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Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) 2020 launched                    111,75 Think Tanks across the world ranked in different categories.                SDPI is ranked 90th among “Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-US)”.           SDPI stands 11th among Top Think Tanks in South & South East Asia & the Pacific (excluding India).            SDPI notches 33rd position in “Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by A Think Tank” category.                SDPI remains 42nd in “Best Quality Assurance and Integrity Policies and Procedure” category.              SDPI stands 49th in “Think Tank to Watch in 2020”.            SDPI gets 52nd position among “Best Independent Think Tanks”.                           SDPI becomes 63rd in “Best Advocacy Campaign” category.                   SDPI secures 60th position in “Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks” category.                       SDPI obtains 64th position in “Best Use of Media (Print & Electronic)” category.               SDPI gains 66th position in “Top Environment Policy Tink Tanks” category.                SDPI achieves 76th position in “Think Tanks With Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program” category.                    SDPI notches 99th position in “Top Social Policy Think Tanks”.            SDPI wins 140th position among “Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks”.               SDPI is placed among special non-ranked category of Think Tanks – “Best Policy and Institutional Response to COVID-19”.                                            Owing to COVID-19 outbreak, SDPI staff is working from home from 9am to 5pm five days a week. All our staff members are available on phone, email and/or any other digital/electronic modes of communication during our usual official hours. You can also find all our work related to COVID-19 in orange entries in our publications section below.    The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is pleased to announce its Twenty-third Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 14 – 17 December 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference is Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19. Read more…       FOOD SECIRITY DASHBOARD: On 4th Nov, SDPI has shared the first prototype of Food Security Dashboard with Dr Moeed Yousaf, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on  National Security and Economic Outreach in the presence of stakeholders, including Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Provincial and district authorities attended the event in person or through zoom. The dashboard will help the government monitor and regulate the supply chain of essential food commodities.

The Need for Shared Constituencies
By: Safwan A. Khan
While there has been high talk on South Asian regional integration for
quite a while now, there is little that has so far been achieved. This
is not surprising. Too often, the agenda for regional cooperation and
integration focuses on shared policy-making. Equally often that really
is what is done: conventions are held, policy movers and shakers sit
together, deliberate over issues, even sign important agreements. The
premise is that cooperation would follow from policy. When policy-makers
get too tied up with domestic issues back home, the regional focus is
lost, and so are measures for regional cooperation, even including
signed agreements. It is important to understand that the policy process
is confined to a few, and when they lose focus, it is difficult to
maintain buy-in for any agenda. 
 
Now let us consider what happens when there is ‘public buy-in’ for
something, if I may phrase it that way. Some recent examples from
Pakistan would include the reinstatement of an ousted Chief Justice,
which also eventually led to resignation by the head of the state.
Public buy-in brings down entire governments; on the other hand, it
brings others to power too. Please be mindful: these examples do not
mean to invoke a sense of rebellion. The point is that public buy-in
matters because it has deep policy impact. It appears that policy
decisions driven from public buy-in not only manage to get their way but
also set the future course of direction for the state. One can argue,
for example, that public buy-in for the reinstatement of the Chief
Justice was also important in shaping a democratic transition of
governments in Pakistan, as witnessed in General Elections 2013.
 
Hence, it is public buy-in, or rather, the lack of it, that may explain
the low progress towards South Asian regional cooperation and
integration. Indeed, ordinary people do not get to meet others from the
region through conferences and symposia arranged at the regional level,
at least not as often as those in the policy circles do.
People-to-people interaction is abysmally low in the region, despite
oft-cited commonalities in interests and culture. 
 
What may thus be needed are shared regional constituencies in
education, health, arts and culture, research and development, trade and
commerce, to name a few. Public buy-in through such shared
constituencies will help accelerate policy-making in favor of regional
cooperation. It will give meaning to signed agreements. It will set the
course for a more peaceful South Asia, and it will subdue the propensity
of conflicts between neighboring states. After all, it was public
buy-in garnered through the spread of convoluted nationalist and
religious mindsets that fuelled conflicts in the past. Why can this not
be reversed in favor of a more peaceful South Asia? 
 
There is another reason why shared constituencies are important for the
regional cooperation agenda. States do not appreciate dependencies. In
fact, the mere thought of getting too dependent compromises the interest
of policy-makers in measures for regional cooperation. From the point
of view of statesmen, this might even be understandable. Smaller states
do not want to become colonies of larger ones in their neighborhood. In
certain ways, regional integration might as well lead to colonization,
where smaller states become all too dependent on larger more resourceful
ones. In the interest of a region at peace with itself, this is not
desirable. 
 
Unlike mutual dependencies, which have also been recommended for South
Asian regional integration, shared constituencies are more sustainable
and peace-friendly, precisely because there are no dependencies to
threaten the sovereignty of states. Shared constituencies will generate
public buy-in for regional cooperation measures because they are in
public interest. Look at the Erasmus program in Europe for example,
under which universities from different countries partner and students
and scholars get to study in all these countries. It has created a
shared constituency in higher education and research, instead of making
countries dependent on each other. One can imagine similar examples in
other sectors. There are quite a few that come to mind and can be
adopted. 
 
While the role of policy-makers cannot be discounted, development
partners and multilateral organizations need to take note of investing
in programs that flourish shared constituencies in South Asia. As argued
above, public buy-in would follow, which will propel policy actions as
well as due implementation in favor of public interest across the
region. This way, shared constituencies will help in shedding off
competition between South Asian states and instead foster cooperation.
As it is, experts have already pointed out that the hope for South Asian
regional cooperation lies more with the citizens than the states.
Public buy-in for regional cooperation through shared constituencies
will be crucial in the actualization of that hope.

This article was originally published at:

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.