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Asian Relations Conference-3 Organised By ICWA And AAS On March 9,10-2012 At Sapru House, New Delhi On “Transforming South Asia: Imperatives For Action

ASIAN RELATIONS CONFERENCE III

On

“Transforming South Asia: Imperatives for Action”

at

Sapru House, New Delhi, India.

9-10 March, 2012

Organised by: Indian Council of World Affairs and Association of Asia Scholars

Introduction
The Third Asian Relations Conference “Transforming South Asia: Imperatives for Action”  was held on 9th and 10th March, 2012 with an impressive list of participants from India and its neighboring countries and had an exhaustive agenda. This Conference was a joint effort of Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and Association of Asia Scholars (AAS).

Day-1

Inaugural: Session I

At the outset, the Director General of ICWA, Shri Sudhir T. Devare extended a warm welcome to all the distinguished guests from India and neighbouring countries. Terming South Asia as one of the most significant areas of the world he lamented the fact that disputes divide the region. While quoting the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the recent SAARC conference at Maldives, he explained that regional integration was a challenging task yet the trend was growing and called for regional initiatives.

The Keynote address was given by Mr. Shivshankar Menon, the National Security Advisor of India. Explicating the ‘South Asian paradox’, he said that the inhabitants under estimated themselves and the region lacked connectivity. He mentioned that though there were irreconcilable political problems, the ‘empirical performance’ of the region was good. Highlighting the thriving trade in the region, particularly India-Bangladesh and India-Pakistan he announced that the transformation process had already begun. He believed that SAARC had achieved a lot in the twenty six years of its existence. He emphasized that political and security issues should not be allowed to halt the progress in other aspects.

Then, Prof. Swaran Singh delivered a vote of thanks to all the panellists, participants and distinguished scholars.

Session II: South Asia: Commonalities and Convergences

The second session Chaired by Mr. I.P. Khosla, former Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Bangladesh and other countries, emphasized the relevance of a joint venture of the SAARC countries. The speakers shared their views on what should be done in order to enhance cooperation between the South Asian states.

H.E. Mr. Khalid Pashtoon, Deputy Speaker of the Lower House of Afghanistan (Wolesi Jirgah) was the first speaker of the session and he gave a very comprehensive presentation on the strategic importance of Afghanistan, how it has played a role in the development of the region, and what should be done to improve upon the conditions of Afghanistan so that it could contribute more fruitfully in the South Asian cooperation. To begin with, he said that Afghanistan is “a proud member of the South Asian family” and that it has tremendous potential for facilitating closer regional integration. More generally, he said that the South Asian region has amazing potentiality to produce economic benefits for the region. He said that Afghanistan’s strategic location at the crossroads of South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, and Far East entailed an important role to play in pushing South Asian cooperation. Afghanistan, he said, intends to strengthen its role by taking important steps in developing infrastructure such as highways, roads, airports, and so on, and he also said that Afghanistan is eager to learn from the other South Asian countries. He also said that there was need to work on transit and transport network systems since Afghanistan is a landlocked country. Pashtoon concluded by saying that for improving the position of Afghanistan, he looks up to the leadership of ICWA and AAS.

This was followed by the presentation of Honourable Mr. Asaduzzaman Noor, who is a Member of Parliament in Bangladesh representing the Awami League and is the Cultural Affairs Secretary. He began by pointing to the paradoxes of the region— on the one hand, there is hostility between the states due to the historical baggage, on the other hand, it is this history that binds the people. He criticised the oft-cited analogy drawn between SAARC and European Union, according to which it is argued that SAARC has failed as a regional organisation because it has not been able to achieve much since its inception. He argued against this view and pointed out that the background of South Asia is different from that of other regions. There is a mistrust embedded in the psyche of the people, hence making cooperation difficult. Against such a background, the very emergence of SAARC is a real achievement. He conceded that SAARC has not achieved as much as expected, it is overstatement to suggest that it has achieved nothing. He said that besides lack of funds, political problems, particularly between India and Pakistan have been responsible for obstructing cooperation. He pointed out that media and sports are two areas of cooperation. More recently, environment, climate change and disaster management have emerged as other areas of cooperation. He also said that though there are problems between India and Bangladesh such as the Teesta river water dispute, trade between the two countries have improved over the years. What is indeed needed is an all-round development and win-win situation. Mr. Noor aptly said that South Asia needs to march forward as other regions because time and tide waits for none!

