Thimpu, Apr 28: Warning that the South Asian region faces the threat of being 'marginalised', Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called on the countries to take steps to ensure freer movement of goods, services and people.
At the 16th SAARC Summit, Dr Singh drew attention to the importance of cooperation between member countries of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) in working towards being well-connected and empowered.
"The 21st century cannot be an Asian century unless South Asia marches together," Singh said at the summit here.
Expressing regret that the share of intra-regional trade and investment in total trade and investment flows was much lower and less potential than that of East and South-East Asia, the Prime Minister said, "I have a vision of inclusive growth in South Asia both within our countries and for the region of South Asia as a whole."
"Regional and sub-regional imbalances in growth affect all of us in varying degrees, and have led to social unrest," he said, emphasising on the development at the grassroot level.
"We must ask ourselves what kind of South Asia we wish to create for our present and future generations? At this anniversary summit we should renew our compact to build a region that is better connected, better empowered, better fed and better educated," he stated at the summit attended by leaders from Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives.