South Asia Foundation – Governing Council
In celebration of the 60th Anniversary of UNESCO and on the occasion of the SAF Governing Council Meeting, South Asia Foundation arrange performances of 40 outstanding dancers, singers and musicians representing the Oral and Intangible Heritage of South Asia
Opening of the meeting
The Hon. Lyonpo Sangay NGEDUP (Prime Minister of Bhutan; Chairperson of the SAF Governing Council), opened the meeting, and gave a warm welcome to Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, thanking him for providing the facilities for the meeting of the SAF Governing Council and for the magnificent presentation of traditional South Asian performing arts the previous evening. He said that the rainbow-coloured logo of the South Asia Foundation, including a white dove with eight eggs, symbolized so well the unity and diversity of South Asia, and Ambassador Madanjeet Singh’s dream of peace, prosperity and happiness for the region, a long-standing dream which Ambassador Madanjeet Singh had been able to begin making a reality when he had come into fortune. The South Asia Foundation had brought children together through scout jamborees, provided countless scholarships in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, and also brought professionals together from all over the region, building important chemistry between them. In that connection, he thanked the Director-General for UNESCO’s special recognition of Ambassador Madanjeet Singh at the sixtieth anniversary celebrations. The South Asia region had one-fifth of the world’s population, many of whom were desperately poor. The South Asia Foundation had given hope to millions by helping people to escape despair and poverty. He thanked Ambassador Madanjeet Singh for his pioneering dream of a better South Asia.
New Chairpersons of SAF Chapters
The Chairperson welcomed the new Chairpersons of the SAF India, Maldives and Sri Lanka Chapters, the Hon. Mani Shankar Aiyar, Minister of Panchayati Raj, India, who unfortunately could not be present, the Hon. Ahmed Shaheed, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Maldives, and the Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka.
The Hon. Ahmed SHAHEED (Foreign Minister of Maldives; Chairperson of the SAF Maldives Chapter), said that he was proud to have been appointed Chairperson of the Maldives Chapter, and hoped that the South Asia Foundation would be more active in the future in Maldives, where rapid transformations were under way. He expressed his appreciation to Ambassador Madanjeet Singh for the SAF initiative, and to his son, Mr. Jeet Singh, for taking over the presidency; he had been most impressed by his inspiring vision and focus. Finally, he indicated that the Maldives had endorsed the request for recognition of the South Asia Foundation as a regional apex body of SAARC. The Maldives was also developing various national and regional project proposals it hoped to submit to the Foundation.
The Hon. Mangala SAMARAWEERA (Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka; Chairperson of the SAF Sri Lanka Chapter) expressed his happiness and appreciation to have been appointed Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Chapter, even though the occasion was tinged with sadness owing to the tragic death of his predecessor, the Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar, one of the founding members of the South Asia Foundation. He hoped to be able to contribute in his own way to the progress of the Foundation. He had been particularly pleased to make the acquaintance of Ambassador Madanjeet Singh, a true Renaissance man and philanthropist of a kind he had thought no longer existed. He was honoured to have been invited to join the SAF family. Finally, he congratulated Mr. Jeet Singh on assuming the presidency of the South Asia Foundation, which he would assuredly take to new heights.
Tribute to the memory of Lakshman Kadirgamar
The Chairperson paid tribute to the memory of the Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, and Chairperson of the SAF Sri Lanka Chapter.
The Governing Council observed one minute’s silence in tribute to the memory of Lakshman Kadirgamar.
Introduction by Ambassador Madanjeet Singh, founder of the South Asia Foundation
Ambassador Madanjeet SINGH (Founder of the South Asia Foundation; UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador) said that he was overwhelmed by the undeserved compliments that he been paid to him. Since he had founded the South Asia Foundation in 2000, over 10,000 scholarships had been established for marginalized and deprived students in South Asian countries, joint courses had been designed between South Asian Open Universities in such fields as environment, and vocational training, emergency assistance had been provided in the wake of the recent tsunami in Sri Lanka and earthquake in Pakistan and India, and there had been rehabilitation of schools and education systems – all activities which were well integrated with UNESCO programmes, particularly those relating to poverty alleviation.
An agreement had been signed in March 2002 between the Director-General of UNESCO, the Government of Afghanistan, and the South Asia Foundation for the establishment of the Institute for Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage in Kabul, on which rapid progress had been made. A suitable building had been identified by President Karzai for the Institute, which would work not only on the Buddhist monuments destroyed by the Taliban in Bamiyan, but also on the numerous other damaged historical and artistic monuments in Afghanistan, including the Kabul Museum. The Institute was to function as a training institute in cultural heritage and restoration for all South Asian countries. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with the Director-General indicated that the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) would also be involved, as would the National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property, India (NRLC) in Lucknow, which would provide valuable consultancy assistance on the functioning of the Institute for Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage, which he hoped would open in one year’s time.
More generally, he understood that the Chairperson (the Prime Minister of Bhutan) had a proposal for a Forestry Centre in Bhutan, and in that connection said that the South Asia Foundation would welcome other proposals for the establishment of institutes and centres of excellence in the South Asian countries, which might be discussed in collaboration with the relevant UNESCO Sectors.
Madanjeet Singh Institute for Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage, Kabul
The Hon. Dr. Sayed M. RAHEEN (Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Afghanistan; Chairperson of the SAF Afghanistan Chapter) said that the South Asia Foundation had rendered valuable cultural and humanitarian services to the peoples of South Asia, and helped to foster understanding among them. He expressed gratitude to Ambassador Madanjeet Singh and the South Asia Foundation and to UNESCO for their services and cooperation. The agreement signed on 24th June 2004 between UNESCO, the South Asia Foundation, and the Afghan Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism for the provision by the South Asia Foundation of $1 million for the establishment of the Madanjeet Singh Institute for Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage was an important step for cultural relations among the South Asian countries. The building was now ready to house the Institute, which he hoped would attract students from other South Asian countries. In conclusion, he said that he hoped to discuss the possibility of future funding for the Institute from UNESCO once the $1 million in seed money had been exhausted.
Mr. Koïchiro MATSUURA (Director-General of UNESCO) thanked Ambassador Madanjeet Singh for the wonderful presentation of traditional South Asian performing arts on the previous evening, and said that it was rare for Room I to be so full for such events.
Regarding the matter under discussion, he said that UNESCO was keen to consider ways of pursuing cooperation with the laudable initiative of the Madanjeet Singh Institute for Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage, and noted that certain procedures needed to be followed. The number of UNESCO’s category 2 institutes was being expanded (category 1 institutes were operated directly by UNESCO, whereas category 2 institutes were operated by the host government, with cooperation from UNESCO). In any case, before cooperation could be agreed, formal proposals needed to be submitted to UNESCO’s Executive Board and General Conference. The requirements for a category 2 institution were that the centre must have a regional rather than a purely national perspective. With regard to future UNESCO cooperation with the Madanjeet Singh Institute for Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage, he hoped that further discussions would be possible with the South Asia Foundation and the Afghan Government.
