Rotary Goodwill Meet May be held in March 2011
Kalyan Banerjee, R. I. president-elect (L), speaks at discussion ‘Initiative towards promoting peace in South Asia’ held in Chennai.
A Rotary South Asia Conference for Development and Co-operation may be held in March 2011 in Colombo, Chennai or New Delhi, following a suggestion to the effect by a group of senior Rotary International office-bearers, led by president-elect Kalyan Banerjee. 1,000-1,200 delegates from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal are expected to attend the conference, which will be in the form of a revival of the successful Goodwill Conferences held by Rotary in earlier years, the representatives said.
At the two-day discussion on peace in South Asia, held in Chennai on Thursday and Friday, representatives from the five south Asian countries said there was a felt need for integration in the region along the lines of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the Eurozone. As an immediate step, Rotary International would write to the Pakistan government to see if a medical mission could be allowed into the flood-hit areas to support the people.
Mr. Banerjee said Rotary could contribute to increased people-to-people contacts and work on initiatives in the fields of health, education, sports, science and culture. While there were many agencies that were working towards this end, Rotary, because it involved people belonging to different strata of society, could contribute a lot, he said.
The former president, Rajendra K. Saboo, said
the Goodwill conference held by Rotary in the early 1980s had foreshadowed
the Declaration on South Asian Regional Cooperation, which had resulted
in the formation of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
(SAARC). The political situation made some interactions difficult,
but it was important to work together to remove the boundaries,
Though there was no strict one-one relationship
between deprivation and extremism, it was important for policymakers
to address these concerns of the people, he said. Taking the case
of the India-Pakistan relationship, he said constant engagement
The organisation would also contact scientists,
such as M.S. Swaminathan, to come up with joint action plans on
agriculture and have tie-ups with chambers of commerce like Federation
of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to promote trade