Polity Notes

South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation

SAARC is an Economic & Political org of eight countries in South Asia. SAARC represents 170 crore of Population (21% of world's population), 3% of total world's area and have 9% share in total GDP of the world.

Background: The countries of south Asia had been facing the common problems of high population, poor literacy rate, poverty, low standard of living, poor hygience, poor health etc. Instead of co-operation, these countries had regular conflicts with neighbouring countries. In such a scenario, the then president of Bangladesh Mr. Zia-ur-Rehman proposed the creation of trade block consisting of South Asian Countries for their mutual benefits. His idea of trade block continued getting support and finally first SAARC summit was held on 8th Dec. 1985 at Dhaka (Bangladesh). 8th Dec. is also celebrated as SAARC DAY.

Initially SAARC Started with seven Countries India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan & Sri Lanka. Afghanistan joined SAARC in 2007 and became 8th member of SAARC.

SAARC summit meeting is held generally after every two years.

Areas of co-operation:

(1) Agriculture & rural dev, education, security & culture.

(2) Telecommunication, Science & Tech, Meteorology.

(3) Health & Population services, Information & Poverty alleviation

(4) Transport, Energy, Economic Trade & finance, Social Affairs.

(5) Human Resource Dev. Tourism, Environment, natural disasters, Biotechnology.

Motto of SAARC: Deeper Integration for peace & Prosperity

Focus of SAARC: Enhancing Connectivity between member states for easier transit a transport across the region.

The last (18th) SAARC Summit was held at Kathmandu on 26-27th Nov. 2014.

Foreign ministers of member countries signed an agreement on energy. Conservation (electricity) but two important agreement on vehicular Traffic & Railways could not be signed due to hostile behavior of Pakistan. In fact the then Pakistani PM Nawaj Sarif left the summit in midway.

India has been playing the role of big brother in SAARC. We have been helping Nepal to built Hydro-electric power plants. Nepal will sell electricity to us and this will earn revenue for Nepal and on the other hand, this will help us to combat power crisis in our country. We have been helping Nepal in building Railway Network, have gifted Parliament House to Afghanistan, built India-Afghanistan friendship Dam in Afghanistan for power generations & boost up irrigation facility there. We have been building roads in Afghanisation, improving telecommunication facilities in Srilanka, established SAARC University (South Asian University) at Chanakyapuri, N. Delhi. We have launched SAARC Satellite and will share the information & facilities available through this satellite for the benefits of all members of SAARC.

Secretariat: The Secretariat of SAARC is located at Kathmandu. (Nepal.) Secretariat is headed by Secretary General. The tenure of Sec. Gen. is 3 years. Mr. Abul Ahsan from Bangladesh was the first Sec. Gen. of SAARC.

Presently Mr. Esala Ruwan Weerakoon from Srilanka is the Sec. Gen. w.e.f. 1/3/2020.

Decision making: Decision at all levels are to be taken on the basis of. Unanimity and bilateral and contentious issues are excluded from the deliberations of the Association.

Observers & Guest Countries: China, European Union, USA, S. Korea, Iran, Myanmar, Australia, Mauritius and Japan do take part in SAARC Summits as observers & South Africa as guest country.

19th SAARC: Summit was originally scheduled to be held in Islamabad Pakistan on 15-16 Nov 2016. This submit was to be attended by head of state / govts of eight SAARC members & representatives of observers & guest state. Following the rising diplomatic tension after the URI terrorist attack, India announced its boycott of 19th SAARC Summit alleging, Pakistan's role in the same. Later Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan & Sri Lanka also pulled out of the summit culminating in an indefinite postponement of the Summit.

Pakistan again in year 2021 have expressed its desire to host SAARC Summit but no decision have been made till yet.

Potential Future Member: SAARC have been working well. Now more & more countries want to join SAARC. China & Myanmar have expressed interest in upgrading their status from an observer to full member of SAARC. Russia, and turkey have applied for observer status.