SHILLONG: Institutional collaborations between ASEAN and India would further boost the people to people relationship leading to the all round development of the region, said policy makers, diplomats, experts, academicians and advocated for strategic partnerships with close tie-ups.
India's External Affairs Ministry's Joint Secretary (South), Vishvas Vidu Sapkal said that the ASEAN-India strategic partnership rests on a strong foundation of our shared historical, geographical and civilisational ties and it is driven by common strategic priorities of promoting peace, security, stability and prosperity in the region.
"This relationship has gone beyond its cultural and economic dimensions. India and ASEAN share the pluralistic natures of our societies encompassing many religions of the world and its diverse cultures," Sapkal said on Monday while virtually addressing the inaugural session of the launching of the ASEAN-India Development Partnership Programme (AIDPP).
Director-General, ASEAN Directorate, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mark Neo, said that Singapore had always been a staunch supporter of India's engagement with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Noting that the relationship has grown stronger and deeper over the years, he said that nevertheless both sides could do more under Singapore's country coordinatorship of ASEAN-India Dialogue Relations from 2021 to 2024. Neo said that Singapore has identified a number of priority areas of cooperation - digital transformation, cyber-security, smart cities, research and innovation and regional economic integration. As ASEAN and India celebrate the 30th anniversary of Dialogue Relations in 2022, Neo welcomed India to keep up its engagement and explore opportunities to play a more active role in the region.
In virtual mode, the 5-day (August 16-August 20) long training programme on 'ASEAN-India Development Partnership' comprises lectures by scholars, diplomats and experts on various facets of ASEAN-India relations. Sponsored by the External Affairs Ministry, the programme is jointly organized by the Shillong-based think-tank and research group 'Asian Confluence', the Singapore based ASEAN Studies Centre of ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute and the New Delhi based ASEAN-India Centre at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS).
Director General of the RIS Sachin Chaturvedi, while talking about the programme, said that this was an attempt to bring in three different elements together and it was also an insight into how the economic relationships had progressed between ASEAN and India. "In the post-Covid era, the challenges have multiplied. The fiscal space and the unlimited flow of finance are no longer as easy as before and FINTECH is the new way forward for vast strategic initiatives. In this concluding decade, where we have only nine years to achieve the sustainable development goals, we have to work in a collaborative manner for their successful implementation," Chaturvedi said.
Director and CEO of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute Choi Shing Kwok highlighted the warm, robust, and mutually beneficial ties cultivated by ASEAN and India over the past three decades making a fruitful partnership in ASEAN-led mechanisms as well as their strong commitment to multilateralism and regionalism for advancing peace and stability in the region.
"Notwithstanding this, the full potential of relations has not been realized. The conditions for deeper engagement between ASEAN and India have changed. In the face of the changing global geo-strategic environment, particularly the US-China competition, and the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, ASEAN and India are now poised for rapid and accelerated progress in further deepening their engagement," Kwok said.
Kwok added, "Both parties can look to augment India's security and strategic presence in Southeast Asia to reinforce norms and values that are deeply held by their peoples. India is expected to remain an important strategic partner for ASEAN for the decades ahead."
Senior Fellow and Coordinator of ASEAN Studies Centre at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute Sharon Seah, New Delhi based Head of the ASEAN-India Centre, RIS, Prabir De and Asian Confluence's Executive Director Sabyasachi Dutta also strongly emphasized the all-round strategic partnerships between India and the ASEAN. (IANS)