To begin with, the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit 2018 in New Delhi witnessed the presence of the leaders of all ten member states of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) not just at the summit but also registered their strong presence by being invited by India as guest of honour at the Republic Day Parade. It deserves special mention here that the summit of 2018 was the 25th anniversary of the sectoral partnership, the 20th anniversary of the dialogue partnership and the fifth anniversary of the strategic partnership that was enunciated on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the commemorative summit in 2012. It is no ordinary feat that the leaders of all the ten ASEAN countries reiterated their firm resolve to strengthen further their relations with India which is now growing by leaps and bounds!
Going forward, Loong said that, “It is an honour for all the ASEAN leaders to be in New Delhi for this occasion. ASEAN leaders are also deeply honoured to be invited as chief guests at 69thRepublic Day Parade. He also rightly pointed out that, “ASEAN and India’s combined population of 1.8 billion represents one quarter of the world’s population. Our combined GDP exceeds $4.5 trillion. By 2025, India’s consumer market is expected to become the fifth largest in the world, while in southeast Asia middle-class households will double to 163 million. Both regions are also experiencing a demographic dividend – 60% of ASEAN’s population is below 35 years old, while India is projected to be the world’s youngest country with an average of 29 by 2020. ASEAN and India also have fast-growing internet user bases, which will help us grow the digital economy. Against this backdrop, we still have much scope to grow our ties – India accounted for only 2.6% of ASEAN’s external trade in 2016.”
It needs no rocket scientist to conclude that relations between India and ASEAN have come a long way in the last 25 years! The highest culminating point has been the presence of all the 10 ASEAN leaders as chief guests in the Republic Day Parade. It is for the first time that the ASEAN flag fly in the sky over Rajpath on 26 January, 2018.
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.