INVITATION FOR PREPARATORY MEETING IN CHENNAI ON JUNE 14TH 2008, TOWARDS ORGANIZING THE PEOPLES SAARC:
The South Asian Alliance for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) heads of states will meet for their annual summit this time in Colombo from 27th July – 3rd August, 2008.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established with the stated objective of promoting the welfare of the people of South Asia, to improve their quality of life, to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region, and to provide all individuals an opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potential. As such, it was expected to overcome traditional geographical hostilities, rivalries, and conflicts and to create a culture of friendship, mutual trust, understanding, confidence and economic cooperation among the countries of the region.
However SAARC has failed to fulfil the promised goals. Instead, the policies pursued by the ruling elite of the region have only created conditions of exclusion, marginalization, and the denial of rights, justice and democratic freedom to the majority of the people of the region.
The people of the South Asian countries do not want war and conflict; they want unity based on mutual cooperation, equality and respect for each others' sovereignty. The elite that govern the South Asian countries are not advocating such a unity, because they represent the interests of big business and multinational corporations, who in turn are competing for markets and control of natural resources in the entire region.
With the official SAARC being unable to fulfil its promises, the idea of People's SAARC was floated almost a decade ago. The idea, concept, nature, role and objectives of the People's SAARC have been deliberated in several fora over the years. People's SAARC is a focal point and platform for sharing, forging and strengthening solidarity linkages along like-minded action groups, resources agencies, progressive individuals, among others, with the common aim of promoting a movement for democracy adn justice, and to build peoples resistance against the forces of globalization across nations.
To discuss a peoples approach to South Asian unity and to respond to the SAARC Summit in Colombo, representatives of a cross section of social movements and NGOs from the various countries of South Asia, particularly from Srilanka, met in Colombo on 31 May and 1 June to discuss a parallel event with a people's perspective, immediately before the event, with a view to respond to and influence the agenda and discussions of the official meeting. This parallel event is being held in Colombo from July 18th to 20th, 2008.
The organizations present in the recent meeting in Colombo were conscious of the fact that all movements and organizations were not present and the process needs to be expanded to ensure the widest possible participation of organizations, movements in India. In order to make this possible, a preparatory meeting is being held in Chennai on June 14th from 10 am to 6 pm at
Inter Church Service Agency (ICSA),
93, Pantheon Road,
Egmore (opp. to Egmore Museum),
Chennai 600 008
Accommodation will be provided (at delegates cost) on request.
Please send the hosts a line to confirm arrival and departure to firstname.lastname@example.org and also indicate whether you need accommodation, so that they can book rooms.
The tentative agenda of the meeting includes:
South Asia's current political, economic, social and cultural scenario and peoples imagination for a South Asian Union
India's role in South Asia
Main issues to be highlighted in the parallel conference
Indian delegation and resource people for the parallel conference
Those who attended the two days meeting in Colombo include Babu Mathews, Ashok Chowdhary, P. Chenniah, Ajit Muricken, Meena Menon, Varsha Rajan Berry, Jatin Desai, Anil K Singh, Jaya Velankar, Mani, Beulah Azariah, Gita Bharadwaj, Wilfred D'Costa.
Contact for Chennai meeting:
Initiatives: Women in Development
'Almighty Royal' G-3,
29/1B & 29/1C, South Mada Street,
Chennai 600 107
Phone: 044-24700855, 24798942