30 Years of ASEAN-India relations

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30 Years of ASEAN-India relations
The ASEAN Editorial Team
ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Departmen
3 Jan 2023
ASEAN Identity and Community Building

The year 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-India relations, and its progression into a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. India initially came on board as a Sectoral Dialogue Partner in 1992, then gained Dialogue Partner status three years later. It began participating in ASEAN Summits in 2002, became a Strategic Partner in 2012, and in 2015, it formally set up a Mission to ASEAN to deepen its engagement with ASEAN.

ASEAN and India celebrated this historic milestone with a series of cultural, artistic, and formal events throughout the year. During the three decades of formal relations, cooperation between ASEAN and India steadily grew in the areas of culture and social development, economy, and political-security. The details of this cooperation are outlined in the latest Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity (2021-2025).

In the socio-cultural sphere, the plan focuses on educational and media exchanges, capacity building of ASEAN citizens through Indian scholarships, teaching, and research partnerships, promotion of women and youth participation in human development programmes, documentation and dissemination of knowledge about civilisational links between ASEAN and India, and disaster management and humanitarian assistance. 

Following this plan of action, ASEAN and India pursued the following programmes and activities: various scholarships for ASEAN students at Nalanda University, Doctoral Fellowship in India for ASEAN, ASEAN-India Media Exchange Visits, ASEAN-India Youth Summit, ASEAN-India Music Festival, ASEAN-India Artists’ Camp, International Conference on ASEANIndia Cultural and Civilisational Links, and The ASEAN magazine. India also contributed to ASEAN’s humanitarian assistance in Myanmar.

ASEAN and India likewise launched two new projects this year. One is the setting up an expert panel and ad-hoc working group to study the feasibility of an ASEAN Cultural Heritage List. The other is the ASEAN-India Network of Universities, which gives participating universities from ASEAN and India an opportunity to form linkages in three areas: faculty exchange, doctoral student exchange, and joint research or PhD research supervision.

In the sphere of economics, the plan of action includes the facilitation of trade and investment, promotion of energy security through the development of renewable and alternative energy sources and an integrated regional power grid, research and development (R&D) and capacity building in the field of science and technology, and support to digital connectivity and skills development.

In line with this, ASEAN and India recently approved the scope of the review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement to make it simple and user-friendly and to truncate trade transactions. They held a High-Level Conference on Renewable Energy to facilitate knowledge sharing on factors that impact the integrated renewables market. In science and technology, ASEAN and India launched the inaugural ASEAN-India Start-up Festival, which aims to showcase the most promising innovations in the region. In December, ASEAN and India are also holding the ASEAN-India Grassroots Innovation Forum, which provides a venue for innovators from local communities to exhibit their products and share experiences in grassroots innovation.

In the digital sector, several activities have been completed or are underway, such as the Cyber Threat Hunting Webinar and the multitude training courses on advanced satellite communication, 5G and Internet of Things, ICT in disaster management, telecommunication security, mobile communication and future trends, and cyber forensics.

In the political-security sphere, the plan of action includes continuing dialogue in various platforms, maritime cooperation, and collaboration to combat transnational crime and terrorism. Towards this, ASEAN and India continue to hold the Delhi Dialogue, and India recently hosted the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) delegation.

These cooperation projects and activities are identified and f inalised through multilevel dialogue mechanisms: the ASEAN-India Summit, ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers Meeting, and the ASEAN-India Ministerial and Senior Officials meetings. Some of them arise from interactions with and recommendations of ASEAN sectoral bodies.

India has created three funding sources to support these cooperation activities. These are the ASEANIndia Cooperation Fund, which was established in 2009 and has an initial funding of 50 million US dollars; ASEAN-India Science and Technology Development Fund, which funds joint R&D projects and has received infusions of 1 million US dollars in 2007 and 5 million US dollars in 20162017; and ASEAN-India Green Fund, with an initial contribution of 5 million US dollars and is meant to support environment- and climate changerelated activities.

ASEAN and India recently issued a Joint Statement on ASEANIndia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, in which they committed to strengthening their partnership, reaffirmed their cooperation priorities, and pledged to work together on regional and global issues of common concern.