The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established on 8, December, 1985 by seven countries of Asia. It is dedicated to economic, technological, social, and cultural development emphasizing collective self-reliance. The concept of SAARC was first adopted by Bangladesh during 1977, under the administration of President Ziaur Rahman.

SAARC is an economic organization of eight countries of southern Asia. Its seven founding members  are India, Bangladesh, Bhutan,  Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. In April, 2007, Afghanistan has become its 8th member. SAARC is an initiative towards determination of the people of South Asia to work together towards finding solutions to the common problems by forming a base of mutual respect, equity and share benefits.

SAARC headquarter located in Kathmandu, Nepal. The main purpose of association is to increase the progress of economic and social development in member countries through joint action in the agreed areas of corporation. SAARC 11 stated areas of corporations are: agriculture, rural development, transportation -telecommunications, meteorology, health - population control, postal services, science -technology, culture - sports, women in development, drug trafficking- abuse, and terrorism.

The objectives of the SAARC association are as follows:

  • 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  another’s 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 matter of  common matters
  • To cooperate with international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes.

India is an important member of the SAARC group. Being the dominant member of the bloc, India can't just remain as a member of SAARC association; rather it should look for more avenues to ensure that it creates greater opportunities for its export-import community to carry out trade.

India plays an important role to take initiative steps to ensure that the other nations come forward and go beyond the rhetoric ground to put up more efforts to make association more meaningful and successful.

SAARC was formed to integrate regional economies to increase trade and improve living standards. The South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) was designed in 2004, with a motive to enhance the intra regional trade and economic cooperation in south Asia. Under this agreement, SAARC members will reduce their customs tariffs to 20 per cent and they pledged to allow trade in more goods to ensure trade and investment flows, integration of infrastructure and to encourage people to people contacts.

Under SAFTA agreement, nations not only benefitted from their free-trade pact but also get positive outcome from an agreed decision to slash the number of the items on the sensitive list of commodities that are banned from trading. With the free trade arrangement, a fresh strength has been injected into this regional body.

SAFTA is still at its budding stage as its only 5percent of trade volume which is very less as compare to Intra-European Union Commerce that comprises about 55 percent of trade volume.  It stills a long way to go and India has to show them the way. Regional trade assumes greater importance for a country like India which is one of South Asia’s biggest economies, in both population and economy wise.  For India, it has proved as a good platform where efforts are made to increase its trade with its neighboring countries, especially with   Pakistan under SAFTA agreement.

On regular bases association SAARC has conducted meetings of heads of state which are usually scheduled annually; meetings of foreign secretaries that are scheduled twice a year.  This year Maldives will host its 17th summit, to be held on 10-11 November at Addu Atoll.  17th summit theme is “Building Bridges”, will be focused on both terms of physical connectivity and figurative political dialogues. 

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