Saturday, February 4, 2012

SAARC Countries - Way Forward


SAARC Countries – Way forward

This presentation is a dynamic platform to find out a novel Development Plan for the growth of 8 member countries of SAARC that can become a model Growth Plan for the entire humanity

The Saarc countries house 23.4% of world population in just 2.96% land area.  The total GDP (PPP) is only 6.66% of the world GDP.  Thus, the Saarc countries are extremely thickly populated, have low GDP in comparison to world average.  With their growth one fourth population of the world can lead a Peaceful, Prosperous and Happy life.


Country
Population
Area
Density
 GDP (PPP)
GDP per person
HDI
Unit
Nos
Sq kms
Per sq km
$ Billion
US $

India
1,210,193,422
3,287,263
364.9/km2
4060.000
$3,339
increaseincrease
0.519
Pakistan
170,600,000
79,605
214.3/km2
464.897
$2,791
increaseincrease
0.49
Bhutan
708,427
38,394
18.0/km2 
3.875
$5,429
0.619
Nepal
26,620,000
147,181
199.3/km2 
35.813
$1,270
0.458
Bangladesh
142,319,000
147,570
964.42/km2
258.608
$1,572
0.5
Sri Lanka
20,238,000
65,610
308.5/km2
106.500
$5,220
0.691
Maldives
394,999
298
10,036.9/km2
2.931
$9,005
0.702
Afghanistan
29,835,392
647,500
43.5/km2
30.012
$966
0.398
Total
1,600,909,240
4,413,421

4,962.636


World
6,840,507,000
148,940,000

74,540,000


Percent of World
23.40
2.96

6.66



The most critical impediment in the growth of these 8 neighboring countries is the network of terror which has taken deep roots in one of the member countries.  The terror network was set up with the active support of State establishment of the country concerned to grab area of another country and to establish its control in another neighboring country.  According to a latest news report (Eco Times 1.3.2012):
'Pakistan's Mortal Enemy Within
'Day before yesterday there were heart-rending scenes in Kohistan district of Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.  Gunmen stopped a convey of buses, ordered selected passengers to get off and then killed 16 of them.  The victims were from the minority Shia community.  Days earlier, there was another sectarian attack in Kurram Agency of Fata, that killed 26 Shias.  Days before that, there was another.  In fact, hardly a month passes in Pakistan without sectarian massacres.  


'Sane people in Pakistan say the real threat to the country's social fabric does not come from India, Afghanistan, the US or the army's grip over the country's affairs.  It comes from the ideology of hate propagated freely by religious extremists.  After successfully banishing Hindus, Christians and Ahmadis from main-stream society, it is now the turn of Shias.
....
'With the coming to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 1996, and the post 9/11 cataclysm in Pakistan, sectarian strife became a one-sided affair.  Sunni sectarian groups like the SSP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi plugged their lot with the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the jihadi group fighting in Kashmir...'


Fortunately for the humanity, the State establishment of Pakistan has started shrinking its support to these extremist groups.  Pakistan has begun extending its hand of friendship and mutual co-operation towards India.  With the establishment of peace in the region, this part of the world, which houses 23% population of the world, shall see rapid progress in the days to come. Another irritant of LTTE in Sri Lanka has already been eliminated.   


Now let us begin with an introduction of the Saarc:
At a glance
Member Country
Capital
Afghanistan
Bangladesh
Bhutan
Republic of Ind
Ia
Maldives
Nepal
Pakistan
Sri Lanka

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an organisation of South Asian nations, founded in December 1985 by Ziaur Rahman and dedicated to economic, technological, social, and cultural development emphasising collective self-reliance. Its seven founding members are Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Afghanistan joined the organization in 2005. Meetings of heads of state are usually scheduled annually; meetings of foreign secretaries, twice annually. It is headquartered in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The 16 stated areas of cooperation are agriculture and rural, biotechnology, culture, energy, environment, economy and trade, finance, funding mechanism, human resource development, poverty alleviation, people to people contact, security aspects, social development, science and technology; communications, tourism .
  Members States
  Observers States
Headquarters
South Asian
Membership
Government
 - 
 - 
Establishment
December 8, 1985
Area
 - 
Total
5,130,746 km2 (7th1)
1,980,992 sq mi 
Population
 - 
2009 estimate
1,600,000,000 (1st1)
 - 
Density
304.9/km2
789.7/sq mi
GDP (PPP)
2009 estimate
 - 
Total
US$ 4,382,700 million (3rd1)
 - 
Per capita
US$ 2,779 
Currency
See footnote 2
Time zone
(UTC+4½ to +6)
1
If considered as a single entity.
2
A unified currency has been proposed.
Present currencies (ISO 4217 codes bracketed):
Afghan afghani (AFG) • Bangladeshi taka (BDT) •
Bhutanese ngultrum (BTN) • Indian rupee (INR) •
Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR) • Nepalese rupee (NPR) •
Pakistani rupee (PKR) • Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)

