Economy & Trade

Two Medals and a Strike

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Aug. 21 – On the same day that India can boast of three Olmpic medals, 600,000 Indian public, rural and cooperative bank employees have gone on strike to protest the consolidation of state-run banks. The nationwide strike spearheaded by the banks unions is opposing the merger of the State Bank of Saurashtra with its parent SBI.

"The government is hurriedly pursuing mergers without addressing our concerns. We will decide on what to do next," C.H. Venkatachalam, convenor of the United Forum of Bank Unions told Reuters.

India Hosts Asia’s Largest Solar Power Plant

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Aug. 20 – Asia's biggest solar thermal energy plant of 10 MW capacity would be set up at Nagpur, western India, by Acme a private company, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Vilas Muttemwar told the Economic Times. Nagpur would also be the site where the union government would set up a special economic zone to manufacture equipment and appliances related to wind, solar and biogas energy.

The Indian central government has set a target of generating 14,000 MW additional power through renewable resources in the 11th Five-Year Plan, taking the total generation to more than 26,000 MW, the union minister added.

India After Musharraf

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Aug. 19 – President Parvez Musharraf's departure from the Pakistani Politibureau leaves an unpleasant power vacuum between India and Pakistan – arch rivals and nuclear powers. Indian Foreign policy experts believe that Musharraf's resignation effectively eliminates India's one point man on the kashmir issue – the main bone of contention between the two countries.

New Delhi's fear is that a weak civilian government in Islamabad will be unable to exert the same muscle that Musharraf did over Pakistan's army and the powerful military spy agency, the ISI, which India suspects has a hand in most attacks in Kashmir.

India’s Auto Industry to be a Global leader by 2012

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Aug. 18 – India's automobile sector is the tenth largest in the world with an annual car production of approximately 2 million of the world's 73 million. India is the largest motorcycle manufacturer and the fifth largest commercial vehicle manufacturer, Industry experts only expect these statistics to increase. A report by the Asia Economic Institute expects India's automobile sector to become one of the global leaders by 2012.

Clashes in North India Affect Trade

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Aug. 14 – On the eve of the sovereign, secular, republic of India's 61st Independance day, fresh violence has broken out across the Kashmir valley.

A simmering land dispute has polarised Indian Kashmir, split between the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley and the Hindu-dominated region around Jammu city, severely curbing trade between the two areas. The unrest was triggered by a Kashmir government decision in June to donate local land to a Hindu pilgrimage trust. The violence has also fanned fears that communal tensions could spread beyond Kashmir.

ASEAN-India to Sign Free Trade Pact

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Aug. 11 – India's trade with Southeast Asian nations is expected to boom once India signs a free trade pact with ASEAN at the end of this year. The Southeast Asian trade body, consists of 10 member countries – Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines and Singapore.

The deal covering billions of dollars of trade in goods, but not services, is expected to be signed during the ASEAN-India Summit in December, officials told AFP, and will come into effect by the middle of next year.

Total trade between ASEAN and India amounted to US$28.7 billion in 2006, putting India eighth on the list of the bloc's trading partners behind countries like Australia and South Korea, according to ASEAN figures.

Strengthening bilateral ties with China

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Aug. 8 – India’s ruling Congress and the Communist Party of China (CPC) signed a pact on Thursday to put in place a mechanism that would help regular high-level exchanges between them. Signed by Chinese vice-president and standing committee member of the CPC’s politburo, Xi Jinping, and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, the memorandum of understanding also provides the two parties the opportunity to consult each other on important bilateral, regional and international developments.

Indian Companies Make Inroads into Vietnam

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Aug. 5 – Indian businesses such as the Tata and Essar groups have expressed interest in investing in Vietnam for the market’s “political stability, high economic growth, healthy investment climate and numerous stimuli,” said Vietnamese General Consul Nguyen Viet Hung in Mumbai.

As further evidence of this interest in Asia's newest emerging tiger, India's Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL), a state-owned company, said it won a two billion-rupee (US$47 million) contract from Vietnam's Nam Chien hydropower company. BHEL said this is its first order from the Vietnamese power sector.The project is located in Muong La, 350 kilometers north of Hanoi, and is slated to be completed by the end of 2010.

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