SAARC Countries The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) comprises eight memberstates (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri-Lanka) .The SAARC was established when its Charted was formally adopted on 8 December 1985.SAARC is a manifestation ofthe determination of the people of the South Asia to work together in a sprit of friendship, trust and understanding and to create an order based on mutual respect, equity and shared benefits.
SAARC: It’s Origin The South Asian Association for Regional Afghanistan Cooperation (SAARC) is an organization of South Asian nations, founded in December 1985 and dedicated to economic, Bangladesh technological, social, and cultural development emphasizing collective self- reliance. Its seven founding members are Bhutan Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan India joined the organization in 2005. Meetings of heads of state are usually scheduled annually; meetings of foreign secretaries, Maldives twice annually. It is headquartered in Kathmandu, Nepal. Nepal The 11 stated areas of cooperation are: agriculture; education, culture, and sports; Pakistan health, population, and child welfare; the environment and meteorology; rural Sri Lanka development (including the SAARC Youth Volunteers Program); tourism; transport; science and technology; communications.
The concept of SAARC was first adopted by Bangladesh during 1977, under the administration of President History Ziaur Rahman. In the late 1970s, SAARC nations agreed upon the creation of a trade bloc consisting of South Asian countries. The idea of regional cooperation in South Asia was again mooted in May 1980. The foreign secretaries of the seven countries met for the first time in Colombo in April 1981. The Committee of the Whole, which met in Colombo in August 1985, identified five broad areas for regional cooperation. New areas of cooperation were added in the following years.
Objectives The objectives of the Association as defined in the Charter are: to promote the welfare of the people of South Asia and to improve their quality of life; to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to provide all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potential; to promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia; to contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one anothers problems; to promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields; to strengthen cooperation with other developing countries; to strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters of common interest; and to cooperate with international and regional organisations with similar aims and purposes.
The SAARC Secretariat was established in Kathmandu on 16 January 1987 and was inaugurated by Late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal. It is headed by a Secretary General Secretariat appointed by the Council of Ministers from Member Countries in alphabetical order for a three-year term. He is assisted by the Professional and the General Services Staff, and also an appropriate number of functional units called Divisions assigned to Directors on deputation from Member States. The Secretariat coordinates and monitors implementation of activities, prepares for and services meetings, and serves as a channel of communication between the Association and its Member States as well as other regional organizations. The Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of the Secretariat which was signed by Foreign Ministers of member countries on 17 November 1986 at Bangalore, India contains various clauses concerning the role, structure and administration of the SAARC Secretariat as well as the powers of the Secretary-General. In several recent meetings the heads of state or government of member states of SAARC have taken some important decisions and bold initiatives to strengthen the organisation and to widen and deepen regional co-operation. The SAARC Secretariat and Member States observe 8 December as the SAARC Charter Day1.
South Asian Free Trade Area Over the years, the SAARC members have expressed their unwillingness on signing a free trade agreement. Though India has several trade pacts with Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, similar trade agreements with Pakistan and Bangladesh have been stalled due to political and economic concerns on both sides. In 1993, SAARC countries signed an agreement to gradually lower tariffs within the region, in Dhaka. Eleven years later, at the 12th SAARC Summit at Islamabad, SAARC countries devised the South Asia Free Trade Agreement which created a framework for the establishment of a free trade area covering 1.6 billion people. This agreement went into force on January 1, 2008. Under this agreement, SAARC members will bring their duties down to 20 per cent by 2009.
