SAARC countries urged to collectively work for poverty eradication | Pakistan Today

SAARC countries urged to collectively work for poverty eradication

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries should collectively endeavour to find the solutions of the common problems of the region such as poverty, deprivations and imbalances in development, Indian Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said on Monday.
Addressing the sixth conference of the Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians, titled Meaningful Participatory Democracy in South Asia Parliaments Affirmative Action, she said SAARC consisted of 22 percent of the world’s population while over 40 percent of the world’s poor people lived in SAARC countries.
She said the active democracy thrived on the active participation of its citizenry. “A democratic state relies on the mandate of its people. It is the will of the masses from which legislatures derive their legitimacy. Such participation is the bedrock of constitutional governments.”
She said it was important to educate and motivate citizens to participate in governance, build up appropriate institutional structure to empower the underprivileged and weaker sections of the societies. The Indian constitution guaranteed rights to Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes by way of reserved seats in legislatures and quotas in government jobs and educational institutions, she said, adding that the government was striving towards creating an atmosphere where trade and industry come forward to provide training for jobs for the socially backward groups.
“Indian parliament has enacted a number of legislation which ensured citizens participation in governance. The 73rd and 74th amendments to the constitution are landmarks that institutionalized grassroots governance both in planning and execution of development programmes under local jurisdiction,” she said. She said India had over three million representatives of which one third were women, adding that Indian parliament had enhanced youth participation in the democratic process by enacting the 61st constitutional amendment in 1989 that lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 years. “Over 30 million persons were enfranchised and this proved to be a path-breaking step,” she said.
Meira said Lok-Sabha and Rajjya Sabha had instituted their independent TV channels thus ensuring extensive coverage of the proceedings of both Houses. “A children corner has also been set up in the Parliament Library to provide an early grounding in parliamentary democracy to citizens of tomorrow,” she added.
Speaker of the Peoples Majlis Republic of Maldives Abdulla Shahid said mere holding of elections at regular intervals was not enough to determine who amongst us should holds the reins of power.
“The citizens should have equal opportunities… they should be able to contribute for upholding democratic system that both promote their interests. The parliamentarians are duty bound to raise voice to the unrepresented and the under represented members of the society. Education is the only way through which the anomalies of the societies could be alleviated,” he said.
Speaker of the National Assembly of Bhutan, JigMay Tsul-Tim said democracy in Bhutan was nascent and going through an evolutionary process. Such interactions would help strengthen the foundations of the democracy, he added.
Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Sri Lanka Chandrika Weerak Ko-Day said Sri Lanka had overcome the menace of terrorism three years ago. “SAARC countries should jointly fight poverty and other common issues confronting them.”

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