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Saturday May 30, 2020

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Unity in diversity!

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If we compare the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation with the European Union, SAARC stands nowhere. It is a matter of great concern for the Heads of these States that after the formation of SAARC it could not do much in any field of international endeavour.

Both in the inter- and intra- aspects of its rationale SAARC has not been able to shake off a persistent colonial hangover of suspicion where open hostilities are barely concealed. For example, India has always been under tremendous pressure from Pakistan to cede territory in Kashmir after having failed to instigate secession in Punjab. There has been a regular daily infiltration across the borders with Bangladesh into West Bengal and other north-eastern states. Indian attempts to stop it by setting up barbed wire fencing has evoked hostility though it must be said, with gratitude, that the present Head of government Sheikh Hasina has, as a matter of policy, refused to allow anti-India activities from Bangladesh soil and has gone so far as to arrest and hand over these elements to India for trial. Nepal and Sri Lanka have their own reservations about what they describe as India’s ‘big brother’ image. Bhutan stands out as an exception in eclecticism.

Otherwise, the element of regional cooperation has become subsumed in a constant overdone fear of becoming overshadowed by the larger and stronger India. There is no agreed common minimum programme by which the SAARC States can enlarge their cooperation for mutual benefit unlike as within the European Union where the initial hesitation over the surrender of certain elements of sovereignty has since been overcome because of the larger benefits that accrue from cooperation. SAARC has thus proved to be only an institution which keeps organising some or the other conclave in each other’s States from time to time which has somehow now become a ritual. I do not remember if at any time any State has ever given due thought on the Mission of this organisation.

When there is no trust between the member-States then what is the use of such a facile institution?

Times are changing. Even the EU is evolving and finding ways to include new members into its fold. Now is the time for introspection among the member-States of SAARC as to where they intend taking their people and how. We have seen in the case of Germany that both East and West could merge in spite of the many contradictions in their relationship and they are now quite comfortable, stable and happy after their merger. Progress is palpable in the European States even though exceptions are always there. Some of the States are not in very good shape. Their economy is worsening day by day. But still they are united and are trying their best to achieve progress and growth of their people. The European States are also struggling with the recession and the transfer of labour and other major problems but still they see good reasons to stay united. All the States are working in a very cordial manner and they enjoy peace on their borders. No infiltration or border disputes arise. In my opinion the so-called SAARC could well be dissolved or at least India must come out of it so as to at least save some hard earned money of it’s people which has been wasted for many years.

Has ever our government thought seriously about its continued participation in an organisation that does not appear to be able to take its people to a higher level of existence?

It is high time now that all the member-States of SAARC decide, with some urgency, on how to tackle the many serious problems that confront all of us like terrorism, price hike, exploding populations and climate change etc. and its demographic effects. India needs to take the lead and I am sure that our eminence grise can come up with solutions to regional and global problems that in the ultimate analysis affect the future of India and Indians as well.

Well, here is another special edition in your hands, dear reader and I am sure that you will like this as well. We will be coming up with another special edition on Pakistan in the month of April. It will be a very exhaustive one and I am sure that anyone who has an interest in Indo-Pak relations would like to retain it as a collector’s edition for his reference and reading pleasure.

The passing away of Mr. K. Subrahmanyam is a personal loss for me and we all at DSA will miss his mentoring and wise counsel. DSA is being hailed as the harbinger of a revolution in India's defence and security journalism. A great deal of credit for this goes to Mr. K. Subrahmanyam.

With this issue we are introducing a new feature Defence and Security Techshow, highlighting Indian and International companies in the defence and security domain by featuring their products, technologies and services. We invite leading manufacturers, importers and exporters to use this space to introduce and promote their world class products, technologies and services in the booming Indian market and around the world. Please mail your product write-ups with high resolution pictures to




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