Lyonpo Dago Tshering, former Minister, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Bhutan and former Ambassador to India from Bhutan, was the next speaker and he shared his views on why the integration of the South Asian region is possible and important. Although the smallest of the South Asian countries, Bhutan has its own contributions to make in the regional peace, security and stability of the region. He laid emphasis on the possibility of economic cooperation. He said that the collective demographic strength of the region has potential for prosperity. He said that the need for people centric policies of SAARC member states is required. The growing economic growth of the region, he said, makes the need for cooperation compelling the gross national happiness of the South Asian region.

Retired Ambassador of Myanmar Foreign Service, U Nyunt Maung Shein, spoke on the similarities that Myanmar has with the South Asian region in terms of religious identities, attire, cuisine, and literature, the reforms that have taken place in Myanmar following the 2010 elections, and on India- Myanmar relations. Since 2010, two Houses have been elected in Myanmar and, Mr. Shein said that it is moving on the path of multi-party democracy. He pointed out that about 28000 prisoners have been released since 2010, media restrictions have been relaxed, government has realised the importance of civil societies, and Millennium Development Goals have also been envisaged. He requested his “South Asian friends” to share their knowledge and experience on democracy because of the expertise that they have on the matter. He also said that though India and Myanmar has border problems, developing stronger relations with Myanmar is important for the SAARC countries.

This was followed by a presentation by Dr. Shambhu Ram Simkhada, former Ambassador of Nepal. He aptly defined the goal of the seminar as a reflection on the momentous changes the world has seen and how they affect, ultimately inspiring, the South Asian region to come together. He conceded that perceptions and perspectives would be different. But there is a convergence of opinion that South Asia stands on a new threshold of tremendous positive transformation. Nepal, he said, is a close witness of this. He raised the very crucial question of how the transformation of the opportunities in dealing with the challenges could be achieved. Recognising both the opportunities as well as the challenges, convergence in realm of ideas, and vision of collective security and peaceful global order are some of the suggestions that Dr. Simkhada provided. He concluded by saying that self-reflection and self-introspection is required for achieving this.

The final speaker for the session was Dr. Sartaj Aziz, Vice Chancellor of Beacon House in Pakistan and his paper was on “A New Vision for South Asia”. He began by saying that economic and political implications of the regional cooperation could be far reaching since if the South Asian region join hands then it would become the second largest economy, ahead of US. He said that the only way to counter declining trade is by integrating trade. The percentage of global trade, he argued, has to be increased. Problems such as shortage of water resource, food security and poverty continue to remain the key concerns of the region. He suggested that less energy intensive technologies should be used. He pointed out that South Asia is the “melting pot” for many problems. These include terrorism, historic baggage of mistrust, increase in interpersonal inequalities and so on. There needs to be a re-shifting of the focus from global to regional agendas. Also, Mr. Aziz said that creation of positive images is also important. He gave importance to the steps that Pakistan has taken to include India among the most favoured nations. He also said that the importance of civil societies in the SAARC countries must be realised. He concluded by saying that if “we” do not focus on these issues, “the future generations will not forgive us”.

Session III: Socio-Economic Issues and Perspectives

Before the third session commenced, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed betweenIndian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), India and Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRS), Sri Lanka.

The third session of the day was chaired by Dr. Muinul Islam, Professor, Department of Economics, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Dr. A. Ghafoor Liwal, Director, Regional Study Centre, Afghanistan was the first speaker of this session. Pointing to the geopolitical, geo-strategic location and economic importance of Afghanistan, he articulated that ‘stability in Afghanistan means stability in South Asia.’ He argued that South Asia appears to be confused today as never before due to the involvement and physical presence of major powers. A major hurdle in front of SAARC is political relations among the member countries of this organization. To facilitate South Asian cooperation, he suggested that the national interests of regional countries and regional interests needs to be harmonised.

