By Rahul Kumar
New Delhi, Oct 28: India and the ten Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are holding their annual Summit on October 28 to discuss the progress in commerce, culture and connectivity.
Prime minister Narendra Modi will attend the virtual summit which will have the other Heads of State or Governments of the ASEAN Countries.
With earth-shaking developments and important re-alignments taking place in the Indo-Pacific region, the meet will look at the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership. Top of the mind will be the post-pandemic economic recovery and how can the two groups catalyse it further.
For India, South-East Asia is a vital region under its Act East Policy which seeks to develop deeper economic, strategic, cultural and connectivity links with the ten nations. Initiated in 2014, the Act East Policy shares common concerns with the ASEAN countries over China's visible economic might and military aggression.
Through the Act East Policy, India is also developing its hitherto neglected North-East region to bring about socio-economic development and create connectivity links to the ASEAN countries. In this initiative India has been working in collaboration with Japan and South Korea.
The ASEAN-India Summits are held annually and provide opportunities for India and ASEAN to engage at the highest level. For Prime Minister Modi, this will be the ninth summit.
The summit will also review the progress made in key areas including Covid-19 and health, trade and commerce, connectivity, and education and culture.
In the last year's summit, Modi had highlighted how a prosperous ASEAN is central to India's Indo-Pacific vision and contributes to Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR). He had also emphasised on strengthening convergence between India's Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific, to ensure a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.
Last year India had also contributed US $1 million ASEAN's Covid-19 response fund. The Prime Minister had also underscored the importance of greater physical and digital connectivity between ASEAN and India and reiterated India's offer of US$ 1 billion Line of Credit to support ASEAN connectivity.
India and South-East Asia are bound together through shared geographical, historical and civilizational ties that go back thousands of years. The two groups have undertaken a number of measures to keep the dialogue going and keep pace with the frantic activity happening across the globe.
External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar attended the ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers' Meeting. India and ASEAN also have an interaction at the level of the defence ministers.
Similarly, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Anupriya Patel attended the ASEAN Economic Ministers + India Consultations in September 2021 to strengthen economic cooperation.