2. SAARC: Its OriginThe South Asian Association for Regional Afghanistan Cooperation (SAARC) is an organization ofSouth Asian nations, founded in December1985 anddedicatedtoeconomic, Bangladeshtechnological,social,andculturaldevelopment emphasizing collective self-reliance. Its seven founding members are BhutanBangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives,Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan India joined the organization in 2005. Meetings ofheads of state are usually scheduledannually; meetings of foreign secretaries, Maldivestwice annually. It is headquartered inKathmandu, Nepal. Nepal The 11 stated areas of cooperation are:agriculture; education, culture, and sports; Pakistanhealth, population, and child welfare; theenvironment and meteorology; rural Sri Lankadevelopment (including the SAARC YouthVolunteers Program); tourism; transport;science and technology; communications. 3. The concept of SAARC wasfirst adopted by Bangladeshduring 1977, under theadministration of President HistoryZiaur Rahman. In the late1970s, SAARC nationsagreed upon the creation ofa trade bloc consisting ofSouth Asian countries. Theidea of regional cooperationin South Asia was againmooted in May 1980. Theforeign secretaries of theseven countries met for thefirst time in Colombo inApril 1981. The Committeeof the Whole, which met inColombo in August 1985,identified five broad areasfor regional cooperation.New areas of cooperationwere added in the followingyears. 4. Objectives The objectives of the Association as defined in the Charter are: to promote the welfare of the people of South Asia and to improve their quality of life; to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to provide all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potential; to promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia; to contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one anothers problems; to promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields; to strengthen cooperation with other developing countries; to strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters of common interest; and to cooperate with international and regional organisations with similar aims and purposes. 5. The SAARC Secretariat was established inKathmandu on 16 January 1987 and wasinaugurated by Late KingBirendra Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal.It is headed by a Secretary GeneralSecretariatappointed by the Council of Ministers fromMember Countries in alphabetical order for athree-year term. He is assisted by theProfessional and the General Services Staff,and also an appropriate number offunctional units called Divisions assigned toDirectors on deputation from MemberStates. The Secretariat coordinates andmonitors implementation of activities,prepares for and services meetings, andserves as a channel of communicationbetween the Association and its MemberStates as well as other regionalorganizations. The Memorandum of Understanding on theestablishment of the Secretariat which wassigned by Foreign Ministers of membercountries on 17 November 1986 atBangalore, India contains various clausesconcerning the role, structure andadministration of the SAARC Secretariat aswell as the powers of the Secretary-General. In several recent meetings the heads ofstate or government of member states ofSAARC have taken some important decisionsand bold initiatives to strengthen theorganisation and to widen and deepenregional co-operation. The SAARC Secretariat and Member Statesobserve 8 December as the SAARC CharterDay1. 6. South Asian Free Trade Area Over the years, the SAARCmembers have expressed theirunwillingness on signing a freetrade agreement. Though India hasseveral trade pacts with Maldives,Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka,similar trade agreements withPakistan and Bangladesh havebeen stalled due to political andeconomic concerns on both sides.In 1993, SAARC countries signedan agreement to gradually lowertariffs within the region, in Dhaka.Eleven years later, at the 12thSAARC Summit at Islamabad,SAARC countries devised theSouth Asia Free Trade Agreementwhich created a framework for theestablishment of a free trade areacovering 1.6 billion people. Thisagreement went into force onJanuary 1, 2008. Under thisagreement, SAARC members willbring their duties down to 20 percent by 2009. 7. Countries in Focus1. BANGLADESH2. BHUTAN3. INDIA4. NEPAL 8. 