Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Regional Co-Operation among SAARC States: An Assessment of the Integrated Program of Action

Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Regional Co-Operation among SAARC States: An Assessment of the Integrated Program of Action

Article excerpt

Introduction

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an economic and political organization of eight1 countries in Southern Asia. "In terms of population, its sphere of influence is the largest of any regional organization: almost 1.5 billion people, the combined population of its member states" (Singh, 2012:1). Meetings of heads of state are usually scheduled annually; meetings of foreign secretaries, twice annually. It is headquartered in Kathmandu, Nepal. The objectives as mentioned in the "SAARC Charter are as follows:

Objectives

* To promote the welfare of the peoples 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 potentials;

* to promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia;

* to contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another's 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 interests; and

* to cooperate with international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes" (Kher, 2012: 12).

Literature Review

This part of the study reviews the available literature on the political and economic aspects of SAARC, twin deficits in South Asian economies: observations and empirical evidence, and foreign public capital and economic growth of developing countries.

On India and South Asia, the economic developments in the age of globalization, India's economic growth in a global economy: past and future, and emergence, severity, and contours of the fiscal deficit in India and South Asia have been discussed.

The review also includes human capital investment and development in South Asia, poverty in Pakistan and South Asia: concept, measurement, and analysis and, South Asia's trade and commercial relations with Canada.

Regional economic cooperation under SAARC: possibilities and constraints, repositioning SAFTA in the regionalism debate, market-oriented policy reforms and export-led industrialization.

Decentralization of governance and development, corruption in South Asia: causes and consequences, and military expenditure in South Asia: a case study of economic irrationality, and SAARC at crossroads: the fate of regional cooperation in South Asia.

SAARC Political & Economic Aspects

Kher's (2012) publication on "SAARC Political & Economic Aspects'' introduces with the beginning and development, scope and sphere, significance and importance of SAARC, and also discuss in details about its organizational setup and functioning process. "Although, SAARC is a cultural, economic and commercial association, aimed at creating a free zone, which may ultimately turn into a unified geographical entity, like European Union, yet it has its political shades and aspects." Hence, this study discusses political factors also.

The first chapter in Part 1, "South Asia at a Glance: A Taxonomy of Growth Challenges," by the editor of the book, Anjum Siddiqui (2008) provides a general overview of South Asia's political economy and compares its performance to other regions. Using comparative data, the work briefly examines the region's history, human development status, economic and trade structure, and sets a context for regional development challenges. The stylized facts of this study highlight an immediate need for action by respective South Asian governments and a call to move beyond lip service, rhetoric, and dressed-up statistics to address both literacy and health along with improving the investment climate, and, most important, substantially improving governance indicators. …

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