The second speaker was Mr. Lyonpo Dago Tshering, Former Minister, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs and Former Ambassador to India, Bhutan. He emphasized the need for regional and sub-regional grouping cooperation for addressing the challenges faced by climate change. He argued that the increasing energy requirements of the South Asian region and the lack of availability of energy resources in the region on the other hand, have increased energy dependence outside the region. Thereby, there is a need to plan integrated energy with infrastructure on a sub-regional basis.

This was followed by a lecture by Mr. Jahangir Bin Alam, Secretary- General, India Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bangladesh. He talked about the tremendous potential for cooperation between the sub-regional grouping – Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and China(BIMC). While India and China has huge economic resources to contribute, Bangladesh and Myanmar have significant natural resources for fuelling growth and cooperation in the region. He said that inadequate and poor infrastructure in South Asia acts as an impediment in the economic growth and development of this region. The major objective, according to him, is to promote cooperation on the basis of their ‘comparative advantage.’

The final speaker of this session was Prof. Girijesh Pant, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. His main argument was that energy compulsions are creating possibilities for renewed cooperation. Energy consumption in this region far exceeds its energy production capacities, making states highly vulnerable and energy dependent. The global energy parameters are undergoing transformation and these shifts, he argued, need to be looked at from geo-economic rather than geo-political angle. Economic cooperation has the potential of driving political relations among South Asian countries.

This was followed by some interesting questions related to the prospect of energy trading in South Asia, potential and prospects of sub-regional groupings and so on.

After this session, a short film “View from Sapru House”, a CFTV presentation and directed by Subhas Borker was shown which underscored the historical role of Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) in the field of international relations and foreign affairs.

Session IV: NTS Issues and Perspectives.

The last session of the day on Non traditional security was chaired by H.E Mr Khalid Pashtoon, Deputy Speaker Lower House ( wolesi Jirgah), Afghanistan.

Mr Haroun Mir from Afghan Centre for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS), the first speaker of the session explicated various aspects of the topic with respect to Afghanistan. He said that the picture was not as bright for his country as it was for the rest of the South Asia. Throwing light on the post September 11, 2001 scenario he believed that the glass was ‘half full’, as there were certain positive developments with respect to human rights, women empowerment issues etc. He elucidated the problem that his country faced, in case U.S withdrew its troops before Taliban and the regime’s reconciliation. He regarded U.S’s selection of Pakistan as an ally in the ‘war of terror’ as a blunder. Elucidating three issues- security transition, reconciliation with Taliban and transfer of political power, he explained that they had reached a ‘deadlock’ in their negotiations with Taliban. He also said that the transition of power in 2014 after the U.S pull out should be peaceful and transparent.  He announced that the proxy war initiated by Pakistan in Afghanistan should be stopped and made an appeal to India to help his country in a transparent and peaceful transition once U.S withdrew their troops.

Then, Mr Rajan Bhattarai, the chairperson of Nepal Institute for Policy Studies explained that his country had been in a process of transition for some years. He described the volatile political situation that has risen as a consequence of Maoist and government tussle, the 2001 paramilitary creation and the 2006 surrender of power by the King. The building of a realization among the regime to progress from state centric traditional notions of security to non traditional human centric notion, was highlighted. He raised the issue of rehabilitation and integration of Maoists who were in cantonments and also the formulation of the constitution. He hoped that by the next elections the issues of non traditional security will be taken more seriously in his country and asked for India’s cooperation to aid the transition.

Mr B. Raman, an Indian security and strategic affairs analyst gave a more conceptual understanding of the topic than a descriptive one. He explained the East- West divide in the definition of non traditional security and brought out the biased, incorrect formulation of the topic by the West. Hinting at the nature of non traditional security that was constantly evolving he believed that transparency in the working and policies of the corporate sector was needed. A need for recognizing and distinguishing the nature of the threat, whether multilateral or national was felt by the speaker. He concluded by calling for an approach to the study of non traditional security that accommodated the thinking of a nation, and was not a partial understanding of the concept that was forwarded by the west to promote its own agenda.

The questions raised mainly concerned the peace process in Afghanistan and the issues related to the rehabilitation of Nepali Maoists.

Day- 2

Session V: Towards Regional Integration

Mr. A.W. Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, Executive Director of Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS), Sri Lanka chaired the session.