Countries in Focus1. BANGLADESH2. BHUTAN3. INDIA4. NEPAL
1.Bangladesh-Location Bangladesh is Located in the north-eastern part of South Asia. The majestic Himalayas stand some distance to the north, while in the south lays the Bay of Bengal. There is West Bengal border on the west and in the east lie the hilly and forested regions of Tripura, Mizoram (India) and Myanmar. These picturesque geographical boundaries frame a low lying plain of about 1,47,570 square kilometer criss-crossed by innumerable rivers and streams. Mighty rivers are the Padma (Ganges), the Brahmaputra (Jamuna) & the Meghna and the Karnafuli. Bangladesh offers many tourist attractions, including archaeological sites, historical mosques and monuments, longest natural beach in the world, picturesque landscape, hill forests and wildlife, rolling tea gardens and tribes. Tourists find the rich flora and fauna and colorful tribal life very enchanting. Each part of the country offers distinctly different topography, flavors and food. It is home to the Royal Bengal Tigers, freshwater pink dolphins, historical temples made of red earth. Some of the better known tourist attractions are: Srimangal, where miles of tea gardens are located, Mainamati, Mahasthangarh, Paharpur for archaeology, Rangamati, Kaptai and Coxs Bazar for sight seeing, and the Sundarbans for wild life and the greatest Mangrove forest of the world, and Foys Lake for scenic beauty.
Bangladesh-Places of Interest Historical places: National Memorial, Central Shahid Minar, Martyred Memorial,, Bahadurshah Park Curzon Hall Baldha Garden, Natore - Dighapatiya Rajbari, World War II Cemetery, Sagordari, Jessore Mujibnagar Memorial Gandhi Asram Hills & Islands: Rangamati - the lake district, Kaptai - The lake town, Bandarban - the roof of Bangladesh, Khagrachhari - the hilltop town, Mymensingh Moheshkhali Sonadia Island Forest & Jungle: Sundarban, Wari Bateshwar Mahasthangarh Paharpur Mainamati, Shait Gombudge Mosque, Kantajis Temple Lalbagh Fort, Sonargaon , Ahsan Manzil
Bangladesh- Dress Bangladeshi women habitually wear Sarees. Jamdani was once world famous for its most artistic and expensive ornamental fabric. Moslin, a fine and artistic type of cloth was well-known worldwide. Naksi Kantha, embroidered quilted patchwork cloth produced by the village women, is still familiar in villages and towns simultaneously. A common hairstyle is Beni (twisted bun) that Bangalee women are fond of. Traditionally males wear Panjabis, Fatuas and Pajamas. Hindus wear Dhuty for religious purposes. Now-a-days common dresses of males are shirts and pants. Bangladeshi people have unique dress preferences. Bangladeshi men wear panjabi on religious and cultural occasions, lungi as casual wear and shirt-pant on formal occasions. Shari is the main dress of Bangladeshi women. Sari weaving is a traditional art in Bangladesh. Shalwar Kamij is quite popular, especially among younger women. Some women in urban areas also wear pants, skirts and tops.
Bangladesh- Cuisine Panta Ilish - a traditional platter of Panta bhat with fried Hilsa slice, supplemented with dried fish (Shutki), pickles (Achar), dal, green chillies and onion - is a popular serving for the Pohela Boishakh festival. Bangladesh is famous for its distinctive culinary tradition, and delicious food, snacks and savories. Boiled rice constitutes the staple food, and is served with a variety of vegetables, fried as well as curries, thick lentil soups, and fish and meat preparations of mutton and chicken, and more rarely pork and beef by certain groups. Sweetmeats of Bangladesh are mostly milk based, and consist of several delights including Roshgulla, Sandesh, Rasamalai, Gulap Jamun, Kalo Jamun, Chom Chom. Several other sweet preparations are also available. Bengali cuisine is rich and varied with the use of many specialized spices and flavours. Fish is the dominant source of protein, cultivated in ponds and fished with nets in the fresh-water rivers of the Ganges delta. More than forty types of mostly freshwater fish are common, including carp varieties like rui (rohu), katla, magur (catfish), chingŗi (prawn or shrimp), as well as shuţki (dried sea fish). Salt water fish (not sea fish though) Ilish (hilsa ilisha) is very popular among Bengalis, can be called an icon of Bengali cuisine.
2. Bhutan- Location Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the Peoples Republic of China . Bhutan is separated from the nearby country of Nepal to the west by the Indian state of Sikkim, and from Bangladesh to the south by West Bengal
Bhutan- Festivals Once a year a dzong or important village may hold a religious festival, or Tsechu. Villagers from the surrounding district come for several days of religious observances and socializing while contributing auspicious offerings to the lama or monastery of the festival. The central activity is a fixed set of religious mask dances, or cham, held in a large courtyard. Each individual dance takes up to several hours to complete and the entire set may last two to four days. Observation of the dances directly blesses the audience and also serves to transmit principles of Tantric Buddhism to the villagers. A number of the dances can be traced directly back to Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal himself, the founder of Bhutan, and have been passed down essentially unchanged since the mid-17th century. Prior to dawn on the final day of the tsechu a huge tapestry, or thongdrel, is unfurled in the courtyard of the dzong for several hours. The mere sight of it is believed to bring spiritual liberation. The thongdrel is rolled up before the rays of the morning sun can strike it.
Bhutan- Dress All Bhutanese citizens are required to observe the national dress code, known as Driglam Namzha, while in public during daylight hours. The rule is enforced more rigorously in some districts (dzongkhag) than others. Men wear a heavy knee-length robe tied with a belt, called a gho, folded in such a way to form a pocket in front of the stomach. Women wear colourful blouses over which they fold and clasp a large rectangular cloth called a kira, thereby creating an ankle-length dress. A short silk jacket, or toego may be worn over the kira. Everyday gho and kira are cotton or wool, according to the season, patterned in simple checks and stripes in earth tones. For special occasions and festivals, colourfully patterned silk kira and, more rarely, gho may be worn. Additional rules of protocol apply when visiting a dzong or a temple, or when appearing before a high-level official. Male commoners wear a white sash (kabney) from left shoulder to opposite hip. Local and regional elected officials, government ministers, cabinet members, and the King himself each wear their own colored kabney. Women wear a narrow embroidered cloth draped over the left shoulder, a rachu.
Bhutan- Cuisine The staple foods of Bhutan are red rice (like brown rice in texture, but with a nutty taste, the only variety of rice that grows in high altitudes), buckwheat, and increasingly maize. The diet in the hills also includes chicken, yak meat, beef, pork, pork fat and mutton. Soups and stews of meat, rice, ferns, lentils, and dried vegetables spiced with chillies and cheese are a favourite meal during the cold seasons. Zow shungo is a rice dish mixed with leftover vegetables. Ema datshi, made very spicy with cheese and chillies, akin to chili con queso, might be called the national dish for its ubiquity and the pride that Bhutanese have for it. Other foods include jasha maru, a chicken dish; phaksha paa and fried rice. Dairy foods, particularly butter and cheese from yaks and cows, are also popular, and indeed almost all milk is turned into butter and cheese. Popular beverages include: butter tea, black tea, locally brewed ara (rice wine ), and beer. Spices include: curry, cardamom, ginger, chillies, garlic, turmeric, and caraway. When offered food, one says meshu meshu, covering ones mouth with the hands in refusal according to Bhutanese manners, and then gives in on the second or third offer.
3. India- Location India is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world. Home to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. Four of the worlds major religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism—originated here, whereas Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam arrived in the 1st millennium CE and also helped shape the regions diverse culture. Gradually annexed by the British East India Company from the early 18th century and colonized by the United Kingdom from the mid-19th century, India became an independent nation in 1947 after a struggle for independence which was marked by non-violent resistance led by Mahatma Gandhi.
India-Places of Interest A Glimpse into Northern India Golden Triangle Tours Grand Tours Of India India Deluxe Trips India Royal Tours Indian Mixture Majestic Palaces Rajasthan in Colour Rustic Rajasthan Majestic Himalayas Tiger Safari Tours Wildlife in The Rajasthan Cultural Tours of india Best Of South India Cultural Tours of South India Essential India Cochin Tours Gandhis Gujarat & Navratri Pilgrimage Cultural Tours Eastern India
India- Festivals India, being a multi-cultural and multi-religious society, celebrates holidays and festivals of various religions. The four national holidays in India, the Independence Day, the Republic Day, the Gandhi Jayanti,and 1st may are celebrated with zeal and enthusiasm across India. In addition, many states and regions have local festivals depending on prevalent religious and linguistic demographics. Popular religious festivals include the Hindu festivals of Navratri, Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga puja, Holi, Rakshabandhan and Dussehra. Several harvest festivals, such as Sankranthi, Pongal and Onam,"Nuakhai" are also fairly popular. Certain festivals in India are celebrated by multiple religions. Notable examples include Diwali, which is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, and Buddh Purnima, celebrated by Buddhists and Hindus. Islamic festivals, such Eid ul-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and Ramadan, are celebrated by Muslims across India. Sikh Festivals, such as Guru Nanak Jayanti, Baisakhi are celebrated with full fanfare by Sikhs and Hindu. Adding colors to the culture of India, the Dree Festival is one of the tribal festivals of India celebrated by the Apatanis of the Ziro valley of Arunachal Pradesh, which is the easternmost state of India.