H.E. Mr. Zaheer AZIZ (Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to UNESCO) said that the Institute for Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage project was exemplary. The building for the Institute was under renovation and had not yet been inaugurated. He urged those involved in the project to determine the Institute’s objectives, structure, expertise, functioning, and cooperation with other South Asian institutes and universities, and with UNESCO, with the utmost clarity. He cautioned that the $1 million initial grant would be spent rapidly, and hoped that it would be possible for the Institute to be recognized as a UNESCO category 2 institute.
Other candidates for SAF funding
Learning centre of excellence, Nepal
Dr. Rita THAPA (Senior Adviser to the Nepal Ministry of Health; Chairperson of the SAF Nepal Chapter) said that the project she wished to propose did not require buildings so much as a determination to use the knowledge and skills already available in order to reach the poorest young people and women. She wished to propose for SAF funding a research and learning centre of excellence to empower disadvantaged youth and women; the local partner would be the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) of Nepal, which was chaired by the Prime Minister, and was already the partner for implementing SAF vocational scholarships in Nepal. She also hoped for support from UNESCO. She invited SAF and UNESCO experts to examine further the possibility of cooperation with and funding for that project.
Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, India
Mr. N. RAM (Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, Chennai, India; SAF Advisor), making a PowerPoint presentation on the “Rationale and relevance of journalism education today”, said that journalism was vital to democracy, holding public authorities to account, public welfare, and protection of rights. It empowered citizens with information, analysis, insights and comment, and promoted the values of truth, freedom and independence, justice, and humanity. However, the media could be no better than its practitioners; while the traditional assumption was that journalism skills were learnt on the job or through short-term training, the need for education - which is much more broad-based - is being increasingly felt. Education in journalism has a proven record as a builder of not only journalistic skills and but also of necessary intellectual abilities.
The print and broadcast media were buoyant growth areas in Asia, where there was a growing demand for competent journalists. Journalism schools provided professional education and training, set higher standards and promoted best practices, and acted as incubators for creativity. The Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, India, held entrance exams all over India for its one-year post-graduate diploma programme (followed by internship) in journalism, whose graduates enjoyed a 100% placement rate. He strongly believed that prospective journalists benefited from a prior grounding in other disciplines – hence the emphasis on education at the post-graduate level. In particular, the College accepted large numbers of women – two-thirds of the current enrolment are women - and encouraged students with a scientific background to go into journalism.
Basic skills taught included reporting, writing, interviewing, editing, production, research, “sniffing out” the story, accuracy, verification, and critical thinking, and stress was laid on developing integrity, independence, civic-mindedness and commitment to freedom of expression. The seven crucial factors behind the success of a centre of excellence were: curriculum, faculty, teaching philosophy and methods, open admissions (scholarships, where needed), infrastructure and facilities, school-industry linkages, and placement. The College had a 1:12 faculty-student ratio, and laid great stress on the tutorial mode of teaching. He suggested that journalism schools could do much to combat the growing vice of plagiarism by rooting out any such inclinations from the outset.
The school had a new campus in a central location in Chennai, and hoped to build suitable facilities for the rising number of students. He thanked Ambassador Madanjeet Singh and the South Asia Foundation for helping to bring students from all over the SAARC region, including Afghanistan and Pakistan. In that connection, he noted that while Indian students applied for admission in an open competition, there was a need for a good, open selection process for the two SAF students (one man, one woman) from each of the other SAF countries, with greater attention being paid to disseminating information about the College in those countries.
Centre for South Asian Studies, Government College University, Lahore, Pakistan
Prof. Khalid AFTAB (Vice-Chancellor, Government College University, Lahore, Pakistan) said that Government College Lahore had been established 1864. The project in question concerned a former church on the college campus, which had been converted into a gymnasium, but was now in a state of disrepair. Ambassador Madanjeet Singh, a former student at Government College, had discussed the issue, and had kindly offered to help with the restoration of the building. National Engineering Services Pakistan (NESPAK) had drawn up a plan for the restoration and conservation of the heritage site, and it was expected that the work would be finished in a year’s time. The building would house a Centre for South Asian Studies, to be established in line with the vision of the South Asia Foundation; the Centre would undertake research required for the implementation of the SAARC Charter, and promote interaction among scholars from the SAARC region, in cooperation with other development agencies. The Centre would provide a platform for cross-disciplinary research and publication on important issues, such as cultural diversity, tolerance and regional cooperation, education, skills and human resources development, women, youth and children in South Asia, health and population issues, regional languages and literature, cross-cultural studies on social issues, poverty and trading blocs, agriculture and rural development, environment and sustainability, in pursuance of the SAARC objectives of promotion of the welfare of the people of South Asia, improvement of the quality of life, acceleration of economic growth, social progress, and cultural development. He hoped that that dream might soon be realized through the establishment of the Centre.
South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (SIALS)
Dr. Kamal HOSSAIN (Advocate of the Supreme Court, Dhaka, Bangladesh; Chairperson of the SAF Bangladesh Chapter) congratulated the South Asia Foundation on five years of successful activities, all of which helped people from the SAARC countries to interact and foster a shared vision of a South Asian community. The SAARC regional centres of excellence were a seminal concept which sought to harness the best and brightest human resources in South Asia in order to respond to the challenges of the age. As Prof. Amartya Sen had stressed, there was an integral link between human rights and development. The SAARC network of expertise was already functioning, providing inspiration and guidance.
The proposed Institute would allow South Asian students to do advanced post-graduate work on human rights and legal issues of relevance to the South Asian countries, which had a shared legal system and past, and the building of a South Asian community along the lines of the European Union. The Institute would ensure useful interaction for future lawyers and judges, and function as a centre of excellence for teaching and research education in common law and human rights, which were both a means to and an end of development.
The study group established to examine the feasibility of the Institute included Prof. Muniruzzaman, who had published on the Asian Energy Charter, and Dr Sharif, a Prize Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge, who was publishing a book on the World Trade Organization (WTO) with Cambridge University Press. Potential core senior faculty members had already been identified. The Institute would help to harness the enormous potential for cooperation.
A Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree would be awarded in South Asian law relating to regional integration and comparative studies of core areas of South Asian law. Course modules would cover the SAARC Charter, the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), the international legal framework for regional cooperation, WTO provisions regarding regional trade agreements, European law, multilateral agreements, institutions for regional cooperation in various fields, including human rights, labour, environment, energy and natural resources, trade, finance, and investment. The other degree to be awarded would be an M.A. in human rights and development, a multi-disciplinary course involving a law, economics, development studies, sociology and politics, adopting a holistic approach to human rights, with sustainable development as a central concern. Course modules would cover civil and political rights, social justice, economic rights, cultural rights, rights of women and children, and international and regional mechanisms for protection of human rights.
The Institute would be complementary to other institutions under consideration, particularly the Asian College of Journalism. There had been positive cooperation regarding the proposal from BRAC University, one of the best private universities in Bangladesh, which had a regional outreach. BRAC University would provide the premises and administrative infrastructure and legal framework. Any funds provided by the South Asia Foundation would be used for the faculty, the library, and Internet access.
Prof. Jamilur Reza CHOUDHURY (Vice-Chancellor of BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh) said that BRAC University, one of the top private universities in Bangladesh, with 1,900 undergraduates and 300 postgraduate students, had been involved in preparing the proposal for the South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies. In January 2006, 115 students from 12 countries had received their degrees from BRAC University, which already had nine undergraduate and six postgraduate programmes. Its Masters in Public Health (MPH) programme attracted students from all over South Asia and even as far afield as Latin America. BRAC University had an undergraduate programme in law leading to an LL.B. (Honours) degree, which would be supplemented by a Master’s programme to be run jointly by BRAC University and the proposed Institute, the LL.M. degree to be awarded by BRAC University on behalf of the Institute. BRAC University was looking forward to signing a memorandum of understanding formalizing that cooperation. BRAC University was also preparing to upgrade its present post-graduate diploma program in South Asian Studies to a Masters programme in South Asian studies, for which it hoped to receive support from the South Asia Foundation.
School of Visual Arts, Beaconhouse National University (BNU), Lahore, Pakistan
Prof. Sartaj AZIZ (Vice-Chancellor of Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, Pakistan) said that Beaconhouse National University (BNU) was a liberal arts university established two and a half years previously promoting research and interaction relating to South Asian history and culture. Over the past three years, the Madanjeet Singh Arts Scholarships Programme had financed 29 students from various South Asian countries at BNU, ensuring an enriched academic environment of cultural diversity and fruitful interaction between artists from different countries in a local South Asian setting. BNU was hoping to establish a new centre for art, architecture and design.
Construction of a new “green” campus for BNU had just begun 12 km outside Lahore. A separate building would be devoted to the School of Visual Arts and the School of Architecture and Design, where it was also hoped to locate the SAARC centre. The two schools offered a wide range of courses, including traditional fine arts, new media arts, textile design, jewellery design, electronic and print design, art criticism studies, and history of world art, in tandem with studio classes. Each year it was hoped to broaden the range of elective courses on offer, including miniature painting, product design, exhibition design, curator’s studies, and seminar courses on combining theory and practice. In September 2005, a pioneering architecture degree programme had been launched involving collaboration with eminent architects and aimed at bringing architectural creation closer into line with local history, materials and conditions throughout the SAARC countries.
The new institute of South Asian art, design and architecture would be run by a board of eminent artists, historians, conservationists, and architects from all over South Asia, and would be connected to a gallery of contemporary art. The institute would undertake research, development, publication, and documentation, and stage physical and virtual exhibitions of arts and crafts. It was hoped that with the support of the South Asia Foundation, the institute would help to build a growing network of South Asian artists and architects.
Prof. Salima HASHMI (Dean of the School of Visual Arts, BNU, Lahore, Pakistan; Chairperson of the SAF Pakistan Chapter), giving a PowerPoint presentation of the School of Visual Arts and the work of students from various South Asian countries, said that she had selected one of her brightest students, from Nepal, to demonstrate the work of the students at the School of Visual Arts. Seven Madanjeet Singh Arts Scholars would soon graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree. There had thus far been 29 students at the School from various South Asian countries, and it was hoped to reach a yearly rate of 16 graduates, who would without any doubt go on to become leaders in their field. All too many South Asians lived in conditions of conflict, poverty, poor education and health, unemployment and profound sadness, but it was that very sadness which inspired South Asian poets, artists and musicians to dream of a better future. That was why it was vital to offer talented young people the best possible education in art and design.
There was a tea break from 11.10 to 11.40 a.m.
South Asia Centre for Art and Culture (SACAC) at the former residence of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Mumbai, India
Dr. Karan SINGH (President of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), New Delhi, India) congratulated Ambassador Madanjeet Singh on the significant impact the South Asia Foundation had already had on the SAARC countries through its top-quality projects, and Mr Jeet Singh on the financial wizardry that had enabled the funding of the various worthwhile causes supported by the South Asia Foundation.
He said that South Asia was rich in cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, but also had a history of colonial subjugation which had caused it to fall behind in terms of economic development; the wealth from the region’s exploited resources had fuelled the industrial revolution in the West. The poverty that was so prevalent in South Asia, despite the region’s recent impressive information technology achievements, was thus a result of historical circumstances. He was particularly pleased that Afghanistan was to become the eighth member of SAARC, in view of its natural links to the other South Asian countries.
His proposal was for the South Asia Centre for Art and Culture (SACAC) in Mumbai, India, which would have the task of strengthening cultural relations between India and other countries, especially SAARC countries. Indeed, a number of outstanding Pakistani artists and singers, such as Sabri, Abida Perveen, Farida Khanum, had already visited India. The former residence of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, which had not been put to any positive use since Partition, was available to house the Centre; the house would continue to be called Jinnah House, as a mark of respect for that major historical figure. ICCR hoped to find photographs and artefacts from the period when Mohammed Ali Jinnah had lived in the house so as to recreate an authentic ambience. The Indian Government was spending $2 million on renovation by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) of the art deco building, which was due to be inaugurated in August 2007, in time for the 60th anniversary of Indian independence and the creation of Pakistan.
It was time to move on from past divisions and develop a strong South Asian regional solidarity, as Europe had done so spectacularly, and more recently South-East Asia. Culture would be central to that endeavour. The operating expenses of the Centre would be met by the Indian Government. Any assistance from the South Asia Foundation would be most welcome, whether for the Centres activities, library, theatre, conference centre, or secretariat, etc. ICCR undertook to ensure that the Centre was properly administered and functioned as a genuinely South Asian cultural centre. In that connection, it was especially significant that Jinnah House had been chosen to house the Centre, a gesture which he hoped would be reciprocated.
Mr. Pavan Kumar VERMA, (Director-General, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), New Delhi, India) gave a PowerPoint presentation of the proposed South Asia Centre for Art and Culture in Jinnah House, Mumbai, including the art gallery planned for the first floor.
