The Special Meeting of the SAF Governing Council

Conference New Delhi, India - 27th November 2006

The Special Meeting of the SAF Governing Council was held on Monday, 27th November 2006, at 09.00 am at the South Asia Foundation India Chapter Office, A-33 Vasant Marg, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi 110 057.

Welcome Address

1.1 Hon. Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup welcomed the distinguished delegates. In his brief introductory remarks, he thanked Ambassador Madanjeet Singh for having called this meeting and admired his dedication to the cause of regional cooperation. He said that “his vision has been a source of inspiration to us all and we should keep the flame of South Asia Foundation burning”. He then recapitulated the salient points discussed at the last Annual Meeting of the Governing Council held on 17th March 2006 in Paris. Thereafter, he requested Ambassador Madanjeet Singh to offer his comments and set the tone for discussions at the present Special Meeting of the Governing Council.

1.2 Ambassador Singh, while thanking Hon Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup for his kind remarks, expressed his gratitude to all the participants for sparing their valuable time to attend the meeting at a short notice. Explaining the purpose for calling this special meeting of the Governing Council, he said that since its establishment, SAF has been trying to promote regional cooperation through many ventures such as IT related projects, jointly designed courses by Open Universities in the SAARC region, thousands of scholarships through open universities and so on. But it is becoming increasingly clear that except for the people interaction, like the SAF Group Scholarships programme, no other SAF activity has adequately achieved its cardinal objective of Regional Cooperation and interaction among the young people. Therefore, it is essential to change direction and orientation of SAF’s programmes and activities, in a manner such that the focus should principally remain on Group Scholarships. The Group Scholarships have already been successfully demonstrated at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, and the School of Visual Arts, BNU, Lahore, wherein students from different SAARC countries learn and interact together.

Ambassador Singh also pointed out that the other programmes that have successfully promoted Regional Cooperation are the Friendship Camps — SAF Scouts Friendship Camps and the SAF-SOS Environmental Camps which need to be continued and strengthened. Hence, it is necessary not only to increase the number of Group Scholarships at ACJ and BNU, but also ensure that the Group Scholarships programme should become an integral part of the SAF funded Institutions/Centre of Excellence, and of other projects as at the SOS villages in SAARC countries.

Consequently, SAF-Madanjeet Singh scholarships in the present form need to be phased out completely once the existing commitments are met.

Ambassador Singh thanked Dr. Kamal Hossain and Hon. Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup for having recently come to see him in France and kindly helped him draft the MoU regarding the Institutions of Excellence to be signed between SAF and chairpersons of SAF chapters. This document will serve as a model to be used by all Chapters in future. This document has already been circulated to all the Chairpersons.



2.1 Hon. Mr. Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup then requested Hon. Mani Shankar Aiyar, SAF chairman of the host country (India), to preside over the current session (2006-2007).

2.2 In his opening remarks, Mr. Aiyar said that he is very happy to be associated with SAF and its activities and despite his busy ministerial responsibilities, he will spend as much time as possible as chairman of SAF-India. He introduced Mr. K. Sarwar Lateef to represent him in his absence.




Mr. Aiyar invited Hon. Dr. Raheen to deliver a report on the UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institute for Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage. Dr. Raheen stated, that following the initial payment of US$ 200,000/, the work to restore the Institute building at Chameli Hoozori in Kabul, started in 2004. The Institute has since been inaugurated on 13th July 2006. At present, the building has provisions for dormitories, an administrative office, classrooms and a kitchen. But as the building needs to be furnished, SAF has recently sent the SAF-Afghanistan account an amount of US$ 10,000/-.

Mr. Raheen proposed that to start with, two students from each of the different regions of Afghanistan may be trained for a period of two years. In the future, students from other SAF chapters could also be sent for training at the Institute. The amount of One Million US dollars initially stipulated in the Tripartite MoU signed by the Government of Afghanistan, UNESCO Director-General and Ambassador Madanjeet Singh, may be adjusted against the cost of administration of the Institute as well as on Group Scholarships within Afghanistan and for students from the other SAARC countries. Mr. Knox of the British Museum and Dr. Tej Singh, former director of the National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property, Lucknow, will shortly go and spend a week in Kabul in order to submit a report on the staff and administration of the Institute.


