The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) comprising of eight Member States viz Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka was established in 1985. The objectives as outlined in the SAARC Charter are: to promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life; to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to provide all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potentials; to promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia; to contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another's problems; to promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields; to strengthen cooperation with other developing countries; to strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters of common interests; and to cooperate with international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes.
The areas of cooperation include: Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Security; Environment, Natural Disasters and Biotechnology; Economic, Trade and Finance; Social Affairs; Information and Poverty Alleviation; Energy, Transport, Science and Technology; Education, Security and Culture, Human Resource Development and Tourism, among others. The First Meeting of the Ministers of Science and Technology was held in September 2008, at New Delhi, wherein the Action Plan on Science and Technology was adopted. A number of short-term activities have been undertaken as a follow-up to the Action Plan. These activities were aimed to promote cooperation as envisaged in the Action Plan on Science & Technology titled ‘Themes for Cooperation’.