South Asian Youths Commit To 'Improving Governance'

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New Delhi, Nov 26 (UNI) Calling ''lack of appropriate governance'' a hinderance to a ''peaceful, democratic and open'' South Asia, a 100- odd youths from member countries have declared ''our commitment'' to improving governance in the region.

''We envision a peaceful, democratic and open region,'' delegates to a 'South Asia Youth Summit' declared in New Delhi last night after deliberating for two days during which they ''identified lack of appropriate governance as a major reason hindering this goal.'' The participants who dubbed themselves 'liberal youth of South Asia' issued a 400-plus-word declaration of ''our commitment to work towards improving governance in the region.'' They asserted that ''We form more than half the population of South Asia and are an active stakeholder in South Asian progress and prosperity.'' The event co-organised by New Delhi-based Liberal Youth South Asia and Centre for Public Policy Research and supported by Germany's Friedrich Naumann Foundation was opened on Monday by Sports and Youth Affairs Minister M S Gill.

Among those who addressed the meet yesterday were Prof N R Madhava Menon who described India's human rights regime during a session on State, Democracy and Human Rights in South Asia.

The other speakers included Pakistan National Assembly Member Donya Aziz, Sri Lankan Additional District Judge Thushara Rajasinghe and Nepalese Samridhi-- prosperity-- foundation Arpita Nepal.

Sponsors said more than a hundred delegates from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka took part.

Maldives delegate had last minute travel problems.

Also attending were observers from the United Nations Children's Fund, Britain-based International Federation of Liberal Youth, the German Foundation and the Philippines.

Promoting youth participation in South Asian politics, governance, human rights, democracy, market economy, health, education were among issues the participants discussed.

The present - not just the future - belongs to youth, and if a nation can send rockets into space it can surely deliver nutrition to undernourished women and children, were some of the pointers offered during sessions.

In a session on Politics in South Asia, Gulmina Bilal, a Pakistani delegate, said the refrain that the future belongs to the youth, was hardly adequate insofar as the present also belongs to the youth.

In a session on Youth Participation in Development, UNICEF India's Communications Chief Angela Walker said if India ''can send a rocket into space, that same technology and human resource capacity can be used to make sure all of India's most vulnerable women and children have access to the health and nutrition they need.'' Before dispersing last night, the participants lit candles at India Gate, held hands to form a human chain, and pledged themselves to fighting terrorism in South Asia.

UNI MJ BDP BD1645

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