Resolutions adopted by Chairpersons of South Asia Foundation chapters - Mr. Kamal Hossain Bangladesh), Mr. Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup (Bhutan), Mr. Inder Kumar Gujral (India), Mr. Ibrahim Hussain Zaki (Maldives), Mr. Bhekh B. Thapa (Nepal), Ms. Salima Hashmi (Pakistan), and Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar Sri Lanka) - at the meeting on 9th-11th April 2002, at Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France.
The first meeting of SAF chairpersons was held at Villa Surya from 9th - 11th April 2002.
The Chairpersons noted with satisfaction that since the meeting arranged over a year ago by the SAF at plexus Technology at Vashi, India, in which IT Coordinators from the seven SAARC countries participated, the final course of training in the use of updated Dynamo portal suite at ATG Training Centre, Reading UK (4th - 12th March 2002) has been successfully completed.
The Chairpersons were pleased with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between WoridSpace Foundation and South Asia Foundation which allows SAF a free of cost link with AsiaStar satellite.
They also acknowledged with thanks the receipt of the related equipment comprising receivers and modems which SAF from WorldSpace Corporation - representatives of which also attended the workshop at Reading UK and instructed IT Coordinators in the use of the equipment for wireless transmissions through AsiaStar satellite.
The Chairpersons noted with satisfaction that the SAF has successfully implemented a number of collaborations with leading international institutions. The World Bank's Development Gateway and SAF have mutually set up a window to help communities, organizations, and individuals build partnerships, share ideas, and work together to provide information on development and education in the South Asian region.
The SAF has a working relationship with the UNDP that allow users to view carefully selected information on development programs being run by the two organizations in South Asia.
SAF has formalized a tie-up with the Professional Office of the Youth Programme in the Division of Communications and Public Information of the United Nations Environment Programme.
An agreement between the SAF and UNICEF's Voices of Youth program is now under discussion as it is in tune with the SAF's portal related activities.
The other agencies that have been contacted are WHO, EU, ECOSOC and UNHCR. The Chairpersons recommended SAF portal should also establish links with ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK and the WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANIZATION.
The Chairperson appreciated that the SAF Information and Documentation Centre which Prof. Mahendra Lama has built at 33-A Vasant Marg, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi-11 0057, is now being connected Online not only with related institutions and Universities in SAARC countries but could be accessed worldwide.
The Chairpersons agreed that now that the SAF portal could be uploaded directly by IT coordinators, it was their responsibility to finish the job of collecting and feeding the portal with in-depth basic information concerning their respective countries.
It was also decided that this job must be completed by the end of July 2002, and arrangements made to update information periodically.
The Chairpersons endorsed the UNESCO training programme on "Integrated Education, Health and Capacity Building for Adolescent Girls" in which vulnerable girls in SAARC countries will be given training in computers - thus enabling them to take up more lucrative and "respectable" professions.
To begin with, a nine-month training course has already started at Maiti Nepal on 30th March 2002, with 25 girls trained by SAF IT Coordinator in Kathmandu.
The Chair-persons approved the request from Ms. Anuradha Koirala, Director of Maiti Nepal, through SAF Chairperson-Nepal Ambassador Thapa for 10 more computers as the 5 computers Maiti has are not sufficient.
The Chairpersons agreed that a pilot project of South Asian Studies be established at the University of Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), and linked with other institutions and Universities in SAARC and other countries.
The establishment of such a web on SAF Online system would promote regional cooperation as it will enable students to qualify not only in South Asian studies but allow them a wider choice of the subjects taught in any of the other institutions.
The Chairpersons were pleased with the efficient and dedicated manner in which the Scouts Association in Bhutan organized the SAF Scouts Friendship Camp in Thimpu (21th-26th February 2002).
This cultural pageant of dance and music was attended by over five hundred boys and girls hailing from all the seven countries. It was agreed that similar scouts friendship camps should be annually organized in turn among the SAARC countries thus alternating between a big and a small country.
The Chairpersons expressed satisfaction at the launching of a SAF Community Email Service which will allow for the next year unlimited interaction among scouts and girl-guides who participated in the Scouts Friendship Camp in Bhutan.
The youngsters will be able to use this free-of cost facility to write essays and stories about their mutual experiences during the camp and after they went home. The Chairpersons approved the proposal that the winners of best essays and stories be nominated as "SAF Goodwill Ambassadors" and will be invited to participate in the next Friendship Camp in 2003.
