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India

Yearbook 2008

2008 IndiaIndia. 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.

According to 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 temporarily canceled.

2008 India

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.

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