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Monday, October 24, 2011
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Fixing politics prescribed for S Asian economy

Top experts want economies to grow together in an integrated region, prepare 73 do's for Saarc Summit

Political will and firm commitment of governments are a must for bringing about an integrated South Asia, a prerequisite for economic prosperity of the region.

This view was unanimous among the speakers at a two-day regional economic conference that ended in Dhaka yesterday.

The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a civil society think-tank, organised the conference titled “Fourth South Asia Economic Summit” at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the capital.

Representatives from the governments, private sectors and civil societies from eight South Asian nations attended the discussion with a vision to build a new region to help each other grow together.

The participants said effective cooperation did not build up in the region for lack of political will and bureaucratic complexities.

Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, former Saarc secretary general, said the dream of an integrated South Asia could only be realised through regional economic integration.

“This [integration] would require the political will and firm commitment of governments in a way it would not cause political tension, but enhance and insulate regional economic cooperation,” said Zaki, also a special envoy to the president of the Maldives.

Syed Babar Ali, pro-chancellor of Lahore University of Management Science, said South Asian leaders have to make a set of bold decisions in the upcoming Saarc summit to show their ability to realise the dreams of their peoples.

Dr Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, former foreign and finance minister of Nepal, said political system in a country fails when the government starts lying to its people.

“Absence of accountability and government monopoly result in bad governance,” said Thapa.

Prof Muchkund Dubey, former foreign secretary of India and president of Council for Social Development in India, said democracy is essential to face all the challenges in South Asia.

“Make it [democracy] work and participatory,” observed Dubey.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's adviser Gowher Rizvi said India and Bangladesh are coming out from the copybook of South Asian thinkers. The two prime ministers have made a number of encouraging decisions, which is a major step forward.

Besides 50 general recommendations, the summit adopted 73 recommendations for the Saarc summit to be held in the Maldives next month.

The speakers recommended, among others, energising and invigorating Saarc and engaging the civil society of the member countries with its activities.

Dealing with the global financial crisis, food shortage and the impact of climate change in an integrated way is among the recommendations.

For energy cooperation, the conference advised setting up a regional framework and institutional mechanism.

India as the lone representative in the G20 forum from the region has to voice concern on behalf of all the South Asian countries.

“Things become much easier when right persons are in place,” said Gowher Rizvi referring to the relations between India and Bangladesh.

He said the last two meetings between the two prime ministers created a ground for better future relations.

Rizvi added that both the prime ministers took a major step to move forward, which will benefit the people of the region.

He said after all these achievements, now is the time to boost connectivity, cooperation in power sector and joint management of river basin.

“We've to enhance connectivity and regional cooperation in sectors like power and water,” noted Rizvi.

Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of CPD who read out the recommendations, said, “The most passionately discussed topic was transport connectivity and how to create an infrastructure, which will support trade and investment growth.”

On water resources management, most of the speakers said Saarc has little to do in this regard. It is rather a bilateral issue.

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Combat terrorism and economic cooperation should get priority in summit level.if both India-Pakistan realise their own betterment they should cooperate each other,Economic and social stability in south Asian countries is greatly depend on both of this country.

: Mizanur Rahman

Failed again to pass the auto censor. i have two points to make..1. It is good academic exercise. Just look at the saarc declarations so far made, the same message of need for political will and firm commitment of the government are there. 2. just put required attention to the people of region who are targeted for receiving the benefit of saarc activities. I am sure this basic element of people empowerment and to enlisting their support is seriously missing. Let saarc be an organization of the people of the region and not for the conflicting political and economic interest groups. Take saarc out to the people.

: 207745 upfront


  • Tirtho Mahmud
    Monday, October 24, 2011 07:15 AM GMT+06:00 (224 weeks ago)

    It's as if were reinventing the wheel. Even a child knows intuitively what these think-tanks find out after long research. Bad politics is detrimental to economy? Wow! What a discovery!

  • Anonymous
    Monday, October 24, 2011 01:20 AM GMT+06:00 (224 weeks ago)

    Why is Sheikh Hasina going to attend G20 Forum. She goes to attend all the international meetings with a large number of delegates.

  • Raihan Sharif
    Monday, October 24, 2011 12:17 PM GMT+06:00 (224 weeks ago)

    These exercises are what gives 'academics' a bad name- futile efforts that better nobody's lot except those of academics in pursuit of seminar freebie, or some media exposure, or simply to hear the sound of their own self-important voices. A better use of the money spent for the conference might have been to clean up a stretch of Dhaka road outside the hotel where the conference took place so that the common man might have gotten some real relief from dirt, garbage and waste instead of having to put up with more high-sounding words from well-intentioned but very annoying people!





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