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In a significant testimony of regional cooperation and unity, the South Asian University (SAU), an initiative of the eight South Asian countries, held its first convocation ceremony here on Saturday.
In all, 652 students from five faculties - economics, legal studies, life sciences and biotechnology, mathematics and computer science, and social sciences - from the 2012 batch were conferred their master's degree at the ceremony presided over by Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa.
Congratulating the students, Thapa said that SAU was a testament to the shared aspirations and collective prosperity of the whole region.
"It is our demonstration of our willingness and ability to work together across borders to achieve greatness," he said.
"We can set an example of regional cooperation to the world through this great institution."
Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh, who conferred gold medals on 25 of 31 toppers, recalled that the concept of SAU started in the 13th Summit of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (Saarc) in Dhaka in 2005.
"Our collective vision was to establish a university dedicated to the region," he said.
"It will have the best in terms of facilities, faculty, academic input and research environment."
Singh said that the endeavour was to build a culture of understanding and regional consciousness, nurture liberal, bright and quality leadership amongst the youth of the region, and enhance the capacity of the region in science, technology and other disciplines considered vital for the improvement of quality of life.
"Do remember, the South Asian region with all its countries has common challenges, has common areas which need concern, and therefore the university was designed to ensure that we collectively garner those faculties and sciences which will help the region," he said.
SAU came into existence in 2010 and is currently functioning from its Akbar Bhavan campus at Chanakyapuri in New Delhi
The permanent campus of SAU is being developed at a government allotted plot at Maidangarhi next to the campus of Indira Gandhi National Open University.
When the university moves into this campus, it will expand to accommodate 12 faculties in all with a student count of over 5,000.