India- Dress Traditional clothing in India greatly varies across different parts of the country and is influenced immensely by local culture, geography and climate. Popular styles of dress include draped garments such as sari for women and dhoti or lungi for men; in addition, stitched clothes such as churidar for women and kurta-pyjama and European-style trousers and shirts for men, are also popular. In India, a persons social status is perceived to be symbolized by his or her attire. Indian dress etiquette discourages exposure of skin and wearing transparent or tight clothes. Most Indian clothes are made from cotton which is ideal for the regions hot weather. Since Indias weather is mostly hot and rainy, majority of Indians wear sandals. Worn by women on their forehead, the bindi is considered to be a highly auspicious mark in Hindu religion. Traditionally, the red bindi (or sindoor) was worn only by the married Hindu women, but now it has become a part of womens fashion. Some Indian traditions consider the bindi to be representative of the third eye.
India- Cuisine The cuisine in India is classified into three major categories. Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. Satva which stand for balance, Rajas stands for passion, and Tamas stands for indulgence. Food is consumed according to the lifestyle of the person. For example: A King has to be aggressive to defend his country, he would be taking food which would give much passion and that aggressiveness which is required. When a person tries to lead his life in want of self realisaiton, he would prefer a Satvic food or known as Sattvic diet, which would help to keep his mind in balance. Tamasic food or known as Static foods is to be taken only if its required, like consumption of Alcohol. This is the reason why in many Indians try to abstain drinking. The multiple varieties of Indian cuisine are characterized by their sophisticated and subtle use of many Spices and Herbs. Each family of this cuisine is characterized by a wide assortment of dishes and cooking techniques. Though a significant portion of Indian food is vegetarian, many traditional Indian dishes also include: chicken, goat, lamb, fish, and other meats. India is known for its love for food and spices, and it plays a role in everyday life as well as in festivals. Indian cuisine varies from region to region, reflecting the varied demographics of the country. Generally, Indian cuisine can be split into 5 categories — northern, southern , eastern, western and north-eastern. Despite this diversity, some unifying threads emerge. Varied uses of spices are an integral part of food preparation, and are used to enhance the flavor of a dish and create unique flavors and aromas. Cuisine across India has also been influenced by various cultural groups that entered India throughout history, such as the Persians, Mughals, and European colonists. Though the tandoor originated in Central Asia, Indian tandoori dishes, such as chicken tikka made with Indian ingredients, enjoy widespread popularity.
4. Nepal- Location Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the Peoples Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India. Kathmandu is the nations capital and the countrys largest metropolis. Nepal has a rich geography. The mountainous north has eight of the worlds ten tallest mountains, including the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest, called Sagarmatha in Nepali. It contains more than 240 peaks over 20,000 ft (6,096 m) above sea level. The fertile and humid south is heavily urbanized. By some measures, Hinduism is practised by a larger majority of people in Nepal than in any other nation. Buddhism, though a minority faith in the country, is linked historically with Nepal. Many Nepali do not distinguish between Hinduism and Buddhism and follow both religious traditions. There are 3 different buddhist traditions: Himalayan Buddhism, Buddhism of Kathmandu Valley (mostly Mahayana and Vajrayana), and also the Theravada Buddhism.