Hon. Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup made the following points:

Regarding the integration of the Madanjeet Singh Centre with the SAARC Institute of Forestry, Hon. Sangay Ngedup stated, that he is expected to meet with the Secretary General of SAARC and the Bhutanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the end of the year 2006, when he will discuss with them how SAF could function within the framework of SAARC Institute of Forestry and how SAF could fund this Institute of Excellence. He suggested, that as it will take some time for the Institute to become fully operational, students from SAARC countries to whom SAF Group Scholarships are allocated in Bhutan, may in the meanwhile, study at the Indian Institute of Forestry, Dheradun. Once the SAARC/SAF Institute of Forestry has been built, it will then be able to hold international workshops under the SAARC umbrella. This special relationship will be documented in the SAF MoU with the SAARC Institute of Forestry.

Hon. Sangay Ngedup stated that in the light of ongoing democratization of Bhutan, the national press is still in its infancy and very unprofessional. Hence Bhutan needs to train a number of journalists. He requested that apart from the two Bhutanese (a boy and a girl) who are at present studying at ACJ, Chennai under the Group Scholarship programme, SAF may offer 2 more scholarships to Bhutanese students. In response, Mr. Ram stated that ACJ will consider the request as soon as it is received formally.

Hon. Sangay Ngedup explained that, at present, there is no provision for NGOs to function in Bhutan. He has taken up this matter with his government and as soon as the regulations are established, he would register SAF Bhutan chapter as in other SAARC countries.

Ambassador Singh commented that as with Bhutan, Afghanistan might also send the Group Scholarship students for training at the National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property, Lucknow, until the Kabul Institute becomes operational.


In his introduction, Dr. Hossain stated that Group Scholarships are the tried and tested method of promoting Regional Cooperation – this is clearly indicated from the reports sent in from ACJ and BNU. Until recently, the Group Scholarships had no formal structure, however the current MoU, which Dr. Kamal Hossain & Associates have drafted, will formally integrate the Group Scholarships with SAF institutions of excellence in order to ensure Regional Cooperation: “When lawyers get together, borders disappear”, he remarked. In this context, Dr. Hossain stated that the BRAC University, Dhaka, will confer degrees and diplomas to students of South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (SIALS), Dhaka.

Explaining the MoU, Dr. Hossain said that as the initial investment for the first year might be slightly higher than US$ 200,000/-, this amount can be adjusted against later payments to SIALS. The funds allocated by SAF shall also cover the costs of Group Scholarships, which SIALS shall offer to its students. He reiterated that SIALS shall make a matching contribution in funds or kind against SAF’s financial assistance.

He also undertook to submit an annual Audit to SAF Governing Council and a progress report on the Institute. He supported the stipulation that SAF shall discontinue funding SIALS in case the Institute would fail to fully comply with SAF’s cardinal objective of promoting regional cooperation.

Hon. Mani Shankar Aiyar then handed over the chairmanship to Dr. Kamal Hossain.


In his report, Hon. Dr. Shaheed regretted that for some technical reasons, SAF-Maldives has not been able to open an account. However he was confident that it will be opened shortly. Dr. Shaheed also wanted some more students to be admitted in ACJ, Chennai.


Dr. Rita Thapa described the lessons learnt from the 50 Madanjeet Singh Scholarships so far given out in the country. She was keen on signing the MoU between SAF and the South Asia Madanjeet Singh Institute of Community Midwife, Council of Technical Education and Vocational Training, Nepal.

As far as the Nepal Centre of Excellence is concerned, a proposal for cooperation with the University of Kathmandu will be submitted including SAF Group of Scholarships so that the Nepal Centre of Excellence may be able to start by early 2007.

Dr. Thapa said that in the meantime, additional funds amounting to US$ 12,000/- will be required to enhance and update the current training programmes of scholarships. This sum will be a part of the current budget for the Mid-Wives training programme.

Later, funds will also be required to cover the cost of Group Scholarships in addition to the current scholarships. Under this programme two girls from each SAF chapter will go for training at the Nepal Centre for Mid-Wives nurses.


Speaking on behalf of Hon Mangala Samaraweera, SAF-Sri Lanka Chairperson, Mrs. Suganthie Kadirgamar presented a status report on the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS), Colombo.

She stated that the SAF Institute designed to focus on South Asian Studies, will be housed in LKIIRSS premises where students from across the region will do research on foreign policy issues relating to South Asia and the rest of the world.

Ambassador Singh stated that as in India, all SAF-Madanjeet Singh scholarships allocated to students of the Sri Lanka Open University shall be phased out completely once the existing commitments are met.

These scholarships will be replaced so as to meet the costs of Group Scholarships offered to research scholars in Institutions of Excellence as that of LKIIRSS.

