The First Conference of the South Asia Foundation, 11th-12th December 2001, Kathmandu, Nepal

Conference Kathmandu, Nepal - 11th December 2001

South Asia Foundation

South Asia Foundation was launched on 11th-12th December 2001, at its First General Conference in Kathmandu, the seat of the SAARC secretariat.
From left to right: SAF-Nepal Chairman Ambassador Bhek B. Thapa; SAF-Bhutan Chairman Hon. Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup: Prime Minister of Nepal Hon. Sher Bahadur Deuba; SAF Founder Ambassador Madanjeet Singh; and SAF-Bangladesh Chairman Hon. Dr. Kamal Hossain.


The first Conference of the South Asia Foundation was attended by the South Asia Foundation Chairpersons and members of their Advisory board.

1. Mission Statement

Some of the members suggested that the mission statement of the South Asia Foundation should be broader and some of the wordings of the mission statement need to be changed. More specifically the activities should not only be related to the Information Technology and the target focus should be much broader than the South Asian youths alone.

2. Advisory Board Meetings
All the Advisory Boards of member countries have agreed to conduct the first ever meetings of their Boards by 25th January 2002 and decide on the actions to be taken on the following 2002 activities as declared by the South Asia Foundation Conference in Kathmandu.

3. Structures of the Organisation
Suggestions were also made with regard to having a proper and well designed structure of South Asia Foundation in all the member countries. This is necessary in order to carry out the mandated tasks in a uniform and coordinated manner.

There were also views that we should not create any structures which would make it bureaucratic and top heavy.

4. Diploma Course on South Asian Studies
The Conference was also appraised for the designing of a Diploma Course on South Asian Studies which is being introduced to the students and others in the fall semester of 2002.

The course has already been and the formalities are being done to host the course in a reputed University.

The Course content and modalities for conducting the Diploma will soon be circulated among the Advisory Boards for their suggestions etc.

5. Working guidelines for 2002 as decided by the SAF Kathmandu conference
The advisory board of each partner country will propose for funding by the South Asia Foundation projects and activities, in keeping with the general objectives and priorities that emerge through consultations among partners.
For the year 2002, the priority areas identified are:

- Use of RPO portal for training of teachers and distance education
- Quarterly prizes for suggestions and ideas on use of IT for education and development to be presented by school students

6. SAF-RPO Portal
After the portal design was presented by the RPO team the following decisions were taken with regard to the running of the portal. Many participants were of the opinion that the portal should be made as attractive and interactive as possible with a view to reach the target groups including the grassroots organizations.

  News and Views: Members unanimously decided not to put anything that will generate controversy in the news and views section of the portal. The members agreed to incorporate only those news and views and other commentaries in this section which have positive values in furthering the spirit of cooperation and development in the region.

Contents: Each member country will provide contents and other materials of its own on each head of the portal (Art/Culture, Education, Environment, Sustainable Development, Human rights, Trade/Commerce and Health). This means it is the responsibility of each SAF member country to provide the contents with proper sourcing and referencing.

IT Coordinator: Each member country will identify and designate an IT Coordinator to look into the technical and technological aspects of the portal on a regular basis. Some of the Chapters have already identified and designated their IT Coordinators. Other member countries will have to do so latest by 5th January 2002.

Content Providers: Each member country will also have a set of experts, journalists and writers with them as content providers to write on various issues identified in the portal on a regular basis.The member countries decided to draw up the first list of these contributors and circulate among other member countries; this list needs to be updated on a regular basis.

Content Editor: The SAF will identify an eminent and independent media man as Content Editor to supervise the editorial activities in the portal.

Content Uploading: The uploading of the selected and approved contents and inputs by each member country will be initially done in New Delhi. This is to ensure uniformity in each country’s contents and coordination.

Portal Launching: Each country will now start providing the contents. It will be launched by March first week.

Offline advertising: Each country will devise means and suggest ideas to make the portal as popular as possible. In this regard there were suggestions to devise some offline measures to advertise the portal.

The suggested measures included making the school / college / university editorial board members aware, organizing youth festivals, distribution of leaflets by the publishing houses, publication of a newsletter. Exclusive South Asian Cooperation Section: Besides various sections which have already been identified and developed in the portal, some members suggested that we should have an exclusive section on South Asian.

Friendliness: There were may suggestions to make the portal as friendly as possible. There were suggestions to incorporate a lot of funs, some suggested that there should be “text only options” without photographs and graphics to have a fast downloading.

7. Other Activities
All the member countries were informed about two major SAF events slated for the year 2002.Gathering of the Scouts and Guides of the South Asian countries to be held in Bhutan in February 2002. UNESCO Conference to be held in New Delhi in November 2002.