Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday proposed to declare 2019 the “Asean-India Year of Tourism”. He was speaking on the second day of the Association of the South East Asian Nations-India commemorative summit, which marks the 25 years of India’s ties with the bloc.
The trade between India and Asean countries has grown 25 times in the last 25 years, Modi said, adding that he hoped to further enhance trade relations and work towards greater interaction among their business communities.
Asean is a multilateral organisation with Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam as members. Modi also announced 1,000 fellowships for students and researchers from Asean nations at Indian Institutes of Technology.
On Thursday, the member nations met at the leaders’ retreat to discuss the theme “Maritime Cooperation and Security”. Counter-terrorism, security and connectivity are the main challenges that are on the summit’s agenda. Earlier in the day, the prime minister held six bilateral meetings with Asean leaders, Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (East) Preeti Saran said, according to ANI.
India seeks to use the summit to focus on changing its “Look East” policy to “Act East”. The summit is also being held at a time when nations in the region are growing insecure about China’s increasing aggressiveness in boundary disputes and military show of strength.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Vietnam, Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, General Prayuth Chan-o-cha of Thailand, State Counsellor Aun San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, the Sultan of Brunei Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos and Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia will be chief guests at India’s 69th Republic Day parade on Friday, January 26.