India. When over 170 people were killed in attacks on a
series of targets in central Bombay on November 26, it was
the culmination of a year of repeated terrorist attacks.
What gave the attacks in Bombay a special symbolic weight
was that they were aimed at, among other things, two of the
city's most prestigious hotels, the largest railway station,
a hospital and a Jewish center. Among the victims were 26
foreign nationals. For three days, the terrorists held
hostages at the hotels and the Jewish Center before
commandos could stop them.
Countryaah reports, the attacks had political consequences. Authorities were
criticized for slow actions and for not responding to
intelligence information about an imminent attack. The
interior minister resigned and the government sent a sharp
protest to Pakistan, from where the terrorists were said to
have come. India did not threaten military intervention against
the neighboring country, which promised to cooperate in the
investigation, but provided a list of 20 terrorists who were
required to be extradited. The multi-year peace process was
Earlier, terror attacks had shaken the center of the
tourist city of Jaipur in May, the IT center Bangalore and
the big city of Ahmadabad in July, the capital New Delhi in
September and the northeastern state of Assam in October.
These acts and several minor assaults required well over 200
lives and injured many more people. In most cases, the
attacks were blamed on Muslim extremists, but in some cases
suspicions were also directed against militant Hindus.
Shortly before the attack in Assam, the state had been
shaken by clashes between minority bodo and Muslim settlers
from Bangladesh. About 50 people were killed and over 85,000
fled before the unrest stopped.
The bombings in Bombay were believed to be partly
intended to disrupt the ongoing elections in Kashmir. There,
unrest flared up during the summer to a more serious level
than in several years. Muslims suspected that the local
government's decision to grant a Hindu foundation the right
to a land area during a pilgrimage was an attempt to
downplay the Muslim character of the state. Dozens of people
were killed and hundreds injured in protests between
protesters and police and the government was forced to
retire. The November-December re-election was conducted
without any more difficult inter-zone and led the Congress
Party and the traditionally strong party National Conference
to decide to co-rule.
In the state of Orissa on the east coast, the Christian
minority suffered persecution following the murder of a
Hindu leader. At least 20 people, most Christians, were
killed and churches vandalized during the riots that lasted
for several weeks.
The government, led by the Congress Party, was able to
finalize the agreement with the US on nuclear cooperation in
July, but the deal was carried out at the price of failing
support in Parliament. Four Left parties, which criticized
the approach to the United States, broke with the government
and formed a new opposition alliance. The government passed
a vote of confidence after receiving support from a regional
socialist party. After the nuclear agreement was approved by
the UN agency IAEA, India could also enter into an agreement
with France on the purchase of nuclear reactors. Russia had
already promised to build four nuclear reactors in India.
During the spring and summer, the rate of inflation
increased rapidly, reaching almost 12 per cent in July. The
central bank raised its policy rate in installments, to a
maximum of 9 percent at the end of July. When the global
financial crisis hit during the autumn, a series of interest
rate cuts followed, down to 6.5 per cent in early December.
The growth rate in the economy was also subdued and the
forecast for 2008 was written down to about 7 percent, the
lowest increase in several years.
I's advancement as an economic and industrial power does
not happen without social problems. The car company Tata in
January presented a new model that, at a cost of 100,000
rupees, about SEK 17,000, would become the world's cheapest
passenger car. In October, however, the group was forced to
scrap the plans at a plant in West Bengal following
widespread protests against the development of agricultural
land. The plans for an economic free zone in the state of
Maharashtra also encountered compact opposition from local
farmers. However, two major mining projects in Orissa were
approved by the Supreme Court, despite protests from
farmers, environmental movements and ethnic minorities who
saw their living environment threatened.
The years of strong economic growth have not benefited
I's population fairly. In October, an alert report was
issued by IFPRI (International Food Policy Research
Institute) on serious malnutrition in large parts of the
country. In the state of Madhya Pradesh in central I, the
situation was described as difficult as in the worst
affected African countries.