South Asia today is one of the least integrated regions in the world, in spite of their shared history, institutions, culture, language, forms of government and geography. What is required is a synergic relationship among the countries that has obvious economic, political and social advantages. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was formed for precisely this reason. However, SAARC remains largely an inter-governmental forum, and has not emerged as a meaningful platform for the average citizen. It has not succeeded in including those who might be able to contribute to greater regional integration such as the private sector, students, cultural organizations, media, etc.
SAESM is a unique and pioneering initiative that provides a platform to undergraduate students of the region. The goal is similar to that of other grass-roots initiatives such as the SAARC Chambers of Commerce, viz. to create an understanding of the value of regional cooperation that transcends narrow, short-term domestic political gains that has until now been the stumbling block for greater regional cooperation.
SAESM focuses specially on students studying Economics at the undergraduate level for two reasons:
First, the curriculum in leading Universities in South Asia tends to under-emphasize regional issues and through its various activities seeks to promote a better understanding of these.
Second, because it targets young people who may or may not become professional economists, but are very likely to be thought leaders in their own countries and chosen fields, SAESM can be a particularly powerful platform for generating greater intellectual and political momentum for regional cooperation in South Asia.
In addition to the above, it strives to promote and facilitate higher studies for students for South Asian college students by organizing exchange of students and faculty across colleges in different universities, organize summer schools, organize interaction with social scientists and reputed scholars of South Asia as well as of international repute and to disseminate information by publishing e-journals, newsletters for students majoring in Economics at the undergraduate level.