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the-south-asian.com                         7  August   2000

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Akhil Bakshi elaborates: "We  want the people of South Asia to realise the significance  of this common mission: the urgency to lift our masses out of poverty, ignorance and despair. Throughout  South Asia, a subcontinent rich in resources  and  in the  spiritual and cultural achievements of its people,  millions of men and women suffer the daily degradations of poverty and hunger.

500 million South Asians live in absolute poverty.

230 million South Asians lack protection from disease.

620 million have no access to safe drinking water.

800 million lack decent sanitation

50% of the world's illiterates are in South Asia.

90% of the world's blind are in South Asia.

And each day the problems grow more urgent.

If we are to meet a problem so staggering in its dimensions,  our approach  must itself be equally bold. The Expedition's  approach was  outlined in the concept of "Together Towards Tomorrow"  -  a vast cooperative effort unparalleled in magnitude and nobility of purpose,  to  satisfy the basic needs of South Asian  for  homes, work, health and schools.

One  of  the points mentioned in the charter  was  "reduction  of defence spending".

One battle tank costs $ 4 million - enough to vaccinate 4 million children.

One Mirage 2000 costs $ 90 million - enough to educate 3  million children in primary schools.

One  submarine  costs  $ 300 million - enough  to  provide  clean drinking water to 60 million people.

If  our effort is  bold  enough  and determined enough, then the close of this millennium will mark the beginning  of a new era in the South Asian experience. The  living standards of every South Asian family will be on the rise,  basic education  will be available to all, hunger will be  a  forgotten experience,  the  need for foreign aid will have  passed,  -  and though  there will still be much to do - all South Asian  nations would have entered a period of self-sustaining growth."

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