1.Bangladesh-Location Bangladesh is Located in the north-easternpart of South Asia. The majestic Himalayasstand some distance to the north, while inthe south lays the Bay of Bengal. There isWest Bengal border on the west and in theeast lie the hilly and forested regions ofTripura, Mizoram (India) and Myanmar.These picturesque geographical boundariesframe a low lying plain of about 1,47,570square kilometer criss-crossed byinnumerable rivers and streams. Mightyrivers are the Padma (Ganges), theBrahmaputra (Jamuna) & the Meghna andthe Karnafuli. Bangladesh offers many tourist attractions,including archaeological sites, historicalmosques and monuments, longest naturalbeach in the world, picturesque landscape,hill forests and wildlife, rolling tea gardensand tribes. Tourists find the rich flora andfauna and colorful tribal life very enchanting.Each part of the country offers distinctlydifferent topography, flavors and food. It ishome to the Royal Bengal Tigers, freshwaterpink dolphins, historical temples made of redearth. Some of the better known tourist attractionsare: Srimangal, where miles of tea gardensare located, Mainamati, Mahasthangarh,Paharpur for archaeology, Rangamati, Kaptaiand Coxs Bazar for sight seeing, and theSundarbans for wild life and the greatestMangrove forest of the world, and Foys Lakefor scenic beauty. 9. Bangladesh-Places of Interest Historical places: National Memorial, Central Shahid Minar, Martyred Memorial,, Bahadurshah Park Curzon Hall Baldha Garden, Natore - Dighapatiya Rajbari, World War II Cemetery, Sagordari, Jessore Mujibnagar Memorial Gandhi Asram Hills & Islands: Rangamati - the lake district, Kaptai- The lake town, Bandarban - the roof of Bangladesh, Khagrachhari- the hilltop town, Mymensingh Moheshkhali Sonadia Island Forest & Jungle: Sundarban, Wari Bateshwar Mahasthangarh Paharpur Mainamati, Shait Gombudge Mosque, Kantajis Temple Lalbagh Fort, Sonargaon , Ahsan Manzil 10. Bangladesh- Festivals Pahela Baishakh Independence Day Eid-e-Miladunnabi Eid-ul-Fitr Eid-ul-Azha Muharram Durga Puja Christmas Rabindra & NazrulJayanti 11. Bangladesh- Dress Bangladeshi women habitually wear Sarees. Jamdani was once world famous for itsmost artistic and expensive ornamental fabric. Moslin, a fine and artistic type of clothwas well-known worldwide. Naksi Kantha, embroidered quilted patchwork clothproduced by the village women, is still familiar in villages and towns simultaneously.A common hairstyle is Beni (twisted bun) that Bangalee women are fond of.Traditionally males wear Panjabis, Fatuas and Pajamas. Hindus wear Dhuty forreligious purposes. Now-a-days common dresses of males are shirts and pants. Bangladeshi people have unique dress preferences. Bangladeshi men wear panjabion religious and cultural occasions, lungi as casual wear and shirt-pant on formaloccasions. Shari is the main dress of Bangladeshi women. Sari weaving is atraditional art in Bangladesh. Shalwar Kamij is quite popular, especially amongyounger women. Some women in urban areas also wear pants, skirts and tops. 12. Bangladesh- Cuisine Panta Ilish - a traditional platter ofPanta bhat with fried Hilsa slice,supplemented with dried fish (Shutki),pickles (Achar), dal, green chillies andonion - is a popular serving for thePohela Boishakh festival. Bangladesh is famous for its distinctiveculinary tradition, and delicious food,snacks and savories. Boiled riceconstitutes the staple food, and isserved with a variety of vegetables,fried as well as curries, thick lentilsoups, and fish and meat preparationsof mutton and chicken, and more rarelypork and beef by certain groups.Sweetmeats of Bangladesh are mostlymilk based, and consist of severaldelights including Roshgulla, Sandesh,Rasamalai, Gulap Jamun, Kalo Jamun,Chom Chom. Several other sweetpreparations are also available. Bengalicuisine is rich and varied with the useof many specialized spices andflavours. Fish is the dominant source ofprotein, cultivated in ponds and fishedwith nets in the fresh-water rivers ofthe Ganges delta. More than fortytypes of mostly freshwater fish arecommon, including carp varieties likerui (rohu), katla, magur (catfish),chingi (prawn or shrimp), as well asshuki (dried sea fish). Salt water fish(not sea fish though) Ilish (hilsa ilisha)is very popular among Bengalis, can becalled an icon of Bengali cuisine. 13. 2. Bhutan- Location Bhutan, is alandlocked state inSouth Asia, located atthe eastern end of theHimalayas andbordered to the south,east and west by theRepublic of India andto the north by thePeoples Republic of China. Bhutan is separatedfrom the nearbycountry of Nepal to thewest by the Indianstate of Sikkim, andfrom Bangladesh tothe south byWest Bengal 14. Bhutan-Places of Interest Paro Takshang Thimpu Punakha Wangdi Phodrang Tongsa Bumthang Mongar Trashigang 15. Bhutan- Festivals Once a year a dzong or important village may hold a religious festival, or Tsechu. Villagers from thesurrounding district come for several days of religious observances and socializing whilecontributing auspicious offerings to the lama or monastery of the festival. The central activity is