Prof. AZIZ (BNU, Lahore, Pakistan) said that Pakistan had for many years been requesting the Government of India to be given Jinnah House in order to preserve it as a legacy of the Founder of the Nation, however no decision had ever been taken on that request. With relations improving, it had been hoped that the Government of India might finally agree. The proposal to use Jinnah House to accommodate the South Asia Centre for Art and Culture, however attractive that project might be, could therefore be counter-productive, since one of the objectives of the South Asia Foundation was to preserve, protect and respect the history, heritage and sensitivities of the other SAF countries. If the Government of Pakistan were consulted in advance, and agreed to the proposal, then the decision would naturally be acceptable. He was pleased to learn that the name Jinnah House would be kept, and hoped that one room might be set aside in the house for a permanent exhibition of objects that had belonged to Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and that space be reserved in the library for works relating to him. A further possibility would be to establish a SAF Advisory Council for the management of Jinnah House and the selection of artwork and photographs concerning Mohammed Ali Jinnah, a step which would be conducive to ensuring the participation of Pakistan in the activities of the Centre.
SOS Children’s Village at Ganderbal, near Srinagar, Kashmir, in cooperation with SOS-Kinderdorf International
Mr. Siddhartha KAUL (Deputy Secretary General, SOS-Kinderdorf International) said that over the past three years, SOS-Kinderdorf International had enjoyed cooperation with the South Asia Foundation in a relationship of equal partnership. Three joint programmes were currently in operation.
(1) SOS-SAF Camps for young people from all the SAF countries: the first two Camps, in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh had been successful, but unfortunately, visa problems at the most recent Camp in India had prevented some young people from attending; the next Camp was to be held in Nepal.
(2) The organization had received 750 Madanjeet Singh Scholarships, of which it had only been possible to use 508. In the current year, there were more than 750 applicants, all from families below the poverty line. The recipients were selected by SOS-Kinderdorf International, and received training, with the help of partner organizations, in vocational programmes which awarded recognized diplomas and practically guaranteed employment.
(3) Three Children’s Villages had been established in various parts of Jammu and Kashmir. The most recent initiative was for a fourth Children’s Village on outskirts of Srinagar, where the State Government had given the organization land. SOS-Kinderdorf International highly appreciated the financial contributions promised by the South Asia Foundation, which would make it possible to establish that Children’s Village in order to help more than 50 orphans and 200 widows. It was hoped to have cooperation links between the four Children’s Villages, despite practical problems with visas and freedom of movement. Finally, he thanked Ambassador Madanjeet Singh and Mr Jeet Singh for their understanding and friendship, and for their generous help to the most needy and marginalized children. He requested the South Asia Foundation kindly to continue those urgently needed programmes and help to expand them.
SOS Children’s Village near Muzaffarabad, Kashmir
Ms. Souriya ANWAR (President, SOS Children’s Villages of Pakistan, Lahore) thanked the South Asia Foundation for all it was doing for the children on both sides of the Line of Control, teaching them tolerance, non-violence and friendship. She said that the South Asia Foundation was becoming increasingly involved in the the programmes of SOS Children’s Villages of Pakistan, and had made a very generous donation, which would be used for education in a village near Muzaffarabad, following the devastating earthquake there. The village in question was partially damaged. The surviving buildings would serve as youth centre. It was hoped eventually to have Children’s Villages in Muzaffarabad, Rawalkot and Mirpur, where the needs were colossal, and growing. In the meantime, three emergency shelters had been opened in Pakistan in Rawalpindi, Sialkot and Lahore to help the children until they could be moved back to Kashmir. It would be wonderful if the victims from both sides could be taught that they were all brothers and sisters and could look forward to a much brighter future.
Cultural Centre, Colombo, Sri Lanka
The Hon. Mr. SAMARAWEERA (Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka; Chairperson of the SAF Sri Lanka Chapter) said that a question had arisen regarding the land on which the proposed cultural centre was to be built. He therefore hoped to come back to the South Asia Foundation on that matter at a later date.
SAARC Forestry Centre, Thimphu, Bhutan
The Hon. Mr. NGEDUP (Prime Minister of Bhutan; Chairperson of the SAF Bhutan Chapter) said that the establishment of the SAARC Forestry Centre in Bhutan had been decided by the SAARC Ministerial Meeting on Environment held in Thimphu, Bhutan, in June 2004, and approved by the SAARC Council of Ministers at its 25th session in Islamabad, Pakistan, in July 2004. The 13th SAARC Summit recently held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, had emphasized the need for the SAARC Forestry Centre to have a coordinating role for exchange of information, expertise, training, and formulation of regional projects in the field of forestry. Bhutan had been selected because it had a good track record in the field of the environment, and around 72% of the country was forested: its natural parks, biological corridors and rich flora and fauna made it one of the ten biodiversity hotspots in the world.
The SAARC Forestry Centre, which would have training, education and research components, would naturally comply with the SAF requirement that its centres of excellence be concerned with all the SAARC countries. The necessary land had been identified, but the infrastructure had to be built from scratch. A detailed written proposal would be submitted to the South Asia Foundation. The Bhutanese authorities had a formal mandate from SAARC to establish the Forestry Centre, and thus needed to know soon whether the South Asia Foundation was willing to provide the necessary financial resources; if that were not possible, they would need to look elsewhere for funding, with the help of the SAARC Secretary-General. The initial costs were estimated to be in the region of $1.5 million.
Ambassador Madanjeet SINGH (Founder of the South Asia Foundation) thanked all the speakers sincerely for their involvement in the SAF objective of bringing the South Asian countries together, as had happened in Europe with the European Union. In 2002, it had been proposed that Afghanistan, with its long-standing cultural and economic ties to the region, should be part of the South Asia Foundation, and that had sowed the seed ultimately leading to Afghanistan’s recent accession to SAARC.
When the Taliban had destroyed the Buddhist monuments in Bamiyan, he had written to the Director-General of UNESCO, offering a personal donation of $1 million. UNESCO had convened an international meeting of experts for the preservation of the Afghan heritage. Dr Raheen had invited the South Asia Foundation to visit Afghanistan, to visit Bamiyan and hold talks on the Afghan heritage. It was at that point that the idea had arisen to set up an institution for training in heritage preservation and restoration. Accordingly, an agreement had been signed between the Afghan Government, UNESCO and the South Asia Foundation to establish the Madanjeet Singh Institute for Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage in Kabul, in which ICCROM, ICOMOS and the NRLCIndian Conservation Institute (ICI), Lucknow, India, would also be involved. It was now proposed to send a UNESCO expert and the recently retired Director of the Lucknow Insitute to Kabul to draw up a report presenting a complete plan for the operation of the Institute, and making proposals regarding future funding once the initial donation of $1 million had been spent.
The Institute for Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage project had given rise to the idea of establishing similar centres of excellence in each of the SAF countries, also in cooperation with UNESCO. The Director-General had thus suggested that the present meeting of the SAF Governing Council might be held in Paris, following the meeting of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors, in order to facilitate contacts with UNESCO, and that an evening of South Asian oral and intangible heritage and performing arts might be held in conjunction with the two meetings.
In that connection, he recalled that in 1946, Julian Huxley had launched the 10-volume History of Mankind project; however, in the 1960s and 1970s many people had come to feel that the approach had been too Western-oriented and focused on written history. That had led to greater emphasis on oral history and traditions, and cultural and linguistic diversity. His own biographical work, The Sasia Story, had been published in 35 different languages of South Asia – a record. He was proud to belong to a country like India, where the President was a Muslim, the Prime Minister a Sikh, the majority of the population was Hindu, and the leader of the largest political party a Christian; such tolerance and unity in diversity was a model for all South Asia.
A basic principle of SAF funding for centres of excellence was that the funds should benefit students from all eight SAF countries. Therefore, the granting of funding to national institutions such as the Institute for Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage was conditional on opening up national institutions to students from the other SAF countries. That was why the Governing Council was called upon to decide whether it should be called the SAF Madanjeet Singh Institute for Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage, because its training activities would not be limited to students from Afghanistan, but extend to people from all South Asia. In the case of institutions like the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai, which had a pan-Asian rather than a strictly South Asian orientation, it was proposed that one section of the College would host scholars from all eight SAF countries. A further principle governing the granting of SAF funding was the requirement that matching contributions be secured by the relevant SAF Chapters, either in kind or in cash; that was standard practice among all charitable foundations.
While he tended to agree perhaps too easily with his interlocutors, his son Jeet, who would be taking control as administrator of the South Asia Foundation, was a no-nonsense businessman whose affairs had prospered spectacularly thanks to his business acumen and stringent management practices. A basic principle of the Foundation was that each SAF Chapter was autonomous, the Chapter Chairpersons having freedom of action within their own countries, within the framework of the joint decisions taken at the annual meetings. The SAF accounts in each country were independent.
Once the decisions concerning the allocation of SAF funding had been taken, the South Asia Foundation must not come to depend on other institutions for funding.
The 10,000 SAF scholarships were worth $3 million per year, an unparalleled amount to be awarded by a single organization.
The Chairpersons of the SAF Chapters would hold a meeting the following morning to consider the various requests and proposals for funding, and the priorities to be adopted. At the present day’s afternoon meeting, various other issues would be discussed, such as the joint courses at the Open Universities, and the MOUs signed with the Scout Friendship Camps and with SOS-Kinderdorf International. A further issue concerned the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence, which had already been awarded to a number of eminent persons, and the proposal that the Prize should henceforth be funded in perpetuity by the South Asia Foundation.
A final point concerned the economic future of the entire South Asian region. Since the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) had come into effect on 1st January 2006, consideration needed to be given to the idea of a common South Asian currency, similar to what had been achieved in Europe. Such an initiative would naturally be the responsibility of an intergovernmental body such as SAARC. As a SAARC NGO, the South Asia Foundation could make a proposal for discussion at the next SAARC Summit (he knew that the Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, was already thinking along such lines). He was certain that smaller countries, such as Bhutan, Maldives, etc. would be especially keen to join a South Asian common currency. He was confident that just as the South Asia Foundation had been instrumental in bringing Afghanistan into SAARC, it would also play a key role in launching the idea of a common South Asian currency.
The meeting rose at 1.05 p.m.
The focus of the world was moving away from nation-building and ideology towards heightened concern with individuals, empowerment, poverty alleviation, and enhancement of basic infrastructure, education, art, and culture. Philanthropy, too, was increasingly motivated by idealism and a desire for direct involvement, drawing not only on the money, but also on the skills of those committed to it.
In a mere five years of idealistic vision and active construction, the South Asia Foundation had acquired considerable political kudos, cultivated major partners such as UNESCO, and exerted a major impact in the eight countries concerned, despite the formidable political hurdles. It now needed to ask itself how it could build on those initial achievements in order to attract, assess and select more better-quality proposals, and also elicit support and expertise from partner organizations. His own hands-on approach was focused on careful analysis and rectification of problem areas rather than self-congratulation.
The SAF agenda was clear; what the Foundation needed was to become a model organization in the pursuit of that agenda. Professionalization and quality enhancement should thus be the focus of the next five to ten years. The organization needed to have clearer input from its various Chapters regarding local priorities, and to be able to identify rapidly and effectively the necessary expertise and partners to respond to those priorities. Those goals would not be difficult to achieve. The issue of best practices was important: the Foundation needed to know how to tap into the most effective expertise in its spheres of interest. It should be able to secure cooperation in kind in exchange for financial support. When deciding among competing proposals, the level of matching funds should not be the only criterion; quality and the degree of local commitment were also of the essence.
Finally, the South Asia Foundation needed to improve its methods of operation. Greater use should therefore be made of the intellectual input of its eminent Governing Council; he proposed to build an organization which could provide the necessary practical backstopping. Given its constituency, the Foundation was bound to act in some ways as a political organization; however, he could not play the same diplomatic role as his father. What his father had built in the past five years constituted an extraordinary achievement, which held out the promise of even greater successes. He vowed to do his very best to continue the work and help the dream to become reality over the coming 20 years.
The Chairperson said that he was most encouraged by the Jeet’s statement, which pointed the way forward. As Mahatma Gandhi had said, there was no diplomacy save that of the truth. Mr. Jeet Singh’s frank, business-like approach was music to the ears of the Governing Council!.
Status of SAF Madanjeet Singh Scholarships
Dr. THAPA (Senior Adviser to the Nepal Ministry of Health; Chairperson of the SAF Nepal Chapter), making a PowerPoint presentation, said that Nepal had been allocated some 100 SAF Madanjeet Singh Scholarships of $300 each for distance learning; but in the absence of good distance learning facilities, they had been converted to 50 two-year scholarships to enable qualified women with high school certificates from six of the poorest districts, selected in cooperation with the Nepal Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF), to train as assistant midwives and skilled birth attendants. As many as 80% of the women were from either the dalit or janjati groups, and most were married, which tended to ensure that they would stay in the village after training. Local women preferred giving birth at home, but maternal death rates remained high. It had been established that investing in health reduced poverty. SAF partners in the project included the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT), which had done the main work, and PAF, which had provided logistical support.
