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India to Attend G-7 Meeting for First Time

India is set to attend the forthcoming finance meeting of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations in London. India's presence at the meeting reflects its rise on the world economic stage.

Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram says he will attend a meeting of finance heads from the Group of Seven nations in February in London.

He will join his counterparts from four other rapidly developing countries who have been invited to the meeting. Like India, Brazil and South Africa have been asked for the first time. China has been invited for the second time, while Russia has been attending the meetings for many years.

The G-7 nations are the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada. The group functions as a kind of global economic council.

Economist C.D. Wadhwa of the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi said the invitation to India reflects the growing global importance of one of the world's fastest-growing economies. "This is a recognition that India is an emerging (economic) power. It has already made the mark and by 2020 it will have much greater role to play, and therefore it is important for G-7 to involve it in the reshaping of any international economic order that they think about," he said.

In recent years critics have said the G-7 no longer reflects the reality of the global economy, and have advocated its expansion or reform to account for the rise of new economic powerhouses.

Mr. Wadhwa says any such changes will have to take into account China and India, which together are home to more than one-third of the world's six billion people, and which have both experienced rapid economic growth over the past few years.

India's economy grew 8.2 percent in the year ending April 2004, and is expected to grow another seven percent his year. Economists widely expect the nation of one billion people to sustain growth of around seven percent over the next decade.