afixed set of religious mask dances, or cham, held in a large courtyard. Each individual dance takesup to several hours to complete and the entire set may last two to four days. Observation of thedances directly blesses the audience and also serves to transmit principles of Tantric Buddhism tothe villagers. A number of the dances can be traced directly back to Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyalhimself, the founder of Bhutan, and have been passed down essentially unchanged since themid-17th century. Prior to dawn on the final day of the tsechu a huge tapestry, or thongdrel, is unfurled in thecourtyard of the dzong for several hours. The mere sight of it is believed to bring spiritualliberation. The thongdrel is rolled up before the rays of the morning sun can strike it. 16. Bhutan- DressAll Bhutanese citizens are required to observe the national dress code, known asDriglam Namzha, while in public during daylight hours. The rule is enforced morerigorously in some districts (dzongkhag) than others. Men wear a heavy knee-length robetied with a belt, called a gho, folded in such a way to form a pocket in front of thestomach. Women wear colourful blouses over which they fold and clasp a largerectangular cloth called a kira, thereby creating an ankle-length dress. A short silk jacket,or toego may be worn over the kira. Everyday gho and kira are cotton or wool, accordingto the season, patterned in simple checks and stripes in earth tones. For special occasionsand festivals, colourfully patterned silk kira and, more rarely, gho may be worn. Additional rules of protocol apply when visiting a dzong or a temple, or when appearingbefore a high-level official. Male commoners wear a white sash (kabney) from leftshoulder to opposite hip. Local and regional elected officials, government ministers,cabinet members, and the King himself each wear their own colored kabney. Women weara narrow embroidered cloth draped over the left shoulder, a rachu. 17. Bhutan- Cuisine The staple foods of Bhutan are red rice(like brown rice in texture, but with anutty taste, the only variety of rice thatgrows in high altitudes), buckwheat,and increasingly maize. The diet in thehills also includes chicken, yak meat,beef, pork, pork fat and mutton. Soupsand stews of meat, rice, ferns, lentils,and dried vegetables spiced withchillies and cheese are a favourite mealduring the cold seasons. Zow shungo isa ricedishmixed withleftover vegetables. Ema datshi, madevery spicy with cheese and chillies, akinto chili con queso, might be called thenational dish for its ubiquity and thepride that Bhutanese have for it. Otherfoods include jasha maru, a chickendish; phaksha paa and fried rice. Dairyfoods, particularly butter and cheesefrom yaks and cows, are also popular,and indeed almost all milk is turnedinto butter and cheese. Popularbeveragesinclude: butter tea,black tea, locally brewed ara (rice wine), and beer. Spices include: curry,cardamom, ginger, chillies, garlic,turmeric, and caraway. When offered food, one says meshumeshu, covering ones mouth with thehands in refusalaccording toBhutanese manners, and then gives inon the second or third offer. 18. 3. India- Location India is a country in South Asia. It isthe seventh-largest country bygeographical area, thesecond-most populous country withover 1.2 billion people, and the mostpopulous democracy in the world. Home to the ancientIndus Valley Civilization and a regionof historic trade routes and vastempires, the Indian subcontinent wasidentified with its commercial andcultural wealth for much of its longhistory. Four of the worlds majorreligionsHinduism, Buddhism,Jainism and Sikhismoriginated here,whereas Zoroastrianism, Christianityand Islam arrived in the 1stmillennium CE and also helped shapethe regions diverse culture.Gradually annexed by theBritish East India Company from theearly 18th century and colonized bythe United Kingdom from themid-19th century, India became anindependent nation in 1947 after astruggle for independence which wasmarked by non-violent resistance ledby Mahatma Gandhi. 