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South Asian Memories
the-south-asian.com 7 August 2000
Page 2 of 3
HANDS ACROSS THE BORDERS
(AN EXPEDITION OF HOPE AND CONFIDENCE)
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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