South Asia’s youth gather to find solutions to region’s problems

November 24th, 2008 - 6:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) Faces reflecting their determination to bring about change in the governance of their nations, youth representatives from eight south Asian countries met to discuss the nature and possible solutions to problems hindering progress and development in the region.As democracy slowly takes hold in several south Asian countries - like Pakistan and Nepal where newly elected popular governments are in place and Bangladesh where elections are due next month - youth representatives from eight SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries met here Monday, to develop a platform toward “democracy, peace and open borders”.

The 100 odd representatives in 18-30 years age group drawn from the fields of media, politics, arts, law and business, hoped “to create space for liberal dialogue” during the South Asian Youth Summit 2008.

The event was organised by Liberal Youth South Asia (LYSA) and Centre for Public Policy Research with support of FNF (Freidrich-Naumann-Stiftung Für die Freiheit) at the Constitution Club here.

“The turbulent past of south Asia in the past 60 years has cost the region dearly. The prospects of a region, which could have been a leading geo-political entity in a multipolar world, have been dampened. Therefore, it is high time new solutions and right directions are sought specially with the youth of the region,” LYSA secretary general D. Dhanuraj told IANS.

“Networking is the key to understand and achieve development goals - that’s what the summit is for,” he added.

The inaugural session of the two-day event saw an eminent panel addressing the issues of democracy and youth participation in polity.

India’s Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports M. S. Gill said: “It is very heartening to see the youth take a stand on such issues. After all south Asia is the most populous region in the world - over 40 percent of the world’s population - so we do not have a dearth of minds to work out effective solutions.”

In the current situation when newly elected governments were being formed, the youth have an integral role to play, he said.

“Promote peace - we have been struggling with war with Pakistan, and finally what will surface as conclusive dialogue will be void of terror and violence,” Gill emphasised.

Asserting that before “opening borders, one must open minds”, he said for this, it was essential to bridge the information divide between the countries.

“I am bewildered as to why till date, I cannot watch Pakistani television programmes, while Zee TV and Sony can be viewed there”, the minister said.

Also on the panel was industrialist Naveen Jindal, who is also one of the younger faces in India’s Parliament.

The summit that has participants from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanks, Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan, culminates Tuesday with a declaration of intent for the following year wherein the organisers and participants will work toward issues such as governance, peace and civil society alternatives.

Delegates and participants will also form a human chain near India Gate to protest terrorism in south Asia.

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