1. Economic Development and Poverty Alleviation through Inclusive development.
This is a subject that has been extensively dealt with by scholars of the region and beyond. We have selected the aspect of ‘Inclusive Development’ as our focus area. Although most countries in South Asia are experiencing satisfactory economic growth, it is evident that a large number of people are marginalized and are not included in the process sharing the benefits of development in the economic, social and political spheres.
SAPRI will undertake research with a view to identifying the links between marginalization, exclusion of some groups and the rise of violent political movements and conflict
(a) In this context our first major regional conference dealt with the subject ‘Delivering Inclusive and Sustainable Development’ in 2012 held in New Delhi. The conclusions of the conference will be taken forward through research, dissemination via the media and regional workshops. SAPRI will also engage in advocacy among political leaders and the nongovernmental sector.
(b) A Seminar and a Roundtable Discussion were held on “Making Sustainability the Next Metric: The Post 2015 Development Agenda” in Colombo in October 2013 in partnership with CEPA to ensure that voice of South Asia is heard when formulating Post 2015 agenda in the UN.
2. CONFLICT PREVENTION AND PEACE BUILDING
(a) Conflict Prevention
The objectives of conflict prevention are as follows:
• Identify Potential Conflicts
• Identify Root Causes of Conflicts
• Develop Indices for Early Identification of Conflicts
• Preventive Strategies
There are growing signs and acts of religious intolerance that are occurring increasingly in South Asia. Such phenomena pose a threat to peaceful co-existence among the communities that compose our multi-cultural and pluralistic societies; it poses a challenge to economic progress and inclusivity; undermines social cohesion and political stability while creating a negative image globally.
SAPRI has, therefore to address the objectives of the theme conflict prevention regarding this growing issue, formed a study of these phenomena and propose measures on religious tolerance through an inter-faith and multi-disciplinary dialogue.
(B) Economic Development of affected areas
• A project was completed supplying electricity through solar power to 100 households in two phases between 2010 and 2011 to displaced families in the northern district are returning to their former villages.
• The Project on domestic water through ran water harvesting was launched in Ranchamadama, Embilipitiya to provide clean water for drinking and household use to57 families.
(C) Socio Political Empowerment of Marginalized Groups
(D) Transitional Security in Post Conflict Situations
(E) Building Inclusive / Shared Societies
Religious Harmony Project was commenced in June 2013
(F) Peace Building
(G) Learning from Best Practices in Transition from Conflict to Post Conflict Societies.
There were two seminars organized by SAPRI to achieve the above objective.
• The seminar on the theme ”Development Prospects for middle-income Sri Lanka: Opportunities and Challenges” and held at the BMICH, Colombo in July 2013. Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, SAPRI Board member and former Director of the Economic Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat delivered a lecture on “Prospects for Middle Income Sri Lanka: Challenges & Opportunities” in that seminar.
• A colloquium on “Challenges to Pluralism in South Asia” was conducted by SAPRI in January 2014 with the participation of eminent scholars from South Asia and beyond, at the BMICH in Colombo. At the colloquium the four member panel of scholars of international fame comprising Prof. Rajeev Bhargava (India), Prof. Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka), Dr. Christophe Jaffrelot (France) and Asma Jahangir from Pakistan addressed the issues of religious tolerance, peaceful coexistence, secularism and pluralism in South Asia.
3. REGIONAL ECONOMIC COOPERATION
• Trade in Goods and Services – Taking SAFTA forwards
• Technology Cooperation and regional projects
A Seminar and a Roundtable Discussion were held on “Making Sustainability the Next Metric: The Post 2015 Development Agenda” in Colombo in October 2013 in partnership with CEPA to ensure that voice of South Asia is heard when formulating Post 2015 agenda in the UN.
• Regional Projects
• Intra regional Investment
4. SOUTH ASIA IN GLOBAL POLITICS
• Regional Political Cooperation
• The Indian Ocean
A research paper on “South Asian Perception’s of Rising China’s Role” by Prof.S.D.Muni was published in ALOKA I : Occasional papers, Volume 1 in 2012.
5. WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
• Best Practices in Political, Economic and Social Empowerment of Women.
