The Royal Government of Bhutan, which is the current Chair of SAARC, organized a number of commemorative events to mark the Twenty-fifth (Silver Jubilee) Anniversary of the establishment of SAARC in Thimphu on 8 December 2010. The Secretary General of SAARC, Dr. Sheel Kant Sharma was specially invited to Thimphu to participate in the commemorative events.
A thousand butter lamp lighting ceremony was held in the morning of 8 December led by Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, Hon. Minister for Works and Human Settlements and the Secretary General of SAARC, Dr. Sheel Kant Sharma. The ceremony was attended by Cabinet Ministers, senior government officials and members of the international community based in Thimphu. The monk body said prayers for the well being and success of SAARC during the butter lamp lighting ceremony. Following the butter lamp ceremony, Dr. Sheel Kant Sharma called on Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley, Hon. Prime Minister of Bhutan and Chairperson of SAARC.
A resolution on SAARC was tabled by the Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, National Assembly of Bhutan (lower house of Parliament). The resolution was passed by the National Assembly of Bhutan. Among others, the resolution pays tribute to the founders of SAARC and reaffirms the commitment of the people of Bhutan to the purposes and principles of the SAARC Charter. Dr. Sheel Kant Sharma, Secretary General of SAARC was invited to witness the passing of this resolution by the National Assembly of Bhutan.
A reception was hosted in the evening of 8 December 2010 by the Hon. Prime Minister of Bhutan. A commemorative stamp to mark the Silver Jubilee of SAARC was released during the reception by the Hon. Prime Minister of Bhutan and Dr. Sheel Kant Sharma, Secretary General of SAARC. The Hon. Prime Minister of Bhutan and Dr. Sheel Kant Sharma addressed the reception highlighting the important achievements of SAARC over the last twenty five years. They also paid tribute to the founders of SAARC and underscored the importance and usefulness of the Association as a means to realize the hopes and aspirations of the people of South Asia.
Round Table Conference: SAARC Agriculture Centre (SAC), Dhaka, Bangladesh in association with Agriculture Reporters Forum in Bangladesh organized a Round Table Conference on “Regional collaboration for achieving food security in South Asia”, in Dhaka on the eve of SAARC Charter Day to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of adoption the SAARC Charter. Dr. Wais Kabir, Executive Chairman, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC), Mr. Md. Sufiur Rahman, Director-General (SAARC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Bangladesh also attended among others. In his theme paper, Dr. Kabir highlighted present opportunities & constraints of agriculture in South Asia, challenges of agricultural research and development in the region. Mr. Md. Sufiur Rahman, Director-General (SAARC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Bangladesh said that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is the largest regional cooperation group in the world. Our potentials are indeed enormous. We have a lot of prospects and complementarities for development, which we are trying to utilize for the benefits of the people in South Asia. The eminent and renowned scientists, extension service providers, development partners, Non-Government organizations, Educationists and journalists took part in the round table discussion. Eighty participants attended the conference.
Rally : A rally was also organized from the premises of the National Parliament Bhaban to Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council Complex, Farmgate to mark the occasion of the SAARC Charter Day. Dr. Wais Kabir, Executive Chairman, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council released pigeons from South Plaza of the National Parliament Bhaban just before start of the rally. About 60 people, including scientists, Extension Service Providers, SAC personnel participated with T-Shirt and caps with SAARC Monogram in the Rally.
Seminar: A seminar was also at Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council Auditorium on “Food Security in SAARC Countries through Regional Cooperation”. Dr. Md. Zainul Abedin, IRRI Representative in Bangladesh and a renowned personality in agricultural sector of Bangladesh presented the keynote paper in the seminar on this auspicious occasion. Begum Matia Choudhury, MP, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Bangladesh graced this occasion as the Chief Guest. Mr. CQK Mustaq Ahmed, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Bangladesh presided over the seminar. Dr. Wais Kabir, Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council also present as special Guest in the seminar. Mr. Md. Sufiur Rahman, Director-General (SAARC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Bangladesh and Dr. Md. Abdur Razzaque, former Executive Chairman, BARC and Director, SAARC Agriculture Centre also spoke in the seminar and expressed their views on this occasion.
High Officials of various Ministries, Government, Non –Government and Private organizations, Scientists from NARS Institutions and Extension Service Providers of different Departments, Educationist from different Universities, Dignitaries from the High Commission/Embassies from SAARC Member Countries, Journalists and Media Personnel, Development partners also attended in this important event. Around three hundred participants participated in the event.
Dinner : The observance of the SAARC Charter Day ended followed by Dinner at BARC Auditorium. Excellencies, Director Generals, Media personnel, policy makers, scientists, Extension service providers, SAC personnel were attended in the dinner on 8 December. One hundred and fifty people attended the dinner.
SAARC Meteorological Research Centre, Dhaka also celebrated SAARC Charter Day by organizing drawing competition on SAARC National Disaster & Essay writing on Flood. Around 80 participants from various Government and non-government organizations and 40 students from various secondary level schools participated in the opening ceremony followed by the Technical Sessions on ‘SAARC SMRC and the Science of Weather Forecasting’; ‘Disaster in the SAARC Region’ and ‘Cyclone Disaster in Bangladesh’. Certificates and awards were given to the students who stood first, second and third in the competition and prizes were also given to other students for encouragements who participated in the programme.