Nepal-Places of Interest Kathmandu Patan Pokhran Bhaktapur Kathmandu Kathmandu Durbar Square Taleju temple Jagannath temple Kal Bhairav Temple: King Pratap Malla Statue: Kumari Ghar Kasthamandap Temple Syambhunath Temple Lumbini Janakpur Chitwan Royal Bardia National Park Tansen Gorkha Annapurna Region Everest Region Langtang
Nepal- Festivals Several of the festivals of Nepal last from one day to several days. Dashain is the longest and the most important festival of Nepal. Generally Dashain falls in late September to mid October, right after the end of the monsoon season in Nepal. It is "a day of Victory over Demons". Tihar is another important festival of Nepal. Other important festivals include Buddha Jayanti (the celebration of the birth of Buddha); Maha Shivaratri, a festival of Lord Shiva, and during Maha Shivaratri festivities, some people consume excessive drinks and smoke charas. Sherpas, mostly located at higher altitudes and in the Everest region, celebrate Mani Rimdu, for the good of the world. Most festivals include dancing and music and eating all kinds of local delicacies. A variety of foods is consumed during festivals and on special occasions. If one has to taste Nepali food, Newa cuisine is a must have; a festive meal, like one served during a marriage, is a real treat, and include vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes.
Nepal- Dress Mens Clothing: Daura-Suruwal, typically termed as Labeda-Suruwal is the traditional Nepali dress. The dress has several religious beliefs identifying its designs and has therefore remained the same from the years. The Daura has eight strings that serves to tie itself up around the body. Eight is the lucky number in Nepali mythology. Also, the Daura has five pleats or Kallis, signifying Pancha Buddha or Pancha Ratna. And the closed neck of the Daura signifies the snake around the Lord Shivas neck. Womens Clothing: The Nepali dress for women is a cotton sari (Guniu), a cloth garment worn with a blouse. Women in Nepal wear a sari-like garment called a guniu. The guniu can be woven from cottons or silk fabrics. In Nepal, the sari is commonly draped around the waist and worn with a separate shawl like garment on the upper body. This style of draping is called Haku patasi. Sherpa Dress:Traditional Sherpa dress consists of a knee-length robe woven of yak wool. This garment is similar for both men and women and is worn with yak wool pants. Boots made of yak hide and stuffed with dried grass for warmth were traditional. Today, many Sherpas have opted for Western dress, including cowboy hats and boots.
Nepal- Cuisine A typical Nepalese meal is dal-bhat-tarkari. Dal is a spicy lentil soup, served over bhat (boiled rice), served with tarkari (curried vegetables) together with achar (pickles) or chutni (spicy condiment made from fresh ingredients). The Newar community, however, has its own unique cuisine. It consists of non-vegetarian as well as vegetarian items served with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Mustard oil is the cooking medium and a host of spices, such as cumin, coriander, black peppers, sesame seeds, turmeric, garlic, ginger, methi (fenugreek), bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, chillies, mustard seeds, etc., are used in the cooking. The cuisine served on festivals is generally the best. The food of Nepal is as diverse as the country itself. The Nepalese recipes are quick to cook and good to eat. Nepalese food is famous for its nutrition level and tempting taste. Whilst Nepalese cuisine is somewhat basic, it certainly does not lack in flavor, making extensive use of spices and flavorings such as ginger, garlic, coriander, pepper, cumin, chilies, cilantro, mustard oil, ghee and occasionally yak butter. Come let us savour some of the famous dishes of Nepal. Famous Nepalese Cuisine Gundrook- Dheedo is a sugar-free dish made of wheat, maize and dried green vegetable. Alu Tama means Potato Bamboo Shoots. It is a unique and classic Nepali curry flavor dish. Vegetable Pulao (Fried Nepali Rice) is popular ways rice is served during the parties and events. Masu is spiced or curried meat (usually chicken, mutton, buffalo or pork) with gravy. Served with rice, it is a main course dish, very popular in Nepal. Vegetable Thukpa (Egg Noodles) Tibetan Vegetable Thukpa is one of the main food. During Tibetan new year celebration Losarthe dish is a part of celebration and tradition for the Nepalese. Chatamari regarded as Newari pizza, Chatamari is a flat bread.