The first speaker, Professor Muinul Islam lucidly explained the issue of regional cooperation for connectivity in Eastern South Asia sub-region including Bangladesh, India (north eastern India) and Nepal. He examined the merit of the issue of providing transit routes to India, Nepal, and Bhutan through railway networks, roads, highways and inland waterways of Bangladesh. He talked about opening the ports of Bangladesh, particularly the Chittagong port for the benefit of the surrounding countries and expressed concern about the ongoing rampant smuggling since the liberalization of Bangladesh. He believed that the visit of Indian Prime Minister to Bangladesh on September 2011 has given a significant impetus to the issue of regional integration in South Asia. The flows of legal and illegal trade between India and Bangladesh has increased since 197 and  He concluded by lamenting the border killings of Bangladeshis by Border Security Force (BSF) of India.

The next speaker, Dr. Sheelkant Sharma, the former Secretary General of SAARC elucidated that there was a need for resolving the old political question. Regional economic integration could be one of the effective means towards this end. He said that the ‘regional and bilateral’ (affairs) could go hand in hand, and it would be unwise for the South Asian countries to give up regionalism. He pointed out that SAARC’s birth was more of a shared history rather than convergences and that political will, and strong leadership was needed to remove roadblocks and cobwebs. SAARC needed more funds and a stronger mandate to function better.  Dr. Sharma suggested undertaking of steps to bring academics and the students together. Information flows should be uninhibited by hangovers of the past. He also emphasised on the need to dispel fears and doubts among the people and move ahead to forge a South Asian identity and brand, encouraging private holders to get involved in investments and infrastructure in the process. In conclusion, he said that rhetoric should be dispensed with and members should stay the course on priorities once set.

The third speaker of the session, Dr. S. Gautam from the Council of World Affairs, Kathmandu, Nepal focussed on voluntary economic integration, which would benefit all equally. He explicated integration in terms of a common framework, common pursuit of goals and common implementation. To achieve integration he suggested; free/common market, upliftment of the downtrodden and marginalized and formulation of a society which has a strong social character. He believed that a South Asian model of development should be created and sovereignty of each state should be respected. Further he advocated a collective approach to combat the problems of global warming and increasing population and decreasing natural resources. Finally, while expressing his faith in SAARC he announced that people to people contact should be encouraged.

Ms Fathimath Amira, Director General of the Department of Higher education, Maldives mainly dealt with regional integration in the field of education. She expressed her pleasure as the number of Maldivian students coming to India for their education was increasing. She appreciated the role of India in providing scholarships to South Asian students and the annual UGC conferences.

Dr SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda, a Senior Lecturer at BCIS, Sri Lanka quoting the Economist, announced South Asia as the least integrated area of the world. He explained the concepts of national interest and brought out the difference between, ‘what we want and what we need and what we want to give up’. He asked the question that will the interests of emerging powers, China and India converge. Starting with the land issues, he then inched towards the Indian Ocean, hinting that ports and sea resources have the potential to become big issues. He described the Colombo port and its significance to South Asian countries. Elucidating the problems of connectivity he finally announced that ‘everyone had a share or stake and all interests could be merged and the Indian Ocean could be used for the benefit for all.

The questions raised concerned India’s leadership problem, China’s emergence and SAARC’s vision.

Session VI : Evolving a Blueprint for Action.

The session was chaired by Lyonpo Dago Tshering, Former Minister of Home And Cultural Affairs and former ambassador to India, Bhutan. He described this session as providing ‘wishlist’ for South Asian Cooperation.

The first speaker of this session was Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, Governor of Central Bank of Nepal (Nepal Rastra Bank) and also a former Minister Of Foreign Minister and Finance, Nepal. He stressed on the need for a more accountable polity allowing for effective governance in South Asia. To him, SAARC is a ‘notional unit’, which is least integrated as compared to other regional groupings. However, he noted that there are positive prospects in the region which has the potential for greater cooperation in the region. He concluded with the remark that the agenda exists but it needs to be backed by tangible action.