SAARC Documentation Centre in New Delhi organised an Inter School Debate, Painting and Quiz Competitions on 8th December 2010. Eighty five students from seven schools from Delhi participated in the following competitions:
1. Painting Competitions: 39 students
2. Debate: 18 students
3. Quiz Competitions: 28 students
Twelve teachers also accompanied the students. Students were awarded
First, Second and Third prize in each category and also three consolation
prizes in each category. The certificates for participation were given to
all the remaining participants. The theme of competitions were burning
topics in SAARC region like save tiger, climate change and awareness about
SAARC etc. Beside above competitions, one workshop on "Advance WinISIS" was organized during 06-10 December 2010 for participants from Member States in the field of Library and Information Science. Eight participants from Member States participated in the workshop.
On the occasion of Silver Jubilee of SAARC Foundation Day, SAARC Disaster Management Centre, New Delhi also organized a Panel Discussion on ‘Regional Cooperation in South Asia: Problems and Prospects’. Click here for details on this event.
The SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre, organized a festival for kids and children in the most popular Children’s Park ‘Kudakudhinge Bageecha” in Male. The main activities in the festival were quiz competition about SAARC, drawing competition on painting of flags of SAARC Countries and photography of SAARC countries national dress by children. The main objectives of these events were to raise awareness and understanding about SAARC and its role in socio-economic and cultural development in the SAARC Region. Around 400 children have attended the festivities.
To create public awareness and understanding about SAARC, a Special Supplement on SAARC Charter Day was also published in a daily newspaper of Maldives ‘Haveeru’.
SAARC Information Centre and SAARC Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Centre in Kathmandu organized an interaction on the occasion of SAARC Charter Day on 8th December 2010. In his inaugural address, Minister for Information and Communication, Mr. Shanker Pokharel said that more collaboration and harmony is needed in the world now. He said that on the basis of cultural, economic and social diversity and equality, SAARC countries should forge unity and head towards prosperity. He mentioned that “SAARC which is a platform to raise common problems and solve them should strive for peace and development,”. SAARC Secretariat Director Azizuddin Ahmadzada said that SAARC can only achieve its goal through unity among the member states.
SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SAARC CCI) organized a seminar under the theme of “Intra-regional Connectivity in South Asia: Challenges and Prospects”’ on December 8, 2010 in Islamabad.
The seminar was inaugurated by Chief Guest Mr. Sharat Sabharwal, Indian High Commissioner, Guest of Honour Mr. Jahangir Bader, Secretary General, Pakistan People’s Party and the welcome address at the event was extended by Mr. Iftikhar Ali Malik, Vice President SAARC CCI, who said that lack of political commitment, protectionists policies, non-resolution of issues have been regarded as the main hurdles in the process of development of South Asia despite the fact that all member states of SAARC have been making endeavors for enhancing cooperation at socio-economic level, however earnest commitment to resolve political issues is drastically required to achieve the objective of SAFTA.
Working session of the seminar was chaired by Dr. Safdar Sohail, DG- Ministry of Commerce while Dr. Zafar Mueen Nasar, Chief of Research at PIDE (Islamabad) delivered lecture on “Intra-regional Connectivity in South Asia” and highlighted the Challenges and prospects for SAARC. Mr. Rehamatullah Javed Vice Chairman of SAARC CCI Trade Facilitation Council responded the lecture. Some valuable suggestions and recommendations for policy making were discussed by the distinguished speakers at the occasion representing SAARC Countries including Mr. Durga Parasad Bhandari, Deputy High Commissioner, Royal Embassy of Nepal, Dr. Muhammad Pervaz, Program Leader, Technology Transfer and Mr. Shahzada Khalid, Deputy Director at SAARC Energy Centre, and the vote of thanks was extended to the respected delegates and participants by Mr. Shahrukh Mailk, Chairman of SAARC CCI Young Entrepreneur Forum.
The seminar was widely attended by the senior diplomats from SAARC member and observer countries in Pakistan including Mr. Afrasiab, Director General South Asia Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Govt. of Pakistan, Mr. Suhrab Hossain, High Commissioner of Bangladesh, CEOs/Presidents of SAARC affiliated institutions, business leaders, academic experts, professionals and civil society representatives etc. who met and shared their views to make SAARC a prosperous region.
The SAARC Cultural Centre in Colombo celebrated SAARC Charter Day by hosting a reception. Special guests consisting of Honourable Ministers, Deputy Ministers, members of the Diplomatic Community and friends of the centre were invited to the Reception. At the reception a message to mark the occasion from His Excellency, the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapakse, as well the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka was read out by the Director of the SAARC Cultural Centre, Mr. G.L.W Samarasinghe. A message from His Excellency the Secretary General of SAARC, Dr.Sheel Kant Sharma was also read out by the Deputy Director of the SAARC Cultural Centre. Members of the media were also present, and Prime Time News in Sri Lanka carried a news item the next day.