Rejuvenating SAARC: The Strategic Payoffs for India
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, SAARC, founded in 1985, has floundered since its inception due to the lack of a strong political will. This article evaluates the political-economic and strategic benefits of deeper integration in South Asia from the Indian perspective. The abysmally low level of integration witnessed so far in the region has been driven by a myriad of constraints that restrict economic interaction among the South Asian countries. Gains from regional integration can emerge only after these constraints are effectively addressed. The central argument of the article is that recent global developments and increasing openness of SAARC economies are moving the principal drivers of this process towards a more supportive stance for SAARC and this creates a new window of opportunity. This opportunity must be seized by India as it has taken on the chairmanship of the organization, because a successful SAARC directly contributes to India's strategic objectives both in the region and also globally. In this context the article discusses ten reasons for India to rejuvenate integration efforts and revive regional cooperation in South Asia.
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