ASEAN is ‘central pillar’ of India’s Act East Policy, says PM: The group and its history

ASEAN is ‘central pillar’ of India’s Act East Policy, says PM: The group and its history

Context- Speaking at the 20th ASEAN-India summit in jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday (September 7) said ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is the “central pillar” of India’s Act East Policy and the country fully supports the group’s centrality and outlook on the Indo-Pacific.


(Credits- Jagran Josh)

Highlighting the need to build a rule-based post-Covid world order, Modi added that the progress of a free and open Indo-Pacific and elevating the voice of the Global South is in the common interest of all.

What is ASEAN?

  • On 8 August 1967, five leaders – the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – came together in Bangkok, according to the website of ASEAN. Thailand was brokering some disputes among Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and it eventually led to the signing of a document.
  • Over the next few decades, five other countries joined them – Brunei Darussalam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam. They have an anthem, a flag and biannual summits (twice a year) with a rotating chairmanship. An example of the focus on unity, its official motto is “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.
  • The ASEAN Declaration signed by the five leaders conveyed the aspiration to further regional cooperation.
  • These were about cooperation in the economic, social, cultural, technical, educational and other fields, and in the promotion of regional peace and stability and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.
  • It stipulated that the Association would be open for participation by all States in the Southeast Asian region subscribing to its aims, principles and purposes.

What is India’s link with ASEAN?

  • ASEAN is central to India’s Act East policy, which focuses on the extended neighbourhood in the Asia-Pacific region. The policy was originally conceived as an economic initiative but has gained political, strategic and cultural dimensions including the establishment of institutional mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation.
  • India is part of the ASEAN Plus Six grouping, which includes China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia as well.
  • In 2010, a Free Trade Agreement was also signed and entered into force between India and ASEAN.
  • While India was part of negotiations to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in 2020, it ultimately decided not to do so. However, in the past eight years, trade has grown in terms of value, barring the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021.
  • ASEAN itself has recently faced issues that complicate coordination, such as the rise of China and its claims over the South China Sea (many of which compete with claims of ASEAN members like the Philippines) and the issue of military conflict in Myanmar.

Syllabus- Prelims; Current Affairs

Source- Indian Express