Remarks by India’s External Affairs Minister Ms Sushma Swaraj at The Ground Breaking Ceremony of South Asian University in New Delhi

June 03, 2015

President of South Asian University,
Distinguished faculty and dear students,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be associated with this auspicious and memorable event in the history of the South Asian University.

Whether it is an individual or an institution, owning your own house is always a proud moment. So it is today. I am happy that the South Asian University will have its permanent abode on this land very soon.

I recall that South Asian University owes its genesis to India’s initiative at the 13th SAARC Summit in Dhaka. India offered to host the university. Our objective was to establish a university dedicated to the region with world-class facilities, professional faculty, diligent students and brilliant researchers.

Such a University would forge a sense of South Asian consciousness by bringing together South Asian students in the common pursuit of quality education. I am glad that in the past decade the University has moved from a concept to actual reality on the ground. A campus of its own will add to the growing prestige of the University.

The establishment of the University is one of the most visible sign of transformation of SAARC from declaration to implementation. Incidentally, it is also the first international university in India. We are committed to bearing 100% of the capital cost of US$ 198 million towards the establishment of the University.

As Prime Minister Modi said in his speech at the 18th SAARC Summit, India’s vision for the region rests on the pillars of trade, investment, assistance, cooperation, people-to-people contacts and connectivity. In the coming days and years we will work assiduously to make the region more connected and more prosperous.

Cooperation in the field of education will be of paramount importance if we are to ensure improvement in the inter-linked destinies of the people of South Asia. We are taking several steps in this direction including through the use of modern means of communication.

We are in the process of extending our National Knowledge Network to all SAARC countries. This will allow students in South Asia to access digital libraries and network resources unimpeded. SAARC Satellite will also benefit the region in education and research.

An idea proposed by Prime Minister Modi during his speech at the SAARC Summit last year was that SAU should connect with at least one University in each of the SAARC countries.

I would like to compliment SAU for initiating partnership arrangements with institutions in each SAARC country. I believe that an MOU has been signed with Dhaka University and more such arrangements are in the pipeline.

Excellencies, Friends,

Five years is too a short a period in the life of a University, but this young University is moving in the right direction with state-of-the-art infrastructure, dynamic curricula and a globally-recruited faculty. The University provides a multicultural and stimulating academic environment to students from SAARC.

I am sure that the first brick we are laying today will grow into an edifice of excellence. I wish the South Asian University all success.

Thank you.