Mr. Omar. Sharifi, Director of American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, Afghanistan was the next speaker. He argued that the past decade has led to tremendous development in Afghanistan’s institutional, human and physical infrastructure. For the successful transition of Afghanistan, two things require significant focus. First, adopting a balanced political, military and development effort to tackle the current security challenges and second, creating a strategic agreement between Afghanistan and the United States and the United States and its international allies, including India. If these issues are addressed properly, we can establish a brighter, stable and prosperous future for Afghanistan and the South Asian region

The next speaker Mr. Matiur Rahman, Editor of Prothom Alo, Bangladesh talked about prospects of cooperation between South Asian countries in general and India and Bangladesh in particular. He pointed out that the tensions between member countries, particularly India and Pakistan was a major stumbling block to the proper functioning of SAARC. In recent times there has been qualitative improvement in bilateral ties among the SAARC nations. He drew our attention to the fact that initiatives like’ Aman ki Asha’ and Moitri Bandhan’ has forged people to people cooperation and these initiatives should be further taken. At the end, he suggested certain steps like flexibility of visa, free flow of information, knowledge- sharing, resolving border issues and others for facilitating greater co-operation in South Asia.

This was followed by a very short but impressive talk by Professor Partha Ghosh, Professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. He emphasised that there exists a knowledge deficit in South Asia about each other and there is a greater need to bridge this gap by providing research visas to students to conduct research across South Asia.

Dr. Huma Baqai, Karachi Council of Foreign Relations, Pakistan was the final speaker of this session. She gave an interesting presentation on the “New Trends and paradigm shifts in Pakistan and Pakistan- India relations: Pakistani Perspectives.” She contended that there has been a new and paradigmatic shift in Pakistan due to democratic transition, changing Pakistan-US relations, Situation in Afghanistan and the imperatives of economic globalisation. Like many scholars, she also noted that the Peace in South Asia is hostage to the Indo- Pak conflict, particularly over Kashmir. Further, Afghanistan is increasing seen as a competing zone between India and Pakistan, largely due to the opaqueness of US policy there. These changes in Pakistan call forth a reciprocal and support of the South Asian Nations, particularly India.

Session VII: The Way Forward

In the seventh session, “The Way Forward”, the speakers tried to give a road map which would in their opinion facilitate the integration of the South Asian region. This session was chaired by His Excellency Mr. Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, the Governor of Central Bank of Nepal (NRB), and former Foreign Minister and Finance Minister of Nepal.

The first speaker was Lyonpo Dago Tshering from Bhutan. Briefing on the issues discussed in the last two days he said that crosscutting issues have been talked about including trade, energy security, and climate change. He said that in order to make South Asia a more interdependent and comprehensive region, the need to work with efficacy is important. Implementation of the decisions on the issues that have been collectively agreed upon by the South Asian states is important, he said. He said that the suggestions of the participants should be taken into account. He urged that this work should continue for the vision statement of the future. He ended by saying that what impressed him the most were the statements that came up in favour of cooperation and integration.

This was followed by a 10 point recommendation and approach by Shri A.N.Ram, retired IFS officer. First, he said that regional cooperation needs to be sustained through connectivities of the market between the South Asian states. Second, Along with regional infrastructure cross border social infrastructure must also be improved. Third, the Indian sub-continent needs to become interdependent and interrelated and for this to happen economic integration is very important. Next, exchange of knowledge should also take place, hence making the integration both horizontal as well as vertical. Also, he emphasized on cultural integration of the region and said that each other’s culture should be looked upon amicably rather than in a xenophobic manner. Mr. Ram also said that regional cooperation should not come in the way of sub-regional cooperation. He also envisaged a single market so that the percentage of informal trade is reduced and which is at present greater than the legal trade. Eighth, direct participation of people and making the system broad based to include people’s views is also important. Ninth, he said that trade is a consequence of cooperation and therefore cooperation is important to pursue. Lastly, he said that good economics could never lead to bad politics, but bad politics could disrupt good economic relations; therefore, the regional politics should not obstruct economic relations. He concluded by saying that the mind-set must be jettisoned and focus must not shift away from regional cooperation.

The next speaker was Dr. Tika Jung Thapa from Nepal. He began by saying that the Conference has indeed addressed several pertinent issues. This has re-affirmed the confidence of the leaders of the SAARC members. He said that freeing the South Asian people from hunger, poverty and illiteracy could only be achieved by regional cooperation. “Basking in the sun of post-Cold War era, people look at the issues from new perspectives. South Asia, he pointed out, was the least integrated region of the world. Inter-regional trade is very limited and this must be improved upon by curbing protectionist measures. Therefore he said that these common issues between the South Asian countries urge that the two-tier system be replaced by a three tier system.

