India said it will bear the full cost of setting up an independent campus of the South Asian University, a SAARC institution which held its first convocation on Saturday, as it sent out a message of regional friendship and cooperation.
In his address to the graduating students in presence of Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh, said India was committed to bear 100 per cent of the capital cost towards establishment of the university campus which is now functioning from a temporary facility in New Delhi.
The Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister termed the university as a “testament” to the shared aspirations and collective prosperity of South Asia which he said can set an example of regional cooperation to the world. Terming the students as the leaders of tomorrow’s South Asia, Singh advised the students to keep their spirit of “friendship” alive as their vision will make a difference to the region.
“The government of India on its part will do everything needed for proper functioning and further development of the university. “The government has identified and allocated about 100 acres of land. The construction of the campus is in full swing and I am sure after the campus comes up it will get more disciplines and it will be a model campus for all universities,” Singh said.
Thapa, who is on a three day visit to India, expressed hope for shared prosperity of the region, backed by economic development and “led” by the high growth rate of India. Contending that South Asia was not about “poverty and backwardness”, Thapa, who also holds the foreign portfolio, said the countries of the region have made strides in economic and social developments, especially in technology, “so much so that the world looks at us for IT support”.
The South Asian university had started functioning in the year 2010.652 students were awarded Master’s degree and 2 were conferred with MPhil degree at the convocation ceremony.
Noting that the South Asian region countries have common challenges like food security, poverty, Singh said the varsity was designed to ensure that solutions to these concerns are formulated. “I am glad that with the first convocation we have reached a definitive stage towards that realisation.
This is also a sign that we are now in the implementation phase from the declaratory phase,” Singh said. Singh said the future of the region rests on the pillars of trade, investment, assistance, operation, people to people contacts and connectivity.
“We have united history, geography, customs and tradition, religions and creeds that have given us a very composite culture. Be it sports, cuisine, art and culture or tradition or films, we have lot in common. “Cooperation in the field of education will be of paramount importance if we are to ensure improvement in interlinked destinies for the people of South Asia,” Singh said.
Thapa said the varsity was a symbol of knowledge and wisdom of our region. “South Asia is responsible for the genesis of art, the conception of science. This is the region that refined agriculture, architecture, astronomy, meteorology, etc.
“Our region is filled with glory in the field of knowledge and wisdom with past teachers like Chanakya, Shankaracharya, Valmiki, Ved Vyas. Gautam Buddha was born and enlightened in this region. “And now his preaching and principles have become the ideals for millions throughout the world,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.