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Republic Day Special: Know our special relation with 10 ASEAN countries

Our Prime Minister had introduced ‘Act East Policy’ in 2014 to increase our cooperation in Asia Pacific Region. ‘Act East Policy’ is said to be the extension of our ‘Look East Policy’ which was adopted in 1990’s to increase our cooperation with South East Asian Neighbors.  This Republic Day India had invited all the leaders of 10 countries of South East Asia, or or better known as ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries.

This is the first time the leaders of all the 10 South East Asian countries are invited to be part of our Republic Day Celebration. We have also recently celebrated 25 years of India-ASEAN relations, 15 years of summit level partnership and 5 years of  Strategic Partnership.

India has always shared a special relationship with 10 South East Asian Nation, . It is also notable to mention that India shared this ties not only in the modern era, but from the ancient era of Pallava and Chola dynasty of India, as there exist trade route between them during that period. Also the architecture of many temples of South East Asian Nations have similar to Dravidian Architecture. It is also said that Hinduism, Buddhism even Islam had spread from India to South East.

Here are some of the examples of our special relation with 10 ASEAN countries:-

1. India and Thailand

This year, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha of Thailand is invited to be the Republic Day Guest. Thailand is one of the country with past linkages with India. The Thailand version of Ramayana is called ‘Ramakien’. Thailand also homes to a large number of Indian Diaspora. Also, some of the Thailand University teaches Sanskrit. There is a Sanskrit Studies Centre at Silpakorn University in Bangkok. There are also India Studies center at Thammasat University and Mahidol University. Thailand is also one of the most favored tourist destinations of Indians offering visa on arrival. India and Thailand also working on India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral Highway.

2. India and Singapore

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is invited to be the part of our Republic Day celebration. Indian diaspora in Singapore is said to be constituted 9% of its total population. A number of cultural societies like Temple of Fine Arts, Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society, Nrityalaya, Kalamandir, who is said to promote Indian dance and arts in Singapore. Indian festivals have also similar with Festival in Singapore. Singapore is also ours one of the largest trading partner in ASEAN region, and Singapore is also tied up with India to build our ‘Smart cities’ in India especially to develop Amaravathi, the new capital of Andhra Pradesh.

3. India and Malaysia

The one of the chief guest of our Republic Day would be Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Yet another country in South East Asia with large number of Indian Diaspora, similar culture and impressive trade relation. ‘Hikayat Seri Rama’ is the Malaysian adoption of the Indian epic of Ramayana. Malaysia is also favored by students to go for higher education, and also India have several numbers of Malaysian students enroll in universities.

4. India and Indonesia

President Joko Widodo of Indonesia will be our Republic Day Guest. Indonesia is another country with similar cultural linkages with India. It is said that Hinduism, Buddhism and even Islam, which happened to be the largest religion of Indonesia had been spread from India. India had also helped Indonesia during its struggle for Independence against the Dutch rulers. There is a Rabindranath Tagore bust situated in Borobudur Temple and also a Gandhi statue is present in Indonesia. Ramayana and Mahabharata also most popular among all the people of Indonesia.

5. India and Vietnam

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc of Vietnam is invited to be the part of our Republic Day celebration, yet another country with deep historical roots. The Cham dynasty of Vietnam had ancient linkages with India, also there is Buddhist linkages between India and Vietnam. India also said to be Vietnam age old friends and had supported Vietnam in all major international issues during the colonial and post colonial years. In recent years also there are several new areas had been identified to foster our relation to Vietnam.

6. India and Myanmar

Myanmar of ASEAN, is our closest neighbor located in the proximity of North East India and shares culture and tradition similar to India. Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s incumbent State Councilor, will be our Republic Day guests as India tries to foster its relation with Myanmar. Also India is trying to improve connectivity of Myanmar through North East to increase our cooperation with Myanmar. Myanmar not only home to a large number of Indian Diaspora, but also lots of stateless people from Indian origin and there is a need to improve the problem based on ethnicity. ‘Yama Zatdaw’ is a Myanmar version of Ramayana.

7. India and Cambodia

This year, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia will visit India as our Republic Day guest. Cambodia shares Indian roots, as the largest religious monument of the world that is located in Cambodia, Angwor What is said to be of Indian roots. It was built by the Khmer by Suryavarman II who is said to be descendants of Chola Dynasty of India. ‘Reamkar’ is a Cambodian epic poem that is based on the Indian epic of Ramayana.

8. India and Philippines

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte of Philippines will be our Republic Day Guest this year. Like other countries Phillipines also share similar historical roots and which is quite evident even today. It is found that there are various similarities of the Sanskrit language in Philippines language. Hinduism of Philippines has also said to spread from India. The Philippines also has its own version of Ramayana known as ‘Maharadia Lawana’.

9. India and Laos

India has maintained a regular diplomatic relation with Laos. This year, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos will be our Republic Day guest. India has quite a number of political and economic engagements with Laos. India also signed an agreement for the restoration of the UNESCO world heritage site at Vat Phu, which ASI or Archaeological Survey of India has a major role. ‘Phra Lak Phra Ram’ is an adaptation of Valmiki Ramayana of India.

10. India and Brunei

The guest from Brunei will be Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Before Brunei was converted to the Islamic Sultanate in the late 14th century, it was ruled by Hindu, Buddhist kingdom, which is said has its roots from Indo-Malaysia or China. After the establishment of diplomatic relation between India and Brunei, we had maintained a cordial relation in the field of commerce and economic and political relation which was done by regular exchanges and ties.

This year it will be a great celebration of Republic Day with 10 leaders of ASEAN and we also wish a grand success in our Foreign Policy.