19. India-Places of Interest A Glimpse into Northern India Golden Triangle Tours Grand Tours Of India India Deluxe Trips India Royal Tours Indian Mixture Majestic Palaces Rajasthan in Colour Rustic Rajasthan Majestic Himalayas Tiger Safari Tours Wildlife in TheRajasthan Cultural Tours of india Best Of South India Cultural Tours of SouthIndia Essential India Cochin Tours Gandhis Gujarat &Navratri Pilgrimage CulturalTours Eastern India 20. India- Festivals India, being a multi-cultural and multi-religious society, celebrates holidays andfestivals of various religions. The four national holidays in India, theIndependence Day, the Republic Day, the Gandhi Jayanti,and 1st may are celebratedwith zeal and enthusiasm across India. In addition, many states and regions havelocal festivals depending on prevalent religious and linguistic demographics. Popularreligious festivals include the Hindu festivals of Navratri, Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi,Durga puja, Holi, Rakshabandhan and Dussehra. Several harvest festivals, such asSankranthi, Pongal and Onam,"Nuakhai" are also fairly popular. Certain festivals in India are celebrated by multiple religions. Notable examplesinclude Diwali, which is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, and Buddh Purnima,celebrated by Buddhists and Hindus. Islamic festivals, such Eid ul-Fitr, Eid al-Adhaand Ramadan, are celebrated by Muslims across India. Sikh Festivals, such asGuru Nanak Jayanti, Baisakhi are celebrated with full fanfare by Sikhs and Hindu.Adding colors to the culture of India, the Dree Festival is one of the tribal festivals ofIndia celebrated by the Apatanis of the Ziro valley of Arunachal Pradesh, which is theeasternmost state of India. 21. India- DressTraditional clothing in India greatly varies across different parts of thecountry and is influenced immensely by local culture, geography andclimate. Popular styles of dress include draped garments such as sarifor women and dhoti or lungi for men; in addition, stitched clothes suchas churidar for women and kurta-pyjama and European-style trousersand shirts for men, are also popular. In India, a persons social status is perceived to be symbolized by his orher attire. Indian dress etiquette discourages exposure of skin andwearing transparent or tight clothes. Most Indian clothes are madefrom cotton which is ideal for the regions hot weather. SinceIndias weather is mostly hot and rainy, majority of Indians wearsandals. Worn by women on their forehead, the bindi is considered to be ahighly auspicious mark in Hindu religion. Traditionally, the red bindi (orsindoor) was worn only by the married Hindu women, but now it hasbecome a part of womens fashion. Some Indian traditions consider thebindi to be representative of the third eye. 22. India- Cuisine The cuisine in India is classified into three majorcategories. Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. Satva which standfor balance, Rajas stands for passion, and Tamas standsfor indulgence. Food is consumed according to the lifestyleof the person. For example: A King has to be aggressiveto defend his country, he would be taking food whichwould give much passion and that aggressiveness which isrequired. When a person tries to lead his life in want ofself realisaiton, he would prefer a Satvic food or known asSattvic diet, which would help to keep his mind in balance.Tamasic food or known as Static foods is to be taken onlyif its required, like consumption of Alcohol. This is thereason why in many Indians try to abstain drinking. The multiple varieties of Indian cuisine are characterizedby their sophisticated and subtle use of many Spices andHerbs. Each family of this cuisine is characterized by awide assortment of dishes and cooking techniques.Though a significant portion of Indian food is vegetarian,many traditional Indian dishes also include: chicken, goat,lamb, fish, and other meats. India is known for its love for food and spices, and it playsa role in everyday life as well as in festivals. Indian cuisinevaries from region to region, reflecting thevaried demographics of the country. Generally, Indiancuisine can be split into 5 categories northern, southern, eastern, western and north-eastern. Despite this diversity, some unifying threads emerge.Varied uses of spices are an integral part of foodpreparation, and are used to enhance the flavor of a dishand create unique flavors and aromas. Cuisine acrossIndia has also been influenced by various cultural groupsthat entered India throughout history, such as thePersians, Mughals, and European colonists. Though thetandoor originated in Central Asia, Indian tandoori dishes,such as chicken tikka made with Indian ingredients, enjoywidespread popularity. 23. 4. Nepal- Location Federal Democratic Republic ofNepal, is a landlocked sovereign statelocated in South Asia. It is located inthe Himalayas and bordered to thenorth by thePeoples Republic of China, and to thesouth, east, and west by theRepublic of India. Kathmandu is thenations capital and the countryslargest metropolis. Nepal has a rich geography. Themountainous north has eight of theworlds ten tallest mountains,including the highest point on Earth,Mount Everest, called Sagarmatha inNepali. It contains more than 240peaks over 20,000 ft (6,096 m) abovesea level. The fertile and humid southis heavily urbanized. By some measures, Hinduism ispractised by a larger majority ofpeople in Nepal than in any othernation. Buddhism, though aminority faith in the country, is linkedhistorically with Nepal. Many Nepali donot distinguish between Hinduism andBuddhism and follow both religioustraditions. There are 3 differentbuddhist traditions: HimalayanBuddhism, Buddhism of KathmanduValley (mostly Mahayana andVajrayana), and also the TheravadaBuddhism. 