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For Aspiring Economists: Lessons in Regional Cooperation, and Friendship Building

February 22, 2017


Students from Nepal preparing for the cultural show at the 13th South Asia Economics Students' Meet held in Kathmandu, Nepal     


The 13th South Asia Economic Students’ Meet (SAESM) played a pivotal role in young economists believing in the concept of One South Asia

The 13th South Asia Economic Students’ Meet (SAESM) was much more than a simple get together of to-be economists and financial experts – it was a space to interact, network, and envision a future together. The 13th SAESM had students of economics from seven countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. In a matter of five days, brilliant and enterprising youths came together to build lasting friendships which will reap huge benefits in the future.

From 29th January to 2nd February, budding economists imbibed the spirit of #OneSouthAsia and strove to understand the concept of rising towards prosperity together. The effort to share each other’s research, explain new findings and learning, better understand neighboring countries, and create friendships was commendable, and also led participants to look for better ways to ease trade and harmony in the entire region.

Launching the event, Hon. Vice President of Nepal, Nanda Bahadur Pun, said, “South Asia is a region where each country has its unique resources that need to be identified and utilized.” He expressed his belief that countries in the region could achieve equitable and sustainable growth and prosperity through a unified presence. “SAESM is one such opportunity for young economic students to share ideas and knowledge for regional betterment.”


Students at the opening session of SAESM

Photo Credit: Gayatri Sharma/World Bank

" South Asia is a region where each country has its unique resources that need to be identified and utilized. "

Nanda Bahadur Pun

Hon. Vice President of Nepal


Nepali students prepare for the cultural show.

This resonated with the views of Francisco Marmolejo, World Bank's Lead Tertiary Education Specialist, who opined, “Future is not about what we can extrapolate. It is about what we will build; it is defined by what we do for tomorrow.” At the ice-breaker held before the formal sessions kicked off, he cautioned all present, “Are students really learning the right set of skills for tomorrow?”

Equally concerned about regional networking and collaboration was Martin Rama, Chief Economist for South Asia Region of the World Bank. He chose to share his thoughts on water – describing it as one great connector. “River basins typically expand over multiple government jurisdiction, provinces in a country or states, or in the case of South Asia, different states. This creates challenges in pricing, coordination and policies.” Through his keynote speech, he emphasized on the need to find prospects for collaboration in water resources, to ensure substantive equity impacts.

Andreas Bauer, Senior Representative of International Monetary Fund for Nepal, India and Bhutan, expressed his concern for the future of the region. He said, “Countries in the South Asian region that are dependent on international capital markets need to be prepared to deal with volatile change and adjustments. Shared gravity will bring the countries together in terms of trade and investment.”

Agreeing with him was Sanjaya Kathuria, Lead Economist on Regional Integration at the World Bank’s South Asia Regional Cooperation and Integration Unit. “Regional integration in South Asia is an opportunity to the region to exhibit leadership to the world,” he said, “Even in practical terms, trade with neighbors is required for lower prices, better quality and greater variety.”

The students’ meet this year focused on team participation and a healthy competitive spirit, ultimately resulting in unity and comraderies.