Objectives

The objectives of the Association as defined in the Charter are:      
  •  To promote the welfare of the people of South Asia and to improve their quality of life;
·                    To accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the
            region and to provide all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to   
            realize their full potential;
·                    To promote and strengthen selective self-reliance among the countries of South   
            Asia;
·                    To contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another's
            problems;

  • To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields;
·        To strengthen cooperation with other developing countries;
·                    To strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters  
of common interest; and
·                    To cooperate with international and regional organisations with similar aims and  
purposes.

Principles

The principles are:
·                    Respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, political equality and independence   
of all members states
·                    Non-interference in the internal matters is one of its objectives
·                    Cooperation for mutual benefit
·                    All decisions to be taken unanimously and need a quorum of all eight members
·                    All bilateral issues to be kept aside and only multilateral(involving many  
Countries) issues to be discussed without being prejudiced by bilateral issues
Afghanistan was added to the regional grouping on 13 November 2005,  With the addition of Afghanistan, the total number of member states were raised to eight (8). In April 2006, the United States of America and South Korea made formal requests to be granted observer status. The European Union has also indicated interest in being given observer status, and made a formal request for the same to the SAARC Council of Ministers meeting in July 2006. On 2 August 2006 the foreign ministers of the SAARC countries agreed in principle to grant observer status to the US, South Korea and the European Union.  On 4 March 2008, Iran requested observer status. Followed shortly by the entrance of Mauritius.

Secretariat

The SAARC Secretariat was established in Kathmandu on 16 January 1987 and was inaugurated by Late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal.

It is headed by a Secretary General appointed by the Council of Ministers from Member Countries in alphabetical order for a three-year term. He is assisted by the Professional and the General Services Staff, and also an appropriate number of functional units called Divisions assigned to Directors on deputation from Member States. The Secretariat coordinates and monitors implementation of activities, prepares for and services meetings, and serves as a channel of communication between the Association and its Member States as well as other regional organizations.

The Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of the Secretariat  which was signed by Foreign Ministers of member countries on 17 November 1986 at Bangalore, India contains various clauses concerning the role, structure and administration of the SAARC Secretariat as well as the powers of the Secretary-General.

In several recent meetings the heads of state or government of member states of SAARC have taken some important decisions and bold initiatives to strengthen the organisation and to widen and deepen regional co-operation.

The SAARC Secretariat and Member States observe 8 December as the SAARC Charter Day1.

Regional Centers

The SAARC Secretariat has established various regional centres in member states. The 13th being SAARC Arbitration Council established at Islamabad in 2010. Each regional centre is managed by a governing board. The GB has representatives of each of the member state and SAARC Secretariat.

Political issues

SAARC has intentionally laid more stress on "core issues" mentioned above rather than more decisive political issues like the Kashmir dispute and the Sri Lankan civil war. However, political dialogue is often conducted on the margins of SAARC meetings. SAARC has also refrained itself from interfering in the internal matters of its member states. During the 12th and 13th SAARC summits, extreme emphasis was laid upon greater cooperation between the SAARC members to fight terrorism.

South Asian Free Trade Area

Over the years, the SAARC members have expressed their unwillingness on signing a free trade agreement. Though India has several trade pacts with Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, similar trade agreements with Pakistan and Bangladesh have been stalled due to political and economic concerns on both sides. In 1993, SAARC countries signed an agreement to gradually lower tariffs within the region, in Dhaka. Eleven years later, at the 12th SAARC Summit at Islamabad, SAARC countries devised the South Asia Free Trade Agreement which created a framework for the establishment of a free trade area covering 1.6 billion people. This agreement went into force on January 1, 2006. Under this agreement, SAARC members will bring their duties down to 20 per cent by 2009.

