How to realize SAARC objectives

mahindha raja paksa and anni
Mahindha Rajapaksa and Anni

Following through the news about the ongoing 17th SAARC summit in Addu, it appears that there indeed are some beneficial ideas floating around in the summit. Here are some snippets of ideas under discussion at the summit:

  • Pakistani delegation proposed to work towards single currency in the region like Euro and to remove visa restrictions throughout the SAARC region.
  • Sheikh Haseena of Bangladesh spoke about this issue in terms of removing restrictions to migrant workers through SAARC region.
  • Dr. Manmohan Singh emphasized the need to open up economies for foreign investment.
  • The Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa proposes to iron out their position with India and Maldives on fish poachery by south Indian fishermen.
  • Not to be outdone, Maldives proposed common railway link agreement between SAARC member nations which hopefully will make travel between some SAARC countries easier and cheaper.

Looking at these positions, its evident that each politician is just voicing concerns that is primarily advantageous to their economies. This is politically playing it safe and treading the well-worn path. This could be the reason why the region is slow to adapt to any meaningful beneficial proposals from successive SAARC summits over the years. What is needed for the region is bold daring moves to bring meaningful changes to the region. Currently the position of member countries is such that its a pain even to obtain a student visa to most SAARC countries despite all the talk of SAARC brotherhood.

To realize SAARC objectives, the leaders need to rise above the day to day quibbling with political drama and be visionary in thinking. Of course it is easier said than done and in giant countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh one would be naive to think that a magic spell exists to rise above that level that keeps our politicians at permanently at their lows.

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SAARC summit in Addu

17th SAARC convention center at Addu
17th SAARC convention center at Addu

After months of preparation, Addu will today host the 17th SAARC summit with several world leaders from South East Asian countries. Talks on agenda include the usual India-Pakistan befriending talks, transportation agreements and the idea to use single currency throughout the region like EU. SAARC is generally perceived to be a talk shop for leaders from the region and there is talk (just as before!) of giving more teeth to SAARC secretariat to make SAARC more pragmatic.

An example of the disconnect between SAARC summit organizers and the people is the ongoing demonstrations in Addu in protest at the monuments erected for the summit which depicts engraves images and statutes which are offensive to local belief and customs.

Just as SAARC has an agenda of things to talk about, SAARC also does have a smaller list of things not to talk about. These include to be hush about human rights violations in the nearby Burma (the ruling military junta even changed the name of the country to Myanmar), not to mind the media restrictions freshly ordered in Sri Lanka and not to be too concerned about US violating Pakistan’s sovereignty by conducting military operations without Pakistani consent.

Ayada Maldives opens

Ayada Maldives
Ayada Maldives

The latest resort to join the resort list opens quietly on 30th September and the resort looks absolutely stunning. The resort is quite far from Male’ but is actually another addition to growing  tourism in the south.

The specialty about the resort will be its Turkish theme in services and concept, such as the Hammam (steam bath), the Turkish hookahs (smoking water pipes) etc.

Here are some quick facts about the resort.

  • distance: 268 miles south of the capital Male
  • size: 150,000 square metres
  • number of rooms: The 112-villa
  • 33 Beach Villas,
    4 Beach Suites,
    14 Sunset Beach Suites,
    33 Ocean Villas,
    11 Sunset Lagoon Suites,
    16 Sunset Ocean Suites
    1 duplex Ayada Royal Ocean Suite.
  • seven restaurants
  • an extensive 3500 sqm AySpa
  • Health Club managed by ESPA
  • dive and water-sports centre
  • kid’s club.
  • investment: $110 million
  • proposed number of staff: 350
  • rooms price range: 1300$ to 10000$

links:
http://www.asiatraveltips.com/news11/3110-AyadaMaldives.shtml

http://maldives.net.mv/3689/ayada-maldives-resort-opens/

http://ayadamaldives.com/

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=turkish-firm-to-open-luxury-hotel-in-the-maldives-2011-07-25