Focus: GS-II International Relations, GS-III Science and Technology, Disaster Management, Prelims

Why in news?

  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) should create a fund to fight the threat of COVID-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on 15th March 2020 – Addressing the first ever video conference among the heads of governments of the SAARC member countries.
  • Foreign Secretary of India Harsh Vardhan Shringla and his counterparts from other member countries of SAARC should meet and decide the plan ahead for the creation of the SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund.
  • Proposal from the South Asian leaders came days after the World Health Organisation (WHO) floated the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund with the help of corporate bodies, foundations and the UN Foundation.

SAARC

  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of states in South Asia
  • Its member states are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • SAARC maintains permanent diplomatic relations at the United Nations as an observer and has developed links with multilateral entities, including the European Union.

Political Issues in SAARC

  • Lasting peace and prosperity in South Asia has been elusive because of the various ongoing conflicts in the region.
  • Political dialogue is often conducted on the margins of SAARC meetings which have refrained from interfering in the internal matters of its member states.
  • During the 12th and 13th SAARC summits, extreme emphasis was laid upon greater cooperation between the SAARC members to fight terrorism.
  • The 19th SAARC summit scheduled to be held in Pakistan was called off as India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan decided to boycott it.
  • It was for the first time that four countries boycotted a SAARC summit, leading to its cancellation.

SAARC Disaster Management Centre

  • South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Disaster Management Centre (SDMC-IU) has been set up at Gujarat Institute of Disaster Management (GIDM) Campus, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India.
  • Eight Member States, i.e., Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are expected to be served by the SDMC (IU).
  • It is entrusted with the responsibility of serving Member States by providing policy advice, technical support on system development, capacity building services and training for holistic management of disaster risk in the SAARC region.
  • The centre also facilitates exchange of information and expertise for effective and efficient management of disaster risk.
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