Achievements of the project included a spirit of inclusiveness, job creation for the poorest youth, the development of a win-win partnership, access to skilled birth attendants for the poorest, and the provision of a role model for young girls. In order to ensure a greater, more sustainable impact, she appealed to the South Asia Foundation to increase the number and value of scholarships for Nepal, and to release the next batch of scholarships worth $30,000 to enable the students to complete their second year of training. She concluded by expressing the recipients’ and her own gratitude to the South Asia Foundation and Ambassador Madanjeet Singh for their help with the teaching of essential life-saving skills.
Prof. COOMARASWAMI (Vice-Chancellor of the Open University of Sri Lanka, Colombo) said that the 10,000 SAF Madanjeet Singh Scholarships had been used very intensively by postgraduate and vocational students in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The Maldives, Pakistan and Bangladesh had not yet begun to use the scholarships, but she hoped that the remaining hurdles could soon be overcome. She conveyed her sincere appreciation to Ambassador Madanjeet Singh and the South Asia Foundation for that vital programme.
Prof. Surabhi BANERJEE (Vice-Chancellor of Netaji Subhas Open University, Kolkata, India) said that Ambassador Madanjeet Singh had redefined the concept of philanthropy by making it responsive to needs and priorities, and above all, participatory. All the Open Universities in South Asia were indebted to him for the SAF Madanjeet Singh Scholarships for vocational and postgraduate students of the Open Universities, which were one of the most effective institutions for reaching the unreached and including the excluded. Ambassador Madanjeet Singh had personally distributed the scholarships in Kolkata, where his presence had generated unprecedented enthusiasm and gratitude.
Netaji Subhas Open University in Kolkata had decided that the scholarships should be awarded solely to truly needy, meritorious students, with the consequence that the total number of individual scholarships might not be used. In 2004 - 2005, the $100 scholarships had been awarded to 54 candidates out of 500 applicants. In 2005 - 2006, the total number of recipients had been 300, including several “renewal cases”, out of more than 800 applicants.
With regard to vocational development programmes, a “green”, eco-friendly campus had been built in Kalyani, 55 km from Kolkata, where a number of biodiversity initiatives were being developed, along with a bio-village and pioneering, innovative vocational courses.
She concluded by expressing her deep gratitude to Ambassador Madanjeet Singh for the Scholarships programme, and recalled his dream of a united, peaceful, tolerant and harmonious South Asia described in his book, The Sasia Story. She had been particularly struck by the account of the time when, in riot-torn Lahore, his life had been saved by a Muslim tangawallah, an incident which had subsequently prompted him throughout his life to help others as a way of repaying that debt.
The Scholarships appeared to have been most beneficial in the case of least-privileged vocational students and also at the higher end of the educational spectrum; perhaps less so in mid-range. Prof. Banerjee said that it was important to get the criteria for awarding the Scholarships right rather than to spend the money simply because it had been allocated. Indeed that principle applied to all the programmes, including the $1 million centres of excellence.
Prof. CHOUDHURY (Vice-Chancellor of BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh) said that in Bangladesh, it had not been possible to disburse any of the 1000 scholarships because the Bangladesh Open University had not been able to deliver on time the courses on Environment which it was supposed to develop and deliver as part of the Post-graduate Diploma in Environment and Sustainable Development (PGD-ESD) under SAFLI initiative. It had therefore been decided to reallocate those scholarships to vocational training, for which three competent organizations had been identified. Another proposal had been to raise the amount awarded from $100 to $200, if necessary by reducing the number of individual scholarships.
Prof. COOMARASWAMI (Vice-Chancellor of the Open University of Sri Lanka, Colombo) said that the amount had originally been $300 per year, but according to the 2005 agreement, that had been changed to $100 for distance learning, but remained at $300 for vocational programmes. If the $300 amount were to be reduced, it should be to no less than $200. A clear decision on that issue was needed.
The amounts awarded should be made effective: the real question was “is it an appropriate amount?” The total commitment should remain the same, to be managed as appropriate to the circumstances.
Prof. COOMARASWAMI (Vice-Chancellor of the Open University of Sri Lanka, Colombo) said that a standard agreement had been sent to all SAF Chapters. She endorsed the suggestion of maintaining the agreed ceiling for the total commitment, while being free to decrease or increase the number of individual scholarships according to needs.
Mr. KAUL (Deputy Secretary General, SOS-Kinderdorf International) said that his organization had worked on a basis of $300, which was a minimum for orphans deprived of all family support. He would not recommend any decrease in the individual scholarship amount for such children. The case of distance education students who had family support was different.
Dr. THAPA (Senior Adviser to the Nepal Ministry of Health; Chairperson of the SAF Nepal Chapter) agreed that the individual amount for vocational scholarships should be needs-based, and allowed to vary within the total envelope. In Nepal, they had thus converted 100 $300 scholarships to 50 $600 scholarships.
Prof. COOMARASWAMI (Vice-Chancellor of the Open University of Sri Lanka, Colombo) said that out of the total number of 10,000 scholarships, each country had a certain number. They should be allowed to vary the amount and number of individual scholarships within the total amount allocated to their country.
Mr. Prasada RAO (SAF-India) said that some Vice-Chancellors had argued in favour of reducing the amount of individual scholarships in order to increase their number. In India in the previous year, 10,000 scholarships had been awarded instead of the planned 6,000, with a corresponding drop in the value of individual scholarships. However, universities had only been able to use 5,000, so the number had been scaled back in the current year to 6,000. Quality and merit were also important factors in awarding the scholarships. Finally, he noted that he SAF scholarships software placed the students in 16 distinct categories, which meant that the universities had little say in the allocation process.
The Chairperson said that the consensus appeared to be on quality rather than quantity. Clearly there was a need to revisit the rules governing the awarding of scholarships, allowing country-specific variations, and ensuring that the scholarships were closely geared to local needs.
There were two separate issues: first, the way in which funds were allocated, in other words, making the most effective use of the money available according to actual needs and priorities, and hence possibly varying the value and number of individual scholarships. Secondly, there was the question of awarding scholarships at all: perhaps other forms of assistance might be better, such as centres of excellence or other projects yet to be proposed. A proper vetting process was needed, and a greater number of proposals from which to choose. In the meantime, he suggested maintaining the current overall envelope for the scholarships, and keeping the whole subject under review.
Post-graduate diploma in environment and sustainable development (PGD-ESD) by the South Asian Open Universities
Prof. COOMARASWAMI (Vice-Chancellor of the Open University of Sri Lanka, Colombo) said that in 2002, Ambassador Madanjeet Singh had invited the Vice-Chancellors of the Open Universities to form an academic council within the South Asia Foundation to propose a programme in environment, human rights, gender empowerment, and other topics. The result had been the postgraduate diploma in environment and sustainable development (PDG-ESD) programme, which had been launched through the Open Universities in view of their impressive outreach through distance learning, and which had an open entry policy ensuring no discrimination with regard to age or social background. India and Pakistan were already offering the programme, the course materials having been developed in record time, and Sri Lanka was due to offer the programme in 2007.
