Imphal: Stating that the civilisational connection between India and ASEAN stretches back to several millenniums with the regions having had shared experiences and have enriched each other through trade, religion, art and traditions; Union Minister of State for External Affairs & Education Dr RK Ranjan asserted that ASEAN- India relations form the central pillar of India’s Act East Policy, which traces its genesis to the setting up of modern India ASEAN collaboration three decades ago.
Addressing the valedictory session of 4th ASEAN-India Youth Summit hosted by India Foundation and the Government of Telangana in Hyderabad on Tuesday, Dr RK Ranjan stated that Indo-Asean relations has evolved beyond its economic focus to encompass a wide spectrum of engagement including socio-cultural cooperation, strategic aspects, connectivity, as also new and emerging technologies.
He stated that this shared civilizational heritage provides a solid foundation for its contemporary partnership which is also enhanced by its common strategic priorities of securing the societies and ensuring peace and prosperity for the people.
The Union Minister maintained that India and ASEAN also share similar vision for the Indo-Pacific and it is reflected in the convergence of ASEAN Outlook for the Indo-Pacific and India’s own vision for the region as enunciated by Prime Minister Modi in 2018 and implemented through Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative. ASEAN centrality is an important element of this vision.
This shared approach to the region has resulted in a steady growth in India’s engagement with ASEAN as a whole as well as with individual ASEAN countries. The theme of this Youth Summit – “Strengthening ASEAN-India Partnership in the Indo-Pacific” is aimed at bringing out the youth perspective on this topic, he added.
He noted that connectivity, in its broadest sense is one the important aspects of ASEAN-India relation. Connectivity includes physical, digital, economic and people-to-people connectivity.
Given that India and ASEAN share land and maritime borders, enhancing Land, Air and Maritime connectivity with ASEAN and with the wider Indo-Pacific region is the priority. India is also synergising its own connectivity initiatives in the region with ASEAN’s Master Plan for Connectivity, he elaborated.
Another important aspect of connectivity is Digital Connectivity which formed a key part of your discussions. As data, digitization, and technology continue to reshape every aspect of our lives, digital connectivity becomes just as important as physical connectivity. India and ASEAN have a very robust digital partnership, as we work together on the various aspects of shared Digital Transformation and Institutional linkages in this area, he stated.
The two sides are also cooperating on various capacity building programmes on topics like Fostering Broadband Access and Connectivity, Satellite Communication, Mobile Communication, 5G and Internet of Things, Cyber Forensics and Telecom Security Management. India and ASEAN are also looking forward to co-operation on Fintech, Cyber Policy and Cyber-Security, he explained.
Dr RK Ranjan also noted that cultural exchanges and people-to-people contacts, which, undoubtedly is an important pillar of ASEAN India engagement. Student exchange through scholarship schemes by ICCR, Nalanda University, IIT and ITEC Programme is the most important component, he added.
The Union Minister exuded confidence that the bonds formed during this summit will continue to flourish and will serve as a foundation for future collaborations.