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India committed to see SAU progress as flagship project of South Asian region: Swaraj

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New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who spoke at the maiden convocation ceremony of the South Asian University (SAU) today in the national capital, asserted the India remains committed to see the varsity progress as a flagship progress of the region.

Congratulating the students for the successful completion of their academic programme, Sushma recalled how the University was a concept that India had proposed at the 13th SAARC Summit held in Dhaka.

“Our collective mission was to establish a university dedicated to the region which will have the best in terms of facilities, faculty, academic input and research. Our endeavour was to build a culture of understanding and regional consciousness; nurture liberal, bright and quality leadership among our youth and build the capacity of the region in science, technology and other disciplines considered vital for improving the quality of life of our peoples. I am glad that with the first convocation at SAU, we have reached at a definitive stage towards its realization,” Swaraj said.

Highlighting that the establishment of the University is one of the most visible signs of transformation of SAARC from a declaratory phase to implementation phase, Swaraj added that quality education for all, adequately supported by physical, technical and other facilities, has remained a key focus area for SAARC leadership.

She also reaffirmed that the Indian Government on its part will do everything needed for the proper functioning and further development of the University.

“India is committed to bear 100% of the capital cost towards the establishment of the University. The Government has identified and allotted an area of about 100 acres of land. The construction of the campus has started, with the groundbreaking ceremony of the boundary wall taking place in the presence of Hon’ble External Affairs Minister last year. Construction of Phase 2 of the project is to start soon,” she said.

“India is committed to see that the University progresses as a flagship project of the region, and as a catalyst for progress in creation of knowledge pool. I understand that the University will be able to have its full-fledged courses in more disciplines once the campus is ready. We will ensure speedy completion of the project,” Swaraj added.

Stressing on the importance of SAARC as it embodies the aspirations of the people from the region, the Union Minister told the students that they have now become the ambassadors of the South Asia region and called on the to brace themselves to combat the challenges which the region faces.

“Despite strong growth and huge advances in education, healthcare and rural development, our region still has significant number of people living below the poverty line. We continue to face challenges in delivering food security, health, nutrition and education to our peoples. We have to find ways and means to unleash the true potential of our collective strength for transforming the region through rapid economic growth,” Swaraj said.

“As fresh graduates from the region, you can not only contribute to this process, but shape it. Youth are our future and demography is our advantage. I would urge each of you to think about how exposure and skills gained at the University can be best utilized to find creative solutions to the challenges that we are facing today,” she added.

She also thanked Nepal Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa for being present and participate in the convocation. (ANI)

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