SAPRI in collaboration with International Alert Sri Lanka, conducted a workshop in November 2013 titled “Women and Politics in Sri Lanka: Challenges to Meaningful Participation”. The event focused on discussing and understanding the current context of women and politics in Sri Lanka. Among those present were officials, civil society representatives, women, youth and other experts.
6. GOOD GOVERNANCE
• Democratic governance – systems and forms of participation / Effective Management of Government
• Right to information
• Guaranteeing Fundamental Rights
• Successful Models of State / Community Efforts at Curbing Corruption and ▪Enhancing Transparency and accountability
A special project on Good Governance is under preparation. It will include a South Asia wide survey on selected aspects of governance with and best practice policy recommendations, key lessons and best practices
7. CULTURAL HERITAGE
1. Traditional Knowledge Systems
Research Paper on”Biodiversity linked Knowledge Systems, Land Use Dynamics and the Emerging Sustainability Paradigm” by Prof. P.S. Ramakrishnan
2. Classification of Historic Monuments
Research Paper on”Classification of Historic Monuments” by Dr.B.M. Pande
3. Historical Memory
Research Paper on”Monuments, Memory and Mobility in South Asia“by Prof.Himanshu Praba Ray
Proposed Projects for 2015 -2017
South Asia Governance Project
After several decades of poor economic performance in the post-Independence era, South Asia has experienced rapid growth over the last 20 years. This has been accompanied by impressive social gains. Despite these advances, South Asia has experienced deterioration in the quality of governance. This is reflected in outcomes such as poor quality public services; lack of access for the poor to social services and the rule of law; and high and pervasive levels of corruption with increased state capture by political vested interests. These outcomes reflect a failure to build strong systems of accountability and transparency.
The governance agenda for South Asia is enormous. SAPRI intends to be highly selective in developing its work programme for Good Governance.
There will be two major components to its work programme.
1. South Asia Governance Survey
SAPRI proposes to undertake a governance survey of the South Asia region initially covering India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The principal objectives of the Survey would be:-
– to create awareness among policy makers and civil society on the state of governance in the region.
– to inform SAPRI’s governance work by identifying the strengths and weaknesses, as well as the factors that drive public accountability and transparency in each selected country
– to support high level advocacy by SAPRI’s Chair and other members of the Board and Advisory Committees.
– to develop capacity in national policy institutions to conduct and analyse governance related surveys and disseminate the outcomes.
– to develop a South Asia policy research community that works on the regions governance challenges.
The Survey will comprehensively cover the major areas related to : Governance such as the elected bodies – Parliament, Provincial Associates, local government bodies ; the Executive including the public service ; the Justice Sector ; the intermediation of power ; political parties ; civil society organizations that mediate public accountability and the media.
2. Making Services Work for the Poor: South Asia’s Unfinished Agenda
South Asia continues to suffer from poor outcomes in education, health and infrastructure. While progress has been made in terms of first generation outcomes in enrollment, literacy and child and maternal mortality, systems are currently ill-suited to tackle the second-generation challenges relating to quality, learning, skill formation and non-communicable diseases. Monitoring of provider incentives and politics become much more important in achieving the latter objectives. Services for the poor can be improved by empowering them to monitor and discipline service providers and raise their voice in policy-making.
While collective action can strengthen service delivery, it is also now increasingly apparent that political drivers of accountability are fundamental for improved outcomes. Better community compacts and client power based on improved information are undoubtedly important. However, political failures dull the edge of collective action and the impact of better information.
Different countries and sectors require different relationships to be strengthened. Hence, a constellation of solutions is necessary, each matching a particular set of political and social conditions. However, better monitoring and evaluation assists in learning what works, where and why. This means that while one size does not fit all, there is considerable scope for piloting and learning. SAPRI’s work in this area would seek to differentiate itself from the activities of the many research institutes focusing on these issues in South Asia. It will focus on initiatives that improve accountability in service delivery; undertake rigorous evaluation of these initiatives (where it has not already been done); and then disseminate these ideas to both policy-makers and community organizations. The initiatives to be studied could include: citizen report cards; performance-based bonuses to service providers; community managed schools; and information campaigns. It is proposed that the initial focus should be on the education sector. A concept paper and funding proposal are being developed around these themes.