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January 1, 2008

India can achieve 10 percent growth: PM

Right policies, high savings and investment rates can step up India's growth to over 10 percent, though some global developments may impact capital flows, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said in New Delhi on December 19 at the 54th meeting of the National Development Council (NDC), which met to approve the Rs. 36.44 trillion 11th Five Year Plan.

"It is possible that with the correct set of policies and dedicated effort by both the Central and State Governments, we will not only maintain this momentum of high growth but may be able to raise it to 10 percent," Dr. Singh said.

"The high growth rate has become possible because of historically high savings and investment rates," he said.

"Our savings rate after stagnating for almost two decades has touched 34 percent of GDP and the investment rate has crossed 35 percent," the Prime Minister said. "These are likely to go up in future because of our young population profile," he added at the meeting which was attended by Chief Ministers of States, Lieutenant Governors, key Union Ministers and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

The Prime Minister also dwelt on the current turmoil in the global economy but added that while these could have an impact on India's economy, it cannot derail it because of its inherent resilience.

"There are some clouds on global financial markets after the sub-prime lending crisis. There are worries that the growth of the U.S. and other leading economies may slow down and some may even go into a recession," he said.

"This is not to say we must be pessimistic and less ambitious in growth targets. It only implies that we need to redouble our efforts to maintain the domestic drivers of growth and ensure policy facilitates faster growth," Dr. Singh said.

"Our economy has demonstrated resilience in meeting the challenges posed by globalisation. In the last two decades, our industry - both large and small - has restructured and become globally competitive."

The National Development Council on December 19 gave its unanimous endorsement to the Eleventh Plan (2007-12) setting an accelerated economic growth of nine percent per annum for the five-year period.

'Towards Faster and More Inclusive Growth' is the central theme of the plan that runs from 2007-08 to 2011-12 and seeks to lower poverty by 10 percentage points, generate 70 million new jobs, and reduce unemployment to less than 5 percent.

Pachauri is 'Nature' newsmaker of year 2007

International climate change campaigner R.K. Pachauri of India figures on the cover page of 'Nature', and the highly regarded science magazine has named him as its 'Newsmaker of the Year'.

The magazine, published from Britain, in its latest issue said: "Nature is pleased to name Rajendra Pachauri, the Indian engineer and economist, and chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as our inaugural Newsmaker of the Year." In its editorial, the magazine wrote that science, like history, is forged by individuals - even though both are forged on the back of a past whose inhabitants may have faded into anonymity.

"But the contribution of this year's winner to scientific affairs can be celebrated without reservation. Rajendra Pachauri's great strength is in building and organising institutions in the fields he understands best - and economics as they apply to issues of development.

"In that area, he has enjoyed a success that reflects his calm, yet fiercely driven personality. Over two decades he has built TERI, the Delhi-based energy and resources institute that he runs, into an organisation with offices around the world and several hundred staff. And in the past five years, he has chaired the great collaboration that is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)," the authoritative science magazine of the world elaborated. The magazine underlined the successful stint of Pachauri as IPCC chief and thus giving IPCC a best reward - Nobel Peace Prize of the year.

The magazine said protecting the vulnerable from the threat of climate change is about changing what we all do, and that requires political action as well as changes in personal behaviour.

"But collective action has a positive and uplifting side, too. The IPCC is a case in point. Its members have sacrificed time that they would rather have spent on new research to do something for the world at large. Their endless meetings and discussions, their intellectual clashes and warm mutual understandings, have produced an unparalleled catalogue of reliable knowledge - and authoritative assessments of remaining ignorance - on a scientific matter of utmost public concern.

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Akash missile test-fired

Akash Missile (surface-to-air multi-target missile) was successfully test fired in a series of firings, carried out at the Interim Test Range at Balasore, Orissa, in December. The missile, which has a strike range of 25 km, targeted the tow body of Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA) 'Lakshya' in a salvo of two missiles on a single target. The tests paved the way for its induction into the Indian Air Force. Akash operates in conjunction with the indigenously built Rajendra radar developed by the LRDE (Electronics and Radar Development Establishment) and is capable of tracking 64 targets and guide up to 12 missiles simultaneously. Compared with the United States' 'Patriot' missile, Akash is a part of India's guided missile development programme started since 1983.

8.3 million mobile users in Nov

India added a record 8.3 million wireless users in November, taking the total subscriber base to 225.5 million, telecom regulator TRAI said. In October, new wireless subscribers numbered 8.05 million. Fixedline user base continued to dwindle as more and more users shift to mobile phones. In November, the total user base fell to 39.31 million, from 39.41 million in October. India, which added 60.35 million new wireless users in April-November, is the world's fastest-growing mobile services market. Including fixedline users, the total telephone subscriber base grew to 264.8 million by November, 8.2 million more than the previous month, TRAI said in a statement on December 24.

HInvestment cap removed

In a significant development that is likely to increase participation of foreign players and big companies in small-scale industries (SSIs), the government has formally announced doing away with the 24 percent investment cap in the sector. To make this move effective, the government has taken a decision to repeal a restrictive clause, which limits equity participation in SSIs to 24 percent. The government notification will enable big industrial houses, both from the country and abroad, to set up SSI units in the sector, which has been restricted because of a limit of 24 percent equity participation by other companies.

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India fifth largest IPO market

Indian bourses saw over $8 billion worth of initial public offers in 2007, but this is just a shade higher than the world's singlelargest IPO that was brought by a Russian company, latest data show. The worldwide IPO activity raised a record capital of $255 billion till November in 2007, including $8.3 billion on Indian bourses, according to data compiled by international consultancy firm Ernst and Young. India was the fifth largest market in terms of number of IPOs and the seventh-largest in terms of the proceeds for the year, E&Y said.

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