A SAARC Anthem

Fostering regional consciousness needs mammoth efforts. South Asia has a formal mechanism of cooperation in place among its member countries through the vibrant organization of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). I visited foreign ministries and Foreign Service institutes of South Asian countries in 2004-2005. Those days the idea of deeper interaction among the South Asians always brought back memories of my days spent in Jawaharlal Nehru and Delhi Universities. I cherished the company of students from the South Asian countries who enriched my academic life in many ways.

The visit gave me the opportunity to meet young Bangladeshi, Nepali and Sri Lankan officer-trainees. During our meetings we felt that it would be a great learning experience for the young officer-trainees of the SAARC countries if we could spend a week or so together and share our ideas and aspirations with each other.

After my visit to Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, I wrote a paper titled ‘South Asian Affairs’ proposing a South Asian University in 2005, I was glad to see that the establishment the new South Asian University was announced later that year in Dhaka at the 13th SAARC Summit, though it may not have been possibly because of my paper. The South Asian University is functioning since 2010 at Akbar Bhawan, New Delhi paving the path for a new South Asia.

After the milestone achievement in the history of SAARC with the establishment of the South Asian University, I believe a SAARC anthem, a song that all South Asians could sing together, can act as a catalyst in fostering deeper South Asian consciousness and fraternity. I am now ready with a SAARC anthem after a warm and enthusiastic reception of the Earth Anthem internationally which I wrote and produced recently.

Regional and international anthems have been in use since quite some time now. Some of the other prominent regional organizations have their own anthems. For example the European Union uses ‘Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (Ode to Joy part)’ as its anthem while the African Union has adopted its own anthem titled ‘Let’s All Unite and Celebrate Together’. The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has adopted an official anthem titled ‘ASEAN Way’ in 2008 which is in English. As per ASEAN, its anthem is an expression of ASEAN unity and strengthens the sense of ASEAN identity and belonging among the peoples of the region.

Being aware of the huge popularity of Bollywood films in South Asia, I have written an anthem for SAARC in a mix of nine languages spoken and understood in the South Asian countries-

SAARC Anthem – Multilingual (9 Languages)

Himalaya theke Hinda Sagor, Naga Hills theke Hindukush (Bangla)

Mahaweli inn Ganga, Sindhu inn Brahmputra (Dhivehi)

Lakshadweep, Andaman, Everest, Adam’s Peak (English)

Kabul Lay Thimphu Tsuen, Male Lay Kathmandu (Dzongkha)

Dilli sita Dhaka, Colombin, Islamabad (Sinhala)

Harek paila saath-saath, Harek paila saath-saath (Nepali)

Dzongkha, Hindi, Nepali,Bangla, Pashto, Sinhala (Pashto)

Urdu, English, Dhivehi, Har kadam saath-saath, Har kadam saath-saath

Apni-apni pehchan, apne-apne arman (Urdu)

Shanti ki baat-baat, Har kadam saath-saath (Hindi)

Har kadam SAARC saath, Har kadam saath-SAARC

Har kadam SAARC saath, Har kadam saath-SAARC.

Naga and Chin hills mark the eastern frontiers of SAARC member states. Mahaweli is the longest river of Sri Lanka while Adam’s Peak is its most venerated peak. Sri Lanka has two official languages — Sinhala and Tamil like Afghanistan which also has two official languages –Pashto and Dari. I have chosen the language of their national anthems. Dhivehi is the official language of Maldives.

This is to inspire the SAARC Secretariat to launch a competition in all SAARC Member countries and declare the best judged entry as the official SAARC anthem. Once adopted, the official SAARC anthem could be encouraged at the formal meetings of SAARC as well as SAARC apex and recognized bodies. It could also be played to commemorate special occasions of SAARC such as the SAARC Charter Day (8 December).

SAARC member countries could be encouraged to produce the official SAARC anthem into local languages as a way to promote the anthem and foster South Asian consciousness and fraternity among their citizens

SAARC Anthem Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOTKEX87gYA

*First appeared in The Sunday Times, Sri Lanka in 2013