CONNECTING INDIA AND ASEAN (GS-2 Bilateral Groupings; International organisation; Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests)

CONTEXT:- Virtual ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit on the  Future of India-ASEAN Connectivity Partnerships, the Indian government underlined the importance of trans-border connectivity between India and ASEAN nations.

ABOUT ASEAN:- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a regional organization which was established to promote political and social stability amid rising tensions among the Asia-Pacific’s post-colonial states. The motto of ASEAN is “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”. 

ASEAN Secretariat is located in  Jakarta, Indonesia. 

ASEAN was established in 1967 with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by its founding fathers. 

Following are the members of ASEAN

  1. Thailand (founding member)

  2. The Philippines (founding member)

  3. Malaysia (founding member)

  4. Singapore (founding member)

  5. Indonesia (founding member)

  6. Brunei (joined in 1984)

  7. Vietnam (joined in 1995)

  8. Lao PDR (joined in 1997)

  9. Myanmar (joined in 1997)

  10. Cambodia (joined in 1999

Connectivity between India and ASEAN India currently is working with ASEAN on multiple connectivity projects, through land, water, and air. It will gradually change the geopolitical landscape of the region. In order to assist such development, India is aggressively developing necessary infrastructure in the north-east eg BCIM project (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Corridor). It will help India’s northeastern states to develop their economic potential and integrate with mainland India.

India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is central to India’s growing engagement with her eastern neighbours and will  further enable small and medium-sized enterprises in the border areas to explore new business opportunities. India contributes actively to ASEAN-led forums such as the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus, and ASEAN Regional Forum.  ASEAN-India and East Asia summits symbolised India’s “continued commitment” to strengthen its engagement with ASEAN members.

TRANS-BORDER CONNECTIVITY PROJECTS

India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway: It is one of the flagship projects for land connectivity between India and ASEAN. Connecting the three countries from Moreh (India) to Mae Sot (Thailand) to Bagan  (Myanmar), was first proposed in 2002. Moreover a Motor vehicle agreement between these three countries is in its final stage. Once signed it will be the first-ever cross border facilitation agreement between South and Southeast Asia.

Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project (KMMTTP): It is a project that focuses on maritime connectivity between India and ASEAN. It was initiated by the government of India in 2008 and entirely funded by India.To seek a shorter alternative route through Myanmar for the transportation of goods to the northeast region of India. It connects Kolkata (India) to Sittwe and Paletwa (Myanmar) by sea and river respectively.

Mekong-India Economic Corridor (MIEC): It  involves the integration of four Mekong countries – Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia along with India, connecting Ho Chi Minh City, Dawei, Bangkok, and Phnom Penh with Chennai.The corridor will provide opportunities for the participant countries to develop infrastructure, enhance their economic base with the region, and especially reduce the transit distance between India and ASEAN countries.

Way forward:-

India’s geostrategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region depend on India’s bilateral and multilateral engagements with the countries in the region.  Maintaining cordiality with ASEAN as an organisation and with the individual Southeast Asian countries remains crucial for India.

By

Anshum Verma

Plutus IAS Daily Current Affairs 18th September 2021