South Asian University dream to turn real by 2010

May 27th, 2008 - 12:49 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) The SAARC dream of establishing a knowledge network to bring students and teachers of the region together inched a step closer to reality with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Monday formally dedicating a site chosen to establish a South Asian University. In a sign that the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has moved from being a talk shop to serious business, Mukherjee announced that the university would hold its first academic session in 2010.

The main campus in New Delhi will be hosting nearly 5,000 students and an international faculty. It will also have linked campuses in other South Asian countries.

“This moment, which has the potential of deeply influencing the collective future of South Asia, represents also the collective will of South Asia’s leaders to pursue projects aimed at promoting harmony among the future generations of this region,” Mukherjee said at the dedication ceremony in Maidan Garhi in Mehrauli.

“The path-breaking project for a South Asian University will help realize the dream of thousands of young men and women who will gather here, not only for high quality education, but also in a spirit of fraternity and friendship,” Mukherjee said.

“Their endeavours, we hope, will ultimately contribute to building a better, more peaceful and developed South Asia,” he said. The function was also attended by heads of missions and senior diplomats from eight countries of the SAARC.

Tejinder Khanna, Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and Prof. G.K. Chaddha, member, Economic Advisory Council and former vice chancellor, Jawaharlal Nehru University who has been formally appointed the CEO of the project, were also present at the function.

Underlining the collective will of SAARC nations to move from declaratory to implementation phase, Mukherjee said “it is among the first manifestations of concrete SAARC achievement on the ground.”

The proposed university is the brainchild of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He stressed that SAARC has moved towards it relatively quickly as an inter-governmental agreement on it was signed only at the 14th SAARC summit held in New Delhi last year.

Manmohan Singh had first proposed the idea for a South Asian university at the 13th SAARC summit in Dhaka.

Chaddha has been entrusted with the nitty gritty of building the university that includes acquiring land, overseeing its construction, and drawing up its charter, byelaws, business plan, governance structure and course curricula.

The project is being executed by the ministry of external affairs in consultation with the University Grants Commission and the department of education of the human resource development ministry.

“India deems it an honour to host this flagship project,” the minister stressed.

Placing the university in the broader context of regional integration, Mukherjee said: “I would like to say that it is time for SAARC to translate into reality the vision of its founding fathers and to realize our shared goals of peace, prosperity and cooperation. I would like to reaffirm India’s commitment to these goals.”

“The South Asian University will be one of the principal vehicles for this purpose,” he added.

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