New Delhi Conference

SAPRI’s Inaugural Conference in New Delhi: ‘Delivering Inclusive and Sustainable Development’

A two-day conference on the theme ‘Delivering Inclusive and Sustainable Development’, was organized by the South Asia Policy & Research Institute (SAPRI)and held on 9 – 10April 2012 in New Delhi, in partnership with the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi andClub de Madrid.

A galaxy of former Heads of Government and academics from the region and beyond participated and made presentations at the Conferenceheld at New Delhi’s Taj Mahal Hotel. Among thedignitaries were four-former Presidents, i.e., Andres Pastrana Arango of Colombia, President CassamUteem of Mauritius, Luis Alberto Lacalle of Uruguay and former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who is the Chair of SAPRI.

Delivering the inaugural address,Madam Chandrika Kumaratunga, referred to the deplorable condition in which most people in South Asia are living,althoughmany South Asian economies have benefited from accelerated growth and development. “Hundreds of millions of our citizens have been left behind, continuing to live in conditions of extreme poverty and are even becoming poorer”, she said.

She pointed out that economic development was only one part of the solutionfor reaching development goals. She said that it was not adequateas a holistic plan of action encompassing socio-political aspects too, needs to be adopted. Communities and groups that were hitherto excluded must become equal partners, having equal rights in the economic, social and political spheres.  “History demonstrates that economic deprivation and inequality, social differentiation and unfulfilled political aspirations invariably lead to dissent and even violent conflict”she added.

She further said that studies have clearly shown that when all citizens are guaranteed equal rights, their respective identities are respected and they are given the right for free expression, they become a productive, vibrant part of the State, celebrating the richness of its diversity, while helping to build a united, strong and stable country. She went on to say that her personal experience in governance has shown that the only magic potion capable of binding peoples belonging to diverse communities into one united nation isdemocracy andpluralism.

The panelists presented findings from their studies, citing examples of policies, programmes and interventions that had achieved equitable development as well as social and political inclusivity which led to the achievement of high economic growth, political stability and peace.

President Uteem of Mauritius and President Lacalle of Uruguay gave vivid examples of how their respective countries had been transformed and their economies rejuvenated due to inclusive development policies. President Pastrana of Colombia who held office until 2004, spoke on his efforts to negotiate with guerilla groups and the delivery of services to the poor.

The participants of the Conference agreed that equitable development and inclusive societies were the cornerstones of stability and peace of nations. Various policies and measures that could be adopted to promote shared societies and shared development were discussed during the proceedings.

SAPRI plans to carry the message of the conference to the eight countries of the region and beyond, through diverse events. The conclusions of the conference will be published and distributed widely.

The themes covered at the conference:

1.         Recent Global Developments: Impact on South Asia

2.         Education and Health Services for All

3.         Identity and Exclusion

4.         Sustainable Development, Identity and Inclusion

5.         Horizontal Inequalities and Conflict

6.         The State and Inclusivity

7.         Education: Key to Promote Respect and Diversity

The panelist and moderators included;

Lord Meghnad Desai- UK, Shri. Mani Shankar Aiyar- India, Prof. Pratap Bhanu Mehta- CPR, India,Prof. K.C. Sivaramakrishnan- CPR, India, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia- India, Dr. Shankar Acharya- India, Dr. Yaga Venugopal Reddy- India, Prof. Bibek Debroy- India, Dr. Shekhar Shah- India,Prof. Ms. Zoya Hassan JNU, India, Dr. Rajesh Venugopal- LSE, Dr. Kamal Hossain- Bangladesh, Prof. Rehman Sobhan- Bangladesh, Dr. Shahid Kardar- Pakistan, Prof. Madhukar Shumshere Rana- Nepal, Mr. Carlos Westendorp- Club de Madrid, Prof. Frances Stewart- Oxford, Mr. Steve Killelea- Australia, Dr. Daniel Shapiro- Harvard, and Mr. Sean Carroll- USAID

The participants from Sri Lanka were former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Ms. Priyanthi Fernando, Dr. PakiasothySarawanamuttu, Dr. Ram Manikkalingam and Prof. Gamini  Keerawella.

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