Amidst escalating world tensions, including in Asia, the word ‘regionalism’ has lost currency. If at all, the term is understood as referring to military or strategic alliances among nation-states, whereas the more sedate meaning would be a coming together of countries in amity and cooperation. Regionalism in the Southasian subcontinent is drastically weakened as the frontiers become rigid with barbed wire and guard posts; and in the larger Asia, the storm clouds are amassing as the big powers estranged and building antagonistic alliances.
Nepal, at once part of High Asia and the Ganga plain, with geopolitical neutrality that few countries of the continent possess, is the place for conferences and conclaves. Kathmandu has one of the most open visa regimes, making it a welcoming venue for conferences, not to speak of the Valley’s ancient living culture and pleasant climate of six distinct seasons.
Being a pleasant place is not enough, though; a free society is required, one that provides the atmosphere for unhindered discussion. As a country that came late into democracy, over the decades Nepal has managed to develop pluralism in spite of internal political instability, external interference, and a run of human-made and natural calamities. In a world being over-run by climate crisis, AI, nuclear weaponisation, sand mining, plastic pollution, mass-migration, biodiversity loss and so many other existential maladies, Nepal provides the place for face-to-face meetings to seek urgent solutions.
Purak Asia is an initiative to bring together thoughtful people of Asia and beyond for meaningful exchange in physical meetings that yield results in the form of calls to action through initiatives, movements and publications that arouse opinion-makers and alert the public. Purak Asia is an organisation established by committed, confident citizens who have learnt from observing Nepal’s own experience and the challenges confronting various parts of Asia, that great regional transformation starts with having a place and platform for discourse and activism.