CHANDIGARH, September 7: Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari today called for putting aside little differences by the members of the South Asian Association of Regional Countries to reap the greater demographic dividends not only in political terms but also for strengthening the economy as well. He said, India has always performed its role in fostering regional cooperation between South Asia, Middle East and Central Asia and it will continue to do so in future.
Addressing the SAARC Diploma Engineers Conference here today, Tewari said, South Asia is home to the two-fifth of the humanity with immense human resource. He said, while this presents a challenge, at the same time it provides an opportunity to reap the demographic dividend particularly in comparison to the aging populations around the world. He said, ever since the SAARC was founded in 1985 its growth may have been gradual but it has been steady at the same time and has enhanced the cooperation among the member countries. He cited the example of other regional associations, particularly the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) saying the South East Asia has “emerged as the best template of regional cooperation”.
In a similar way, he remarked, “SAARC is the platform of the South Asia” where the countries of the region while maintaining their individual identity have carved out a strong regional identity. The Minister pointed out, South Asia has a hoary past and convoluted legacy and yet the nations face some common challenges like poverty, hunger, illiteracy and infrastructure development which can be fought collectively with cooperation among each other. He said, the region had two extremities, one on the west and the other on the east. He said, the SAARC had the responsibility of ensuring that both these extremities Afghanistan in the West and Myanmar in the East are stabilised. He said, while the foreign forces are moving out of Afghanistan and the country was making progress towards normalcy, in Myanmar also the green shoots of democracy were becoming visible.
Tewari said, “Asia is an amalgam of sub regions like West Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, South East Asia and North Asia” and each of these regions has its own diverse set of challenges. He said, emerging from the yoke of imperialism post World War II and the ravages of the Cold War, the Asian Nations set about building their collective and individual identities. He said, the first move in this direction was made way back in 1946 by the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1946 by setting up Asian Relations Conference to foster cooperation among the Asian nations.
Congratulating the SAARC Diploma Engineers Forum for organising the event at Chandigarh, he hoped it will help and ensure in building up the technical linkages among the member countries which are important for building and developing the infrastructure. Among others present on the occasion included Kumarawady Ariyawansa, Chairman Apex Body of SAARC Diploma Engineers Forum, Mohd Shamsur Rehman, Secretary General of the form, AKMA Hamid, Satnam Dhanoa, Laxman Bahadur Rayomajhi all co-chairmen of the forum.