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The SAARC saga

Swati GargGlory Dwarkesh

Indian Institute of Mass CommunicationDhenkanal

With the combined efforts of:

Globalization has shrunk the world into a global village.It has enabled people to connect both virtually and geographically.This calls for co-operation among nations for the achievement of welfare.Common Interests have enabled nations to connect and work together.



HISTORYSAARC(South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) was formed under Article 52 of United Nations Charter.Idea first conceived by President Zia-Ur-Rehman of Bangladesh during 1977-78.In May 1980, formal call for SAARC regional cooperation issued to all by him.First meeting of foreign secretaries of seven countries- Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan held in Colombo in April 1981.Formally established on December 8,1985 after four and a half years of preparation.Afghanistan became eighth member of SAARC in April 2007 at 14th SAARC summit.

Integrated Programme of Action(IPA) - Due to geographical proximity, the 12 areas of common interest for regional cooperation were identified:AgricultureHealth & rural developmentMeterologyTelecommunicationPostal servicesTransportScientific and technological developmentWhy SAARC?

SportsArts and culturePrevention of drug trafficking and abuseWomen developmentEducation

a. Cooperation within the framework of the Association is based on respect for the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, noninterference in the internal affairs of other states and mutual benefit.b. Such cooperation is to complement and not to substitute bilateral or multilateral cooperation.c. Such cooperation should be consistent with bilateral and multilateral obligations of the member states.d. Decisions at all levels in SAARC are taken on the basis of unanimity.e. Bilateral and contentious issues are excluded from its deliberations.


i. To promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life;ii. To accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the regionand to provide all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realise their fullpotentials;iii. To promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia;iv. To contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another's problems;v. To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural,technical and scientific fields;vi. To strengthen cooperation with other developing countries;vii. To strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters ofcommon interests; andviii. To cooperate with international and regional organizations with similar aims andpurposes.


The SAARC region is a landmass of 3.3% of the world area and has one-fifth of the population and 9.12% of total world economy.Member Countries All the SAARC countries can be categorized into different groups. Firstly, there are three land-locked countries namely Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan.Secondly, there are two Islands such as Sri Lanka and Maldives and Thirdly the three countries India, Pakistan and Bangladesh which have the Indian Ocean in the South and South West and the Indo-Gangatic plains stretching along these countries.


Established in Kathmandu 16 January 1987.It is headed by Secretary GeneralThe Secretariat coordinates and monitors implementation of activities, prepares for services and meetings, serves as a channel of communication between the associations and its member-states and other regional organizations.Present Secretary General is Arjun Bahadur Thapa of Nepal (1 March 2014- present)


Geographical positions

As an organization, SAARC mainly operates through six apex bodies which ensure regional cooperation on multiple levels:SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI) : Intra-regional tradeSAARCLAW (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in Law): to disseminate information and ensure concerns and developments South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA) :Strengthening and serving accounting professionals South Asia Foundation (SAF) : regional co-operation South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC): ending all forms of violence against childrenFoundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL): Strengthening cultural connectivityRecognised bodies

SAARC Preferential Trading Agreement(SAPTA) To promote and sustain mutual trade and economic cooperation within SAARC region through the exchange of concessions.Recognition of special needs of least developed contracting states and agreement on concrete preferential measures in their favour.The establishment of Inter-Governmental Group(IGG) to formulate an agreement to establish SAPTA by 1997 was approved in sixth summit held in Colombo in 1991.Agreement was signed on 11 September 1993 and came into force on 7 December 1995. TRANSITION FROM SAPTA To SAFTA

South Asian Free Trade Agreement(SAFTA)Agreement reached at 12th SAARC summit at Islamabad on 6 January 2004.It led to free trade and agreement of goods paving the way for South-Asian Economic Union on the lines of EU.The exchange of mutual experience among the countries is more relevant, cheap and cost effective and provides a vast scope for mutual cooperation in various areas. Mostly agriculture will continue to dominate these economies for many years to come. The economy development such as food for growing population, fodder for livestock, raw material and market for industries are the main market goods.

AustraliaChinaUnited States- 2006JapanMauritius-2007MyanmarSouth Korea-2006Iran-2007European Union-2006OBSERVERS

Myanmar(Applied for full membership)Turkey (Observer status)Russia (Observer status)South Africa (Observer status)POTENTIAL FUTURE MEMBERS

SAARC decades

1991-2000 SAARC decade of the girl child2001-2010 SAARC decade of the rights of the child2006-2015 SAARC decade of poverty alleviation2010-2020 SAARC decade of intra-regional connectivity

Bangladesh- Dhaka 1985India-Bengaluru 1986Nepal-Kathmandu 1987Pakistan-Islamabad 1988Maldives-Male 1990Sri Lanka- Colombo1991Bangladesh- Dhaka 1993India New Delhi 1995Maldives- Male 1997Sri Lanka-Colombo 1998


11.Nepal-Kathmandu 200212.Pakistan-Islamabad 200413.Bangladesh- Dhaka 200514.India- New Delhi 200715.Sri Lanka Colombo 200816.Bhutan-Thimpu 201017.Maldives-Addu city 201118.Nepal-Kathmandu 201419.Pakistan(likely to be held)- Islamabad Nov 2017


Nuclearisation (Pakistan) 1. Cross-border terrorism2. Civil warsPoverty and unemploymentHigh budget deficits and low growth ratesInflationary pressureUnfavourable trade balanceDeveloped countries pulling the third-world countries downLack of intra-regional and inter-regional cooperation


Indias big-brother statusThe three nations boycotting is a healthy sign for us.Absence of even one member country leads to postponement/cancellation of the summit.The remaining four countries(Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives) cannot hold the summit.Simultaneous cornering of Pakistan by Bhutan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh along with India itself marks a victory over cross-border terrorism.Strong market hold of India.Present RELEVANCE TO INDIA

Official website of SAARC