Prof. Salima Hashmi then took over the chair from Dr. Kamal Hossain.


Dr. Siddhartha Kaul stated that in light of the replacement of 750 regular scholarships until now allocated to SOS with Group Scholarships, he requests that SOS students, who are currently in the process of continuing 2 -3 year degree/diploma courses, should continue to receive funds to complete their courses.

Dr. Kaul explained that logistical problems had prevented the holding of the SOS Environment Camp this year. However, arrangements have already begun for the next year’s camp In Abodabad, Pakistan. Dr. Kaul stated that at present it is not possible to increase the number of participants in the SAF-SOS Environmental Camps to above 40.

However, SOS will try to extend the period of the camps to 15 days; this will not include time for travel. The SAF’s grant amounting to US$ 25,000 annually shall remain the same for each camp.

Dr. Kaul proposed that should the SAF agree, SOS would gladly start a second series of camps for a slightly older age group (20–25 year olds), who have finished their basic high school/college education.

This ‘thematic camp’ shall focus on other relevant themes such as health, media etc., with emphasis on Regional Cooperation.



Prof. Hashmi, summarized the proceedings of the meeting and the resolutions adopted.

(I) It was decided to phase out the individual scholarships funded by SAF and instead fund Group Scholarships in view of the fact that they have been most effective in promoting Regional Cooperation.

(II) In the future, Group Scholarships would be increased and strengthened on the model of the scholarships allocated to the Asian college of Journalism (ACJ), Chennai and to the School of Visual Arts at Beaconhouse National University (BNU), Lahore.

(III) Group Scholarships shall be integrated with SAF Institutions of Excellence in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and shall be paid for by the long term SAF grants allocated to these projects.

(IV) It was stipulated that the SAF shall discontinue funding Institutions of Excellence in case they would fail to fully comply with the SAF’s cardinal objective of promoting Regional Cooperation.

(V) The SAF shall not fund any building to house the institutions of excellence nor invest in any other real estate project.

(VI) The present SOS individual scholarships would be phased out and instead Group Scholarships will be offered for vocational training in the SOS Institute in India.

(VII) SAF-SOS Environmental camps for 15-16 year olds shall be continued, in addition, another series of ‘thematic’ camps will be launched for young graduates from SAARC countries; the first such camp would be held at ACJ, Chennai, in December 2007.

(VIII) In view of Bhutan’s need for trained journalists, it was agreed that ACJ, Chennai, shall increase the number of Group Scholarships for Bhutan to four (two boys and two girls).

(IX) It was reiterated that the SAF shall not fund any project without at least a matching contribution in cash or kind against SAF’s financial assistance, as decided in 2002 by the SAF Governing Council at Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France.

The meeting ended with a vote of thanks to the Chair.


Governing Council

Afghanistan: Hon. Dr. Sayed M. Raheen
Bhutan: Hon. Mr. Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup
Bangladesh: Dr. Kamal Hossain
India: Hon. Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar
Maldives: Hon. Dr. Ahmed Shaheed
Nepal: Dr. Rita Thapa
Pakistan: Prof. Salima Hashmi
Sri Lanka: Ms. Suganthi Kadirgamar (representing Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Chairman, Sri Lanka chapter)

Special Invitees

Prof. Khalid Aftab, Vice Chancellor, Government College University, Lahore.
Dr. Siddhartha Kaul, SOS-KDI
Mr. K. Sarwar Lateef

SAF-India Officials

Mr. KJS Prasada Rao, CEO
Mr. Karan Khosla, Director of Operations


1. Welcome Address

Hon. Lyonpo Sagay Ngedup will welcome the delegates and introduce the report of the last Annual Meeting of SAF Chairpersons (March 17th 2006). He will also request Mr. Madanjeet Singh to briefly comment on the report.

Hon. Sagay Ngedup will request Hon. Mani Shankar Aiyar, SAF chairman of the host country, to preside over the current session (2006 - 2007).

2. Centres of Excellence

Mr. Aiyar will invite Dr. Raheen to deliver the progress report on the recently inaugurated UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institute of Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage, Kabul.

As the SAF Centres of Excellence will be the main item on the Agenda, Mr. Aiyar will invite Dr. Kamal Hossain to present the MoU which Dr. Kamal Hossain & Associates have  drafted for the SAF Madanjeet Singh Institute of Excellence in Bangladesh, to serve as a model for other chapters, a copy of which has already been circulated to SAF chairpersons.

3. Resolutions of the Governing Council

4. Any other item - with the permission of the Chairperson