SAF Group Scholarships Programme at the School of Visual Arts, Beaconhouse National University (BNU), Lahore, Pakistan, and the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), Chennai, India
Prof. HASHMI (Dean of the School of Visual Arts, BNU, Lahore, Pakistan; Chairperson of the SAF Pakistan Chapter) said that although there had been some relaxation, there were still difficulties with visas between India and Pakistan, causing delays in attendance. She endorsed Mr Jeet Singh’s comments regarding the loose infrastructure of the SAF Chapters, which prevented Chairpersons from devoting sufficient attention to monitoring and assessing local projects. There was a need to ensure that funds disbursed were being put to good use; consistency and fairness were key desiderata in that regard. In the case of the School of Visual Arts, the political obstacles to admitting students from other South Asian countries had been overcome, and their top-quality presence had given the School a welcome sense of pluralism and diversity. Various practical matters, such as travel arrangements, etc, needed to be streamlined so as to ensure efficient delivery of the scholarships scheme. She would welcome an expansion of the programme, possibly in partnership with other organizations, provided the infrastructure was sufficiently streamlined and effective to ensure good candidates. It should be the responsibility of each SAF Chapter to improve its own functioning.
Mr. RAM (Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, Chennai, India; SAF Advisor) said that at the Asian College of Journalism, the experience had been mixed: the scholarships selection process was uneven across the various countries. Indian recipients were selected by open competition from a large field of candidates, whereas scholars from other countries were often nominated by their Chapters. While those students were often excellent, there was occasionally a problem of attitude which was possibly rooted in the mode of selection: some recipients appeared to assume that they were doing the South Asia Foundation a favour. It was important to ensure that information about the Scholarships programme was well disseminated in order to ensure a maximum number of good candidates, and recipients of the scholarships needed to adopt more realistic attitudes about their role and the purpose of the programme.
The Chairperson agreed that great care should be taken in the selection process, and that recipients of the scholarships should adopt a proper attitude.
Revised memorandum of understanding for the continuation of SAF-SOS Environment Camps
Mr. KAUL (Deputy Secretary General, SOS-Kinderdorf International) said that his organization requested continuation of the SAF-SOS Environment Camps, which provided the young participants with an excellent experience. Organic farming had been the main theme of two out of the three Camps that had been held.
The Chairperson said that he saw no objection to the continuation of the SAF-SOS Enviroment Camps.
SOS Children’s Village at Ganderbal, near Srinagar, Kashmir, in cooperation with SOS-Kinderdorf International (continued)
Mr. KAUL (Deputy Secretary General, SOS-Kinderdorf International) said that it had been understood that both the South Asia Foundation and SOS-Kinderdorf International were to contribute to the project in question, which was not merely a small Children’s Village; it would cost considerably more than $1 million, and would require an annual minimum of $180,000 to maintain over the next 15-20 years. SOS-Kinderdorf International was prepared to construct the buildings, and hoped that the South Asia Foundation would make a programme commitment spanning several years.
Mr. KAUL (Deputy Secretary General, SOS-Kinderdorf International) said that SOS-Kinderdorf International would be happy to make a new proposal on the basis of an equal partnership with the South Asia Foundation. The four Children’s Villages needed to be linked together through various outreach programmes covering the whole of Kashmir, despite practical problems with movement across the Line of Control. SOS-Kinderdorf International had already begun the long-term Ganderbal Village project on the understanding that there would be a partnership with the South Asia Foundation.
Mr. KAUL (Deputy Secretary General, SOS-Kinderdorf International) said that the programme was extensive, and would require a substantial outlay. SOS-Kinderdorf International could review the whole proposal together with the South Asia Foundation, which could indicate which aspects tied in with its own priorities and readiness to fund.
The Chairperson suggested that the South Asia Foundation and SOS-Kinderdorf International might wish to discuss the matter further and negotiate the details between themselves.
Mr. KAUL (Deputy Secretary General, SOS-Kinderdorf International) said that he regretted the somewhat vague wording of the Chairperson’s suggestion. SOS-Kinderdorf International had entered into an agreement with the South Asia Foundation, which had undertaken to meet the cost of the physical infrastructure. SOS-Kinderdorf International was already spending money on the project, and had assumed financial responsibility for 70 orphans, who were currently housed in rented accommodation. He had no problem with the South Asia Foundation wishing to reorient its commitment to programme aspects of the project (in such case, SOS-Kinderdorf International could adjust its own commitment accordingly) as long as the agreed partnership was not called into question.
Revised memorandum of understanding for the continuation of SAF-Scout Friendship Camps
Mr. Nishchal PANDEY (SAF-Nepal) said that the SAF-Scout Friendship Camps, on which he had reported for several years to Ambassador Madanjeet Singh, were an excellent programme which was in tune with the overall spirit of the South Asia Foundation. Naturally, as Mr. Jeet Singh had urged earlier, all SAF programmes should be efficient, consistent, and exemplary. A memorandum of understanding had been signed with the Asia-Pacific Regional Office (Makati City, Manila, Philippines) of the World Scout Bureau, which required clarification regarding which partner should be responsible for which items of expenditure, such as air tickets. He further regretted that there had been no Indian delegation at the previous year’s Scout Friendship Camp in Nepal, even though the security situation in Kathmandu had been normal. There had been a request for a documentary film on the Scout Friendship Camp to be made with SAF funding, but the South Asia Foundation had declined the request. In short, the agreement governing the basically successful partnership needed to be spelled out in greater detail.
The Chairperson asked who should be responsible for revising the memorandum of understanding.
Mr. PANDEY (SAF-Nepal) said that it should be made clear what the precise role of the South Asia Foundation was to be in relation to the Scout Camps.
The Chairperson said that he understood there was a consensus for the SAF involvement in the Scout Camps to continue. He appealed for a detailed proposal to be made.
Mr. PANDEY (SAF-Nepal) said that the South Asia Foundation could, for instance, undertake to pay the travel costs of participants from other South Asian countries to the Scout Camps; it would then be for the national Scout organizations, which often had government funding, to bear the remaining costs – that would be a true partnership.
Mr. PANDEY (SAF-Nepal) said that the South Asia Foundation was currently helping to fund the holding of South Asian board meetings of the Scout Movement, and queried whether that was an appropriate use of SAF funds.
Ms. Swinitha PERERA (SAF-Sri Lanka) said that the same had happened with Scout Movement board meetings in Sri Lanka, where the South Asia Foundation had been asked to cover their expenses.