Mr. Liaquat Merchant, Chairperson of Karachi Council of Foreign Relations, Pakistan also expressed his views on the matter. To begin with, he said that after witnessing years of hostilities and war between India and Pakistan, he is optimistic that mistrust and despair would give way to trust and hope leading to a good future. The need of the hour is economic interdependence and for this regional integration is a compelling need. Without resolving this, there seems to be no success. He conceded that the larger states have a greater role to play. For SAARC to achieve its full success, cooperative measures should be prioritized. He emphasized the need for CBMs as well as people to people contact. He gave five policy recommendations. First, trade, travel and tourism must be eased between the SAARC countries. Second, Infrastructure must be developed to promote trade. Third, the misconceptions existing between people of different South Asian states must be corrected and the misperceptions removed. Fourth, new visa regimes must be implemented— not only businessmen, but also people of other professions such as doctors, lawyers, historians, and above all research scholars must be given liberal visas. Lastly, interaction between tradesmen and artists of the SAARC members must be encouraged. He concluded by saying that the neighbours are there to stay, so engaging in trade with each other is important.

A.W. Asanga Abeyagoonasekara, Executive Director of Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS), Sri Lanka, was the next speaker. He said that South Asia needs to have a harmonious society. He pointed out that regional cooperation is necessary for the eradication of hunger and poverty in South Asia. He said that the region must be restored to its former self as a centre of spirituality. Muinul Islam from Chittagong University of Bangladesh also expressed his thoughts on the matter and said that development is a participatory process. But he said that development should include the people and that he would reiterate that true development is only in terms of human resource development. In this respect, he pointed out that four important dimensions have not been touched upon in the course of the Conference— gender, education, health, and income inequality. He said that the patterns set up by India and Pakistan must be followed, and that the feudal political culture of countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal should divert to the path of democracy. Only then regional cooperation would flourish. Finally Dr. Haroun Mir of ACRPS, Kabul expressed the need for infrastructural development and resolution of the political problems between Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Mr. Thapa, the Chairperson, concluded the session by saying that although they are look at a half-filled glass of water as half-full rather than half-empty, they should make sure the level of the water does not fall, and that they should continue adding to it drop by drop so that the level of the water keeps going up.

VALEDICTORY SESSION

In the final session, Shri Sudhir T. Devare was the Chair and the valedictory address was given by Honourable Shri E. Ahamed, Minister of State for External Affairs, India. Shri Ahamed was welcomed by a bouquet. This was followed by release of a book titled “Emerging China: Prospects for partnership in Asia”, edited by Sudhir T. Devare, Prof. Swaran Singh, and Dr. Reena Marwah, and is published by Routledge.

Ahamed, in his address, congratulated ICWA and AAS for reviving the Asian Relations Conference which has started in 1947. He said that the Conference will succeed in evolving the blue print of action. He said that India’s approach to the neighbours must be mutually beneficial. The communication between people must be enhanced. He said that wider regional cooperation is good for all. He also said that SAARC remains the driving force for infrastructural and social development. He pointed out that for the Least Development Countries in South Asia, India has indeed reduced the sensitive items list. The total amount of trade that takes place in the region is, according to him, below potential. He said that the South Asian University is a vehicle for cultural integration in South Asia. He reiterated the point of enhancement of people to people ties. He concluded by saying that there should be a greater involvement in engaging the interactive agenda.

Mr. Devare reiterated the need for people to people contact in the region and liberalisation of the Visa rules within South Asian countries. Therefore, he said, in South Asia there is a need to transform and a need to take concrete actions.

This was followed by the Vote of Thanks by Prof. Reena Marwah. She pointed out that in all the seven sessions of the Conference regional cooperation rather than competition was underlined. She thanked all delegates, ICWA Director-General Mr. Devare, Prof. Swaran Singh, all participants and diplomats, technical department and organisers, and E. Ahamed for their contributions and participation in the Conference. She ended by saying that the longer we take to resolve the differences between the countries the longer we will suffer.

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