The Chairpersons approved the financial support which SAF provided for the documentary film on the SAF Scouts Friendship Camp produced by Ekushey TV, Bangladesh, in collaboration with Bhutan TV, they agreed that this film should well be the first of a series of documentaries on themes of regional cooperation and development to be shown not only on South Asian TV channels but also internationally - a project which is now being formulated by a group of young TV entrepreneurs in South Asia.
The Chairpersons endorsed the offer which the SAF made in response to the request by Sri Lanka Government to match the contribution of SL 50 million Rupee allocation for the proposed SAARC Cultural Centre in Kandy, Sri Lanka - a project which was proposed by the SAARC Heads of State during the Summit Meeting held in July 1998.
The Centre would provide a focal point where artists from SAARC member states could gather and share their artistic knowledge and widen their experiences in the performing arts to foster mutual understanding among peoples of South Asian region.
ln conformity with the decision taken by the SAF Conference in Kathmandu, the Chairpersons accepted the UNESCO proposal to jointly organize the first Regional Conference for the SAARC countries on "Youth in the Contemporary Information Society - Needs, Role and Policies". The cost will be equally shared between UNESCO and SAF and, the Conference will be organized by the UNESCO's Regional Office in India and held on 22nd-25th November 2002, at the SAF office premises in New Delhi.
Chairpersons decided that to avoid controversy, the SAF portal should focus only on IT related grassroots projects undertaken by the SAF as well as on the related work being carried out by other NGOs and research institutions in the field of regional cooperation in SAARC countries and not on political news and views.
The Chairpersons recommended that two SAF scholarships (a girl and a boy) from each of the SAARC countries be given stipend to study at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, and those students who excel be given SAF fellowships enabling them to travel in at least four of the SAARC countries for a period of eight to twelve weeks and work on a theme relevant to regional cooperation.
The Chairpersons decided that as regional cooperation is SAF's leitmotiv, only those national projects will qualify for SAF support which satisfy the following two criteria:
that the proposed national projects must be linked to similar educational and development projects in at least two other SAARC countries and;
that Chairpersons proposing a project make a matching contribution in order to equalize with SAF's financial assistance. Worldwide experience shows that organizations such as the SAF could hardly function effectively and sustain themselves unless all the participating partners have a stake in their achievements and share equal responsibility and costs of projects.
The Chairpersons decided that should the following national projects already funded by the SAF continue, they must also conform to the above mentioned criteria:
a - The IT Training workshop for teacher trainers in two National Institutes of Education in Bhutan in which 58 teacher have been trained by Sunrise Computer System.
b - Establishment of a Computer Laboratory at Adh. Atoll AEC, Maldives.
c - A request from the Principal, Government College in Lahore, Pakistan, for a Visiting Faculty of Computer Sciences for which an Associate Professor and a Lecturer will be employed for the next two years.
d - The project undertaken by Sarvodaya Suwasetha Sewa Society, Sri Lanka, to house and rehabilitate teenage mothers.
The forty Model Health Sub-Centres (Adarsh Swastha Up-Kendras) called Sumitra Solar Clinics in Bastar tribal areas in Chhatisgarh, India, are functioning satisfactorily.
The Chairpersons decided to hereafter only the name the South Asia Foundation will be used and not Rainbow Partnership Organization (RPO). Thus, the respective chapters in each country will be called SAF-Bangladesh, SAF-Bhutan, SAF-India and so on, and the related nomenclatures will be modified accordingly.
The Chairpersons endorsed the letter which SAF Chairman-India, Hon'able Inder Kumar Gujral, has written to Ambassador QAMA Rahim, requesting the SAARC Secretary General to expedite SAF's recognition as a Regional Apex body under the SAARC/SUMMIT9/CM.1 8/3 rules.
The chairpersons promised to expedite registrations of SAF Chapters in their respective countries and open bank accounts.
The Chairpersons accepted the proposal made by Hon'able Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup during the SAF Conference in Kathmandu (11th -12th December 2001), that a system of video-conferencing be established between the seven SAF chapters to be used for expeditious implementation of SAF projects.
The Chairpersons felt that as Afghanistan is a part of South Asia, a way should be found to help the country which is in need of dire assistance as a result of the devastation caused by war.
They decided to set up a committee comprising Mr. Inder Kumar Gujral, Dr. Kamal Hossain and Mr. Madanjeet Singh to study the feasibility of incorporating Afghanistan as South Asia Foundation's eighth Chapter.
UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador
Founder, South Asia Foundation