GANGTOK, April 22
Government of India has nominated Prof Mahendra P Lama, Founding Vice
Chancellor of Sikkim University and Additional Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs Mr. Asoke Kumar Mukerji in the prestigious and newly created South Asia Forum as its representatives.
At the 16th SAARC Summit held at Thimphu on 28th and 29th April 2010, heads of State or Government of 8 South Asian countries “emphasized the need to develop a ‘Vision Statement’. They agreed to form a ‘South Asia Forum’ for the generation of debate, discussion and the exchange of ideas on South Asia and its future development. The forum consists of eminent personalities of diverse background, from all SAARC Member States. The Forum would provide inputs, based on a comprehensive understanding, for charting out the future course of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in the medium and long run and recommend, if required, the necessary improvements required in the existing mechanisms. Such a Forum could function on public-private partnership lines, and allow for multiple inputs beyond governments into the consideration of the future of SAARC.
The Forum would aim to facilitate the realization of the goal of a South Asian Economic Union. The South Asia Forum will be a unique construct. Although Track-II meetings involving some SAARC countries have been held in the past, there has been no precedent of a regional forum endorsed by the Heads of State and Government of SAARC Member States with participation from outside governments. The Forum could eventually be modeled on existing successful initiatives of a similar nature such as the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) based in China, the World Economic Forum (WEF) based in Davos, Switzerland and the Asia Pacific Roundtable (APR) based in Australia.
In 1997, Prof Lama was nominated by the Government of India as its representative in the Independent Expert Group set up by the SAARC Summit held in Colombo. In 2006, he was also invited by the Asian Development Bank, Manila and the South Asia Centre for Policy Studies (SACEPS), Kathmandu to review the entire activities of SAARC since it was established in 1986.