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SAARC Development Fund

The agreement to be signed for setting up of a SAARC Development Fund by member countries during the Colombo Summit is a welcome development that is bound to inject new vigour to the SAARC movement.

It is hoped that this would be a harbinger of positive developments in the SAARC movement which hitherto had been viewed as cruising along listlessly after the pomp and ceremony of successive summits.

A fund of this nature would no doubt ensure benefits accruing to the people of the region in a more tangible form. It would also promote connectivity where the SAARC family would be involved in a common bond to further common interests.

It will also act as a catalyst for the promotion of SAARC ideals and realisation of its goals as envisioned by the founders of the movement in a positive and tangible form. However disbursement of the Fund among member countries should be undertaken with care so as to ensure equitable distribution.

The quantum of funds no doubt will vary according to the development requirements of each member country. The Fund should also be out of the scope of development assistance received by Member countries from other sources and should stand on its own.

According to our main story yesterday the proposed SAARC Development Fund (SDF) will provide financial assistance for economic, social and infrastructure development of SAARC member countries.

It is to replace the exiting South Asian Development Fund (SADF) and would serve as the umbrella financial institution for all SAARC development projects.

It is commendable that one of the priorities identified for funding is poverty alleviation. This is a scourge that has been plaguing the region from time immemorial making us a poor relation of the rest of the world, so to speak.

It is agreed that no progress can be made on the economic and social front where poverty reigns and if we as a region are to catch up with the rest of the world poverty should be tackled and tackled fast.

It is also appropriate that and the subject of women too have been targeted by the fund. This is one of the three windows recognised for funding from the SAF. The others are the infrastructure window and the economic window.

Poverty alleviation had been on the agenda of all past summits. Whether the plans had ever gone beyond the blueprint stage is any one’s guess considering the rampant poverty still plaguing the region.

It is hoped that Sri Lanka as the leader of the grouping for the next term will take necessary initiatives to ensure that SAARC goes all out to tackle the problem of poverty head on.

No doubt the task would be an enormous one and the challenge could not be met by a single fund of this nature.

However the creation of an apex fund such as this is a good start which could even draw other contributors who desire stability in the region.

It is also hoped that substantial resources would be devoted towards the emancipation of women in South Asia, a large percentage of whom are languishing in abject misery due to social backwardness and are still the subjects of ancient prejudices and indigenous cultures.

The emancipation of South Asian women had been a prominent topic over the years but apparently numerous workshops and elaborate sessions held in five star hotels on their behalf have not produced results.

It is therefore incumbent on SAARC as a grouping to take up the matter with all seriousness and ensure that South Asian women receive their rightful place among their communities.

Special attention too should be paid to the plight of children who are consigned to slavery and sexual abuse made worse by the spread of AIDS. We are still not aware of the dynamics in expending this Fund. A proper mechanism is vital to ensure proper selection of areas where the funding is to be directed.

Attention should also be focused on social development targeting the backward communities while not damaging cultural identities, indigenous practices and the social diversity that underlines the beautiful fabric of South Asia.

Realising the uniqueness of SAARC

The various member states have core competencies that can be pooled together for mutual benefit. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation represents 1.47 billion people, which is around 25 per cent of the world population.

Full Story

The economic integration of SAARC

Economic growth today is a collective matter in a very significant way. Not even a nation, big or small, can think of going it alone anymore. In fact, the whole world has become so inter-linked that every event no matter how small or where it happens is having an instant worldwide effect.

Full Story

Reviewing the SAARC process

The 15th summit of the SAARC has been scheduled to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from July 27 to August 3, 2008. Almost two decades after enunciation, the objectives in the Charter; despite some achievements in aggregate and discrete realms,

Full Story

 

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