New Delhi: Culture, commerce and connectivity can be the building blocks for a better future for the people of South Asia, said Ms Sushma Swaraj, India’s External Affairs Minister.
The Minister was speaking at a SAARC event organised by the South Asian University (SAU) to commemorate the 30th SAARC Charter Day at India International Centre here. The event was well attended by Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Heads of international institutions, SAARC organisations, think tanks and many other dignitaries.
Ms Swaraj said economic growth and social progress are possible only in a peaceful and secure environment. As neighbours we must remain sensitive to each other’s security concerns and neither encourage nor undertake any activity that might be detrimental to the security and welfare of the neighbour, she added.
She also reiterated the remarks made by Prime Minister Modi at the SAARC Summit about cooperation in energy, trade, connectivity and overcoming common challenges.
The South Asian University, by building a culture of understanding and regional consciousness, by nurturing a new class of bright, liberal minds can play a transformative role in this process, said the Minister.
In her welcome address, Dr. Kavita Sharma, the President of SAU said the South Asian University embodies the idea of regional connectivity in more ways than one and a new generation of South Asians are being groomed who share collective experiences and contribute richly to a shared regional consciousness. The recently concluded 18th SAARC summit in its Kathmandu Declaration acknowledged the significance of education in the region and the positive contribution of SAU in this regard, she added.
India’s Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, in the eighteenth SAARC Summit, mentioned about the need for the South Asian University to collaborate with at least one university in each member country. Dr. Sharma said, initiatives have been taken and the strategy for the same is being worked out.
A panel discussion moderated by Prof. SD Muni followed where the challenges and opportunities of the regional body were discussed. The panellists include senior journalist and political commentator HK Dua, Professor Amita Batra from the Jawaharlal Nehru University and Prof. Sasanka Perera from the South Asian University.
Dr. Sharma, President SAU also inaugurated an international workshop on Data and Text Analytics attended by participants from all SAARC countries in the afternoon.