And for a Friday in Mumbai and a memorable event in SAARC, some thoughts….. some musings…..
As former head of South Asia in the MNC that I had worked in, I have very fond and loving memories of my visits to the major SAARC cities – Dacca, Colombo, Karachi, Lahore, Kathmandu and Thimpu. My colleagues and citizens of each of these countries had showered so much of love and affection, I was naturally thrilled that on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Bangladesh, our PM visited Dacca to bestow the Gandhi Peace prize on Bangabandu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, the Father of Bangladesh posthumously. With more than 21% of the World population, the SAARC countries (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) have tremendous potential to support each other, maximise the synergies of the region and ensure that no citizen in any of these countries lives in poverty and depravation. Imagine Germany and France were sworn Enemies in World War and yet today all of Europe is one Union with one currency and every nation has its own identity and independence. The citizens have freedom to move across and access a much larger economic market.
Setting up a joint venture in Dacca with my friend Nobel Laureate, Dr. Mohamad Yunus to prevent infant mortality thru vector control was such a learning experience for me. I can never forget the cooperation and support from my colleagues in Bangladesh. Similarly, whenever my wife and me visited Karachi or Lahore, there was so much of warmth and affection from everybody we came across. My wife went shopping and in some shops they even refused to take money, offering the items as gifts. Colombo is an extension of Kerala, only more hospitable and without the Communists. Kathmandu is almost an open door neighbour at a different level. As they say in Hindi रोटी बेटी का रिश्ता. SAARC is an idea whose time has come. We all must endeavour to find the small measures, the baby steps to move away from confrontation to togetherness. I hope and pray that the India made COVID vaccines are made available to all in SAARC. We see new perspectives and in the Post COVID world, new and exciting opportunities open up for all our SAARC citizens.
COVID has not shown any signs of abatement yet. Somewhere in second wave and somewhere in third wave. Let’s us continue our vigil. Let us support each other, the SAARC spirited way, the caring way, the SEEGOS way.