The Third SAARC Writers Conference organised by the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature, and co-hosted by the National Centre in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from March 22-24, 2001, witnessed the participation of several established writers, poets, publishers, academicians, media persons and diplomats. There were Four Sessions for presentations of papers and discussions while the Closing Session was reserved for presentation of creative works. Besides, there were two interactions with University Professors at Jahangirnagar University and at Dhaka University.

The principal highlight of the Conference was the Awards Ceremony on March 23rd, 2001, in which the first-ever SAARC Literary Award for Lifetime Achievement was presented to Mr. Shamsur Rahman, eminent poet of Bangladesh, by Ms. Ajeet Cour on behalf of the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature. The Award carried a citation, a shawl and a cash award of Rs. 2,00,000 (equivalent to 2,23,120 takas).

Ms. Ajeet Cour Presenting the Cash Award of 2,23,120 Takes to Mr. Shamsur Rahman

Themes of the Sessions :

• Literature and Human Conditions with Reference to Women and the Sidelined and Subaltern.

• Impact of Globalization on the Cultural Fabric of SAARC Nations and Emerging Trends in Literature.

• Cultural Cooperation for Regional Development : Transcending Barriers.

• Readings of Creative Writings.

The Conference was attended by large no of delegates from the host contry as also from the other six guest countries. Prominent among these were: Prof. Anisuzzaman, Mr. Shamsur Rehman, Mr. Ramendu Majumdar, Mr. Mofidul Hoque, Prof. Abdul Bayer, Prof A. K. Azad Chaudhary, Mr. SAyed Shamsul Haq, Prof. Kabir Chaodhary, Mr. Abdul Khair, Ms. Tasmina Hussain, Prof. Niaz Zaman, Prof. Hayat Mamud, Mr. Nirmalendu Goon, Mss. Selina Hossain and many other eminent writers from Bangladesh; Mr. Dorji Penjore from Bhutan; Prof. Indranath Chadhuri, Ms. Kumkum Chanda, Dr. Ramkumar Makhopadhyay From India; Mr. Tulasi Diwasa, Prof. Abhi Subedi from Nepal; Mr. Ahmed Faraz from Pakistan and Mr. Tissa Abeysekara, Mr. Parakarma Kodituwakku from Sri Lanka.

The Third SAARC Writers Conference Declaration held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, had as its preamble:

• Recognizing the imperative for forging cultural ties for peace in the SAARC Region.

• Reiterating the SAARC Writers Commitment to continued literary interactions, exchange and extension of the agenda of creativity to install peace and respect for linguistic and cultural diversity in the minds of all sensitive intellectuals, and through them to political policy planners.

• Affirming the need for publication of anthologies, hosting of websites, increasing the flow of writers from one country to the other, and convening of Conferences and workshops for stimulating the creativity and promoting literary skills of young writers,

The Participants unanimously declared that to create an atmosphere conducive to a greater cultural intercourse especially in the realms of creative writing and the arts in the SAARC countries, and in the pursuit of this goal to utilize to the maximum the communication technologies at our disposal:

1. SAARC writers should help their countrymen to identify and differentiate between the positive and negative implications of globalisation, and ensure respect and protection for intellectual property rights, and must stand against the encroaching monoculture, and serve for preserving the uniqueness of individual cultures of every nation including those of minority ethnic groups.

2. SAARC Writers will raise a voice for the preservation of cultural heritage and forcefully denounce the destruction or demolition of a country’s heritage and cultural structures, which is the common heritage of humankind, and would uphold the freedom of writers, of creative thought and of all creative expression in visual arts, in media, in theatre, et al.

3. SAARC writers condemn as detrimental to the progress of humankind, chauvinism of any kind and in any form—linguistic, racial or political, either within a state or across borders.