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'Think South Asia' to be the Motto for Mutual Growth: Pallam Raju

India News

 

Monday June 09, 2014

India, Think South Asia, Regional Cooperation, Pallam Raju  
 

"Hinting upon how countries like Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh have already benefited from deepening their economic cooperation with India, Pallam Raju said, “the trust deficit” that comes in the way of cooperation must be dealt with rightly which, in return, would yield to “a climate of change and the positive side of growing together with India would be appreciated."

 

HNF Correspondent

 
 

India is emerging as “an economic power house” in South Asia and “all countries in the region have an opportunity to link up with the Indian economy and improve their own prospects of growth”, said Union Minister of Human Resource Development, M M Pallam Raju at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) while speaking at the inaugural session of the international conference on South Asia, “Prospects for Stability and Growth in South Asia”, on November 6, 2012.

Hinting upon how countries like Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh have already benefited from deepening their economic cooperation with India, Pallam Raju said, “the trust deficit” that comes in the way of cooperation must be dealt with rightly which, in return, would yield to “a climate of change and the positive side of growing together with India would be appreciated”.

 

“The present intra-SAARC trade is only 4 per cent of the region’s global trade. There is enormous potential of intra-regional trade and investment that we must not leave untapped,” Pallam Raju insisted.

Hailing the ‘democratic moment’ that the South Asian region has witnessed, the minister urged the South Asian nations not to be complacent but “work towards reinforcing the processes of change by building more capable institutions, improving governance, tackling the problem of corruption, reaching out to the vulnerable sections of the society and strengthening the feedback loops.”

Insisting that “Think South Asia” should be the motto for all of us to connect with one another and build bridges across artificial divides that inhibit the process of regional integration, Pallam Raju said that the “Initiatives taken by the SAARC forum provide excellent frameworks for cooperation.”

Further, throwing light on the global financial crisis that is also casting its shadow in the South Asian region, the minister urged the regional community to “institutionalize regional efforts for cooperation at various levels” to combat the situation while urging that the finance ministers and the central bank governors should come together and discuss the crisis at the earliest.”

Instead of wasting energies on mutual differences, the South Asian states need to focus on the region’s rich “human and natural resources” and its “demographic dividend” in the form of its vast youth population and use them for strengthening the foundations of democracy and ensuring transparent governance and inclusive development, said the minister.

While Prof S D Muni, Senior Visiting Fellow at IDSA, critiqued the very idea of stability giving his analytical opinion about the situation prevailing in most of the countries in the region that are all affected by political uncertainty and fractured political consensus, he stressed upon the fact that the issues leading to conflicts in different states remained unaddressed. “Therefore South Asia would continue to be haunted by instability in the days to come”, he said.

While talking about the ongoing process of democratisation in their countries and the challenges they confront, delegates from Myanmar, Maldives and Afghanistan highlighted the common problems of lack of strong institutions, poor governance, corruption, irresponsible media and corrosive role of religion in politics as the primary challenges on the way of all-round progress.  Dwelling on Pakistan, an Indian analyst, argued that an interventionist judiciary, a well-entrenched army and immature opposition and above all a partisan media would pose a critical challenge to consolidation of democracy in Pakistan.

The two day conference that is to continue till November 7, 2012, is the sixth in the series of annual South Asia conferences that IDSA has been holding since 2007.

 
 

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