anyone. The recent spate of clashes between civilians and Indian security forces in Kashmir strongly resembles the uprising by local people against corrupt government practices and the breakdown of law and order following the 1987 elections. Institutional decay and rampant corruption provided a fertile ground for Kashmiri youth to take up arms against the state who were further aided in their efforts by Pakistani agents. Hence, the current scenario does not only augur well for the internal stability and peace of Kashmir but also raises serious questions about the compromise of peace and security between India and Pakistan in the future. If the Indian Central government and the state government of Kashmir fails to address the growing unrest amongst the local population, they could very well face a situation in the near future where they may be forced to negotiate once again with Pakistan over Kashmir; a prospect that harbors dangerous ramifications for India’s national security.

India-China: Discord and Agreement
India has suspended a defense exchange with China following Beijing’s refusal to allow the Indian Army’s Northern Command Chief, Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal, to join a military delegation for a high-level visit. As a counter-response, India has refused to allow two Chinese Army captains to attend a defense course and a colonel to speak at a higher defense course. Indian Foreign Office Spokesperson, Vishnu Prakash said that “while we value our exchanges with China, there must be sensitivity to each others’ concerns and the dialogue with China on these issues is ongoing.” While such tensions have come to the fore on the defense side, in positive news, Human Resource Development Minister, Kapil Sibal will visit China from September 10 to 16 to attend the World Economic Forum in Tianjin between September 13 and 16. As part of this trip, both sides will agree to recognize the higher educational degrees of each country. China has emerged as a major higher education destination for Indians over the past six years. Over 7,000 Indians are pursuing higher education programs in China. Medicine is the most popular field for Indians there but many are also studying engineering and the humanities — especially languages. However, for quite a few years, Chinese courses were not recognized in India. The current initiative will help alleviate this problem.

Privatizing the Nuclear Industry
The Indian Parliament has adopted a controversial piece of legislation that will open up the country’s $150 billion atomic energy market to overseas suppliers. The legislation also known as the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill was passed this week in the Lok Sabha and had the full support of the opposition Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party. It will then be submitted to the Upper House, the Rajya Sabha where it is expected to pass, after which it will be sent to the president for his signature.

The US-India accord, endorsed by the Vienna-based 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group, permitted India since 2008 to trade in civil nuclear fuel and equipment in return for international inspection of 14 of its 22 atomic reactors. The remaining eight military reactors and related facilities linked will not be subject to IAEA inspections. According to highly complex provisions in the Liability Nuclear Bill, a claims commissioner – a senior bureaucrat or judicial officer appointed by the government – would adjudicate all claims within 90 days for lesser nuclear accidents. Larger claims for more serious incidents would be decided by the respective provincial high courts or the federal supreme court within a decade. The damages for these claims would be limitless.

India and Afghanistan
India and Afghanistan concluded two days of talks during a visit to New Delhi by Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, saying they would work together to combat terrorism in the region. Rassaoul met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and held talks with his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna on issues ranging from trade to fighting terrorism. They also discussed the possibility of transforming Afghanistan into a center for promoting trade between Central and South Asia.
  

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