SAARC Youth Award

The SAARC Youth Award is awarded to outstanding individuals from the SAARC region. The award is notable due to the recognition it gives to the Award winner in the SAARC region. The award is based on specific themes which apply to each year. The award recognises and promotes the commitment and talent of the youth who give back to the world at large through various initiatives such as Inventions, Protection of the Environment and Disaster relief. The recipients who receive this award are ones who have dedicated their lives to their individual causes to improve situations in their own countries as well as paving a path for the SAARC region to follow. The Committee for the SAARC Youth Award selects the best candidate based on his/her merits and their decision is final.
(Source: Wikipedia)

Strength

·        Huge trained manpower at a very low cost
·        Huge market for all kinds of products
·        Hue potential for tourism development
·        Vast mineral assets
·        Spiritually enlightened people – trustworthy, laborious, sincere, honest,
·        Human-friendly climate round the year.  People from extremely cold countries can safely make it their second home and work place during cold winters.
·         
Weakness
  • Political corruption due to absence of proper system of remunerating politicians and bureaucrats officially commensurate to the services they are rendering.
  • Pitfalls of multi-party democracy
-          In democracy numbers matter.  Hence, parties are constrained to admit unworthy, unqualified and criminals if they are ‘winnable’ in elections.
“Times of India – 7.2.12
Congress fields murder accused
Raja Gavari, a notorious gang leader and murder accused, is the Congress candidate from Kalwa in Thane.  Some party workers are upset as Gavari is on the most waned list of the police and was declared an absconder.  He is said tohave filled in his nominaion papers from his hideout and they were submitted by aides.’ TNN.
TOI 7.2.2012
“Where Crime Pays
As many as 38% of total contestants in the first phase of UP (India) assembly elections face criminal charges.  If anything, it highlights the failure of political parties to put legalblocks to, or otherwise prevent, history-sheeters from entering politics.  Rather than proscrastinating on the issue, it’s time the government  legislate to prevencriminally charge-sheeted individuals from contesting elections.’
- In Coalition Governments the Main party is unable to check corruption by coalition partners and implement its parties if not approved by any one partner even though having a small number of MPs.
Threat
  • Terrorism in a member country is the biggest threat for free movement of people and goods affecting development of the region.
Times of India 7.2.12
New Delhi: Hafiz Saeed, chief of Pakistan’s top terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamat-ud Dawa (JuD) has re-entered mainstream Pakistani politics in an avatar that may haveserioussecurity implications for India, the US and even Pakistan.
‘Saeed’s new quasi-political outfit, Difa-i-Pakistan Council (Pakistan Defence Council), an umbrella organization for more than 40 religious, political, sectarian and jihadi outfits and former inelligence officials, has started out with an aggressive narrative against India and the US…. Sadded and LeT have been responsible for numerous terror strikes against India, including the biggest of them all – the 26/11 mumbai attacks…’
  • Tensions between member countries
-          Between India – Pakistan
-          Between Pakistan – Afghanistan
-          A big section in Bangladesh is opposed to India
-          Nepal has developed into a hotbed for Pakistan’s terror elements
Opportunity
  • Open  market without much competition for all sorts of industries and businesses
  • Vast scope  for agricultural products and spices exports
  • The region has vast potential to develop energy from renewable sources like water, sun and air.
  • Tension between Pakistan and India is receding
Times of India 7.2.2012
‘Pak can’t afford another war over Kashmir: Gilani
Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday described Kashmir as a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy, but called for a need to resolve the dispute “through diplomacy and dialogue” as his country “cannot afford wars in the 21t century”.
“Four wars have already been fought over the issue of Kashmirandthe region remains a flashpoint. However, in the 21st century we can not afford any more wars” Gilani said…”
“He said his cabinet had approved the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for India with consensus.  “The decision was meant to hold trde talks”, he said….’


Way forward
  • Biometric identification of population as being implemented in India
  • National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme  as being implemented in India
(To be continued…)

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