India, ASEAN Summit: Enhancing Ties
Topic: General Studies 2:
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
In News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said enhancing all kinds of connectivity, including in social, digital and financial spheres, with the 10-nation ASEAN grouping is a major priority for India. He made the remarks at a virtual summit between India and the ASEAN.
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region, and India and several other countries including the US, China, Japan and Australia are its dialogue partners.
- The summit took place amid China’s aggressive behaviour in the disputed South China Sea as well as in eastern Ladakh. A number of ASEAN countries have territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.
Theme: Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN
The ASEAN leaders –
- Acknowledged India’s contribution towards promoting peace and stability in the region and welcomed India’s support to ASEAN centrality.
- The Leaders also welcomed the adoption of the new ASEAN-India Plan of Action for 2021-2025.
- The discussions also covered regional and international issues of common interest and concern, including South China Sea and terrorism.
- Both sides noted the importance of promoting a rules-based order in the region including through upholding adherence to international law, especially the UNCLOS.
- The leaders affirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, safety and security in the South China Sea, and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight.
ASEAN and India
The ties between India and ASEAN have been on an upswing in the last few years with focus being on ramping up cooperation in the areas of trade and investment as well as security and defence.
The ASEAN region along with India together comprises a combined population of 1.85 billion people, which is one fourth of the global population and their combined GDP has been estimated at over USD 3.8 trillion.
ASEAN-India strategic partnership stands on a strong foundation of shared geographical, historical and civilisational ties. India’s Act East Policy, underlining ASEAN centrality, reflects the importance, India attaches to engagement with ASEAN.
India was one of the first countries to welcome ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific, which has a lot in common with India’s own Indo-Pacific Vision. New Delhi wants to see a strong, unified and prosperous ASEAN playing a central role in the Indo-Pacific region. With the increasing focus on oceans as providers of resources, the reservoirs of biodiversity, the highways of global trade and the frontiers of scientific research, cooperation in the maritime domain has become increasingly important under the overall rubric of ASEAN-India cooperation.
ASEAN and India share land and maritime borders, and there is a lot of scope for enhancing connectivity through land, air and sea. India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway is an ongoing effort to enhance road connectivity between Northeast India and Southeast Asia. There is good air-connectivity between India and several ASEAN countries, including Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Last year, Indigo and Vietjet started air-services between India and Vietnam.
With the Indo-Pacific gaining salience in global discourse, the partnership between India and ASEAN is poised to achieve new strengths.
Underlined the centrality of ASEAN in India’s Act East Policy
- Noted that a cohesive, responsive and prosperous ASEAN is central to India’s Indo-Pacific Vision and contributes to Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
- Underscored the importance of 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.
- He also invited the ASEAN countries to cooperate on various pillars of India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).
- Highlighted India’s response and broader support to the international community, and welcomed ASEAN’s initiatives to fight the pandemic.
- Prime Minister announced a contribution of US$ 1 million to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund.
- Underscored the importance of greater physical and digital connectivity between ASEAN and India
- Reiterated India’s offer of US$ 1 billion Line of Credit to support ASEAN connectivity
- On trade and investment, underlined the importance of diversification and resilience of supply chains for post-COVID economic recovery.
Connecting the Dots:
- What are India’s strategic and economic interests in the ASEAN? What measures have been taken for increasing outreach to the ASEAN countries? Examine.