Funding of the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence
The Chairpersons of the Chapters should approve the level of funding of $50,000 to defray the administrative expenses relating to the Prize, in accordance with the new arrangements outlined in the letter from the Director-General to Ambassador Madanjeet Singh subject to a proviso that UNESCO provide details on how those additional funds were used.
Prof. HASHMI (Dean of the School of Visual Arts, BNU, Lahore, Pakistan; Chairperson of the SAF Pakistan Chapter) asked how the South Asia Foundation was to be involved in the Prize. Would the Chapters, she wondered, be expected to propose candidates?
The Prize is entirely administered by UNESCO. The Prize was henceforth to be funded through the South Asia Foundation.
Formulation of a standard policy for helping victims of natural disasters
It was agreed that it would not be appropriate for the South Asia Foundation to make ad hoc contributions in emergency situations. If, however, a reconstruction project, for instance, became a SAF programme, it should be possible to make a normal SAF programme request, which could be duly approved, if necessary by distance consultation. At present, there was no standard calendar for budgetary decision-making, a situation he hoped would soon be rectified. All SAF funding requests should be subject to a standard mechanism.
Mr. KAUL (Deputy Secretary-General, SOS-Kinderdorf International) said that emergency relief requests often required an extremely rapid response. The Chairpersons might therefore authorize the President to release a small amount of funds immediately in such situations in order to develop whatever programme was needed as quickly as possible.
The Chairperson said that there should no problem with taking emergency decisions by distance consultation.
Ms. ANWAR (President, SOS Children’s Villages of Pakistan, Lahore), endorsing the remarks of Mr Kaul, said that many organizations had usefully set aside emergency funds for use in such situations.
The Chairperson suggested that the hitherto ad hoc approach needed to be replaced with something more structured. It was important to give the Foundation a role to play in emergency situations.
The Chairperson said that much could be done, in seeking to respond rapidly to emergencies, by distance consultation and tele-conferencing.
Closure of the meeting
Dr. THAPA (Senior Adviser to the Nepal Ministry of Health; Chairperson of the SAF Nepal Chapter) presented a gift of Nepalese music sung by a Buddhist nun, two albums entitled Bliss and Smile, to Mr. Jeet Singh.
The meeting rose at 5.10 p.m.
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
Chairpersons of the eight South Asia Foundation (SAF) Chapters
Afghanistan: The Hon. Dr. Sayed M. RAHEEN, Minister, Information, Culture and Tourism, Kabul
Bangladesh: Dr. Kamal HOSSAIN, Advocate of the Supreme Court, Dhaka
Bhutan: The Hon. Lyonpo Sangay NGEDUP, Prime Minister of Bhutan, Thimphu
India: The Hon. Mani Shankar AIYAR, Minister of Panchayati Raj, New Delhi (unable to attend)
Maldives: The Hon. Ahmed SHAHEED, Foreign Minister, Male
Nepal: Dr. Rita THAPA, Senior Adviser to the Nepal Ministry of Health, Kathmandu
Pakistan: Prof. Salima HASHMI, Dean of the School of Visual Arts, BNU, Lahore
Sri Lanka: The Hon. Mangala SAMARAWEERA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Colombo
Vice Chancellors of South Asian Universities
Prof. Surabhi Banerjee, Netaji Subhas Open University, Kolkata, India
Prof. Jamilur Reza Choudhury, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Prof. Sartaj Aziz, Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, Pakistan
Prof. Khalid Aftab, Government College University, Lahore, Pakistan
Prof. Uma Coomaraswamy, Open University of Sri Lanka, Colombo
Specially invited guests.
Dr. and Ms. Karan Singh, Chairperson, Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), New Delhi
Mr. Pavan Kumar Verma, Director-General, Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), New Delhi
Ms. Souriya Anwar, President, SOS Children’s Villages of Pakistan, Lahore
Mr. Zaheer Alam Kidvai, CEO, Beyond Information Technology Solutions (BITS), Karachi; Secretary SAF-Pakistan
Mr. Siddhartha Kaul, Deputy Secretary General, SOS-Kinderdorf International
Mr. and Ms. N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, Chennai, India; SAF Advisor
Dr. Hameeda Hossain, Bangladesh
Mr. Coomaraswamy, Sri Lanka
Ambassador Madanjeet Singh, Founder of the South Asia Foundation; UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador
Mr. Jeet Singh, SAF Advisor
Ms. France Marquet, SAF Advisor
Secretaries, Advisory Boards of SAF Chapters
Mr. Hakikur Rahman, SAF-Bangladesh
Mr. Jambay Wangchuk, SAF-Bhutan
Mr. Prasada Rao, SAF-India
Ms. Aishath Shehenaz Adam, SAF-Maldives
Mr. Nishchal Pandey, SAF-Nepal
Ms. Swinitha Perera, SAF-Sri Lanka
Ambassadors, Permanent Delegates
H.E. Mr. Mahammad Zahir Aziz, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Afghanistan to UNESCO
H.E. Mr. Sonam T. Rabgye, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Bhutan to the United Nations
H.E. Mr. T.C.A. Rangachari, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India to France
H.E. Ms. Bhaswati Mukherjee, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of India to UNESCO
H.E. Mr. Aneesuddin Ahmed, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Pakistan to France
H.E. Ms Chitrangance Wagiswara, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Sri Lanka to France
Dr. Jayantha Chanapala, Senior Adviser to H.E. the President of Sri Lanka
Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO
Mr. James M. Kulikkowski, Deputy Assistant Director-General, Sector for External Relations and Cooperation
Mr. Vladimir Kouchnirenko, Liaison Officer, Asia and Pacific Section, Sector for External Relations and Cooperation
Ms. Amita Vohra, Executive Officer, Office of the Director-General
ACJ: Asian College of Journalism
B.F.A.: Bachelor of Fine Arts degree
BNU: Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, Pakistan
CTEVT: Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training, Nepal
ICCR: Indian Council of Cultural Relations
ICCROM: International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property
ICI: Indian Conservation Institute, Lucknow, India
ICOMOS: International Council on Monuments and Sites
INTACH: Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, New Delhi, India
LL.B.: Bachelor of Law degree
M.A.: Master of Arts degree
MoU: Memorandum of Understanding
NESPAK: National Engineering Services Pakistan
NGO: Non-Governmental Organization
NRLC: National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property, India
PAF: Poverty Alleviation Fund, Nepal
PGD-ESD: postgraduate diploma in environment and sustainable development
SAARC: South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
SACAC: South Asia Centre for Art and Culture, Mohammed Ali Jinnah House, Mumbai, India
SAF: South Asia Foundation
SAFTA: South Asian Free Trade Agreement
SIALS: South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies, Dhaka, Bangladesh
SOS-KDI: SOS-Kinderdorf International
UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
WTO: World Trade Organization