24. Nepal-Places of Interest Kathmandu Patan Pokhran Bhaktapur Kathmandu Kathmandu Durbar Square Taleju temple Jagannath temple Kal Bhairav Temple: King Pratap Malla Statue: Kumari Ghar Kasthamandap Temple Syambhunath Temple Lumbini Janakpur Chitwan Royal Bardia National Park Tansen Gorkha Annapurna Region Everest Region Langtang 25. Nepal- FestivalsSeveral of the festivals of Nepal last from one day to several days. Dashain is the longest and the most important festival of Nepal. Generally Dashain falls in late September to mid October, right after the end of the monsoon season in Nepal. It is "a day of Victory over Demons". Tihar is another important festival of Nepal.Other important festivals include Buddha Jayanti (the celebration of the birth of Buddha); Maha Shivaratri, a festival of Lord Shiva, and during Maha Shivaratri festivities, some people consume excessive drinks and smoke charas. Sherpas, mostly located at higher altitudes and in the Everest region, celebrate Mani Rimdu, for the good of the world. Most festivals include dancing and music and eating all kinds of local delicacies. A variety of foods is consumed during festivals and on special occasions. If one has to taste Nepali food, Newa cuisine is a must have; a festive meal, like one served during a marriage, is a real treat, and include vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes. 26. Nepal- Dress Mens Clothing: Daura-Suruwal, typicallytermed as Labeda-Suruwal is thetraditional Nepali dress. The dress hasseveral religious beliefs identifying itsdesigns and has therefore remained thesame from the years. The Daura has eightstrings that serves to tie itself up aroundthe body. Eight is the lucky number inNepali mythology. Also, the Daura has fivepleats or Kallis, signifying Pancha Buddhaor Pancha Ratna. And the closed neck ofthe Daura signifies the snake around theLord Shivas neck. Womens Clothing: The Nepali dress forwomen is a cotton sari (Guniu), a clothgarment worn with a blouse. Women inNepal wear a sari-like garment called aguniu. The guniu can be woven fromcottons or silk fabrics. In Nepal, the sari iscommonly draped around the waist andworn with a separate shawl like garmenton the upper body. This style of draping iscalled Haku patasi. Sherpa Dress:Traditional Sherpa dressconsists of a knee-length robe woven ofyak wool. This garment is similar for bothmen and women and is worn with yakwool pants. Boots made of yak hide andstuffed with dried grass for warmth weretraditional. Today, many Sherpas haveopted for Western dress, including cowboyhats and boots. 27. Nepal- CuisineA typical Nepalese meal is dal-bhat-tarkari. Dal is a spicylentil soup, served over bhat (boiled rice), served withtarkari (curried vegetables) together with achar (pickles)or chutni (spicy condiment made from fresh ingredients).The Newar community, however, has its own uniquecuisine. It consists of non-vegetarian as well as vegetarianitems served with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.Mustard oil is the cooking medium and a host of spices,such as cumin, coriander, black peppers, sesame seeds,turmeric, garlic, ginger, methi (fenugreek), bay leaves,cloves, cinnamon, pepper, chillies, mustard seeds, etc.,are used in the cooking. The cuisine served on festivals isgenerally the best. The food of Nepal is as diverse as the country itself. TheNepalese recipes are quick to cook and good to eat.Nepalese food is famous for its nutrition level andtempting taste. Whilst Nepalese cuisine is somewhatbasic, it certainly does not lack in flavor, making extensiveuse of spices and flavorings such as ginger, garlic,coriander, pepper, cumin, chilies, cilantro, mustard oil,ghee and occasionally yak butter. Come let us savoursome of the famous dishes of Nepal. Famous Nepalese CuisineGundrook- Dheedo is a sugar-free dish made of wheat,maize and dried green vegetable.Alu Tama means Potato Bamboo Shoots. It is a uniqueand classic Nepali curry flavor dish.Vegetable Pulao (Fried Nepali Rice) is popular waysrice is served during the parties and events.Masu is spiced or curried meat (usually chicken, mutton,buffalo or pork) with gravy. Served with rice, it is a maincourse dish, very popular in Nepal.Vegetable Thukpa (Egg Noodles)Tibetan Vegetable Thukpa is one of the main food. DuringTibetan new year celebration Losarthe dish is a part ofcelebration and tradition for the Nepalese.Chatamari regarded as Newari pizza, Chatamari is a flatbread.