Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has shared his vision about ASEAN-India
partnership in an op-ed piece titled, “ ASEAN-India: Shared values, common
destiny”. The article has been published in the leading dailies from the ASEAN
member nations. Following is the complete text of the article.
ASEAN-India: Shared values, common destiny”
By : Shri Narendra Modi
Today, 1.25 billion Indians will have the honour to host 10 esteemed guests —
leaders of Asean nations — at IndiaEs Republic Day celebrations in our capital,
On Thursday, I had the privilege to host the ASEAN leaders for the
Commemorative Summit to mark 25 years of ASEAN-India Partnership. Their
presence with us is an unprecedented gesture of goodwill from ASEAN nations.
Responding to this, on a winter morning, India has come out to greet them in a
warm embrace of friendship.
This is no ordinary event. It is a historic milestone in a remarkable journey that
has brought India and ASEAN in a deepening partnership of great promise for
their 1.9 billion people, about one-fourth of human kind.
The India-ASEAN partnership may be just 25 years old. But, India's ties with
Southeast Asia stretch back more than two millennia. Forged in peace and
friendship, religion and culture, art and commerce, language and literature,
these enduring links are now present in every facet of the magnificent diversity
of India and Southeast Asia, providing a unique envelope of comfort and
familiarity between our people.
More than two decades ago, India opened itself to the world with tectonic
changes. And, with instincts honed over centuries, it turned naturally to the
East. Thus began a new journey of India's reintegration with the East. For India,
most of our major partners and markets — from ASEAN and East Asia to North
America — lie to the East. And, Southeast Asia and ASEAN, our neighbours by
land and sea, have been the springboard of our Look East and, for the last
three years, the Act East Policy.
Along the way, from dialogue partners, ASEAN and India have become
strategic partners. We advance our broad-based partnership through 30
mechanisms. With each Asean member, we have growing diplomatic,
economic and security partnership. We work together to keep our seas safe
and secure. Our trade and investment flows have multiplied several times.
ASEAN is India's fourth largest trading partner; India is ASEAN's seventh. Over
20% of India's outbound investments go to ASEAN. Led by Singapore, ASEAN is
India's leading source of investments. India's free trade agreements in the
region are its oldest and among the most ambitious anywhere.
Air links have expanded rapidly and we are extending highways deep into
continental Southeast Asia with new urgency and priority. Growing
connectivity has reinforced proximity. It has also put India among the fastest
growing sources of tourism in Southeast Asia. Over a 6 million strong Indian
diaspora in the region — rooted in diversity and steeped in dynamism —
constitutes an extraordinary human bond between us.
The Prime Minister has shared his views for each of the ASEAN member
nations as follows
Thailand has emerged as an important trading partner of India in Asean and is
also one of the important investors in India from Asean. Bilateral trade
between India and Thailand has more than doubled over the last decade.
Relations between India and Thailand are extensively spread across many
areas. We are important regional partners linking South and Southeast Asia.
We cooperate closely in the Asean, East Asia Summit and Bimstec (the Bay of
Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), as
also in the frameworks of Mekong Ganga Cooperation, Asia Cooperation
Dialogue and Indian Ocean Rim Association. Thailand's prime minister's state
visit to India in 2016 has made a long-lasting impact on bilateral relations.
The whole of India mourned with their Thai brothers and sisters the demise of
the great and popular King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The people of India also join
the friendly people of Thailand in praying for the long, prosperous and
peaceful reign of the new king, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn
The traditionally close and cordial relations have their historical roots in the
common struggle for liberation from foreign rule and the national struggle for
independence. Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and President Hồ Chí Minh led
our peoples in the heroic struggle against colonialism. During the visit of Prime
Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng to India in 2007, we signed the Strategic
Partnership agreement. This strategic partnership has grown into a
Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with my visit to Việt Nam in 2016.
India’s relations with Việt Nam are marked by growing economic and
commercial engagement. Bilateral trade between India and Việt Nam has
increased about 10 fold in 10 years. Defence Co-operation has emerged as a
significant pillar of strategic partnership between India and Việt Nam. Science
and Technology is another important area of cooperation between India and
India and Myanmar share a land-border of over 1600 kms as well as a maritime
boundary. Religious and cultural traditions flowing from our deep sense of
kinship and our common Buddhist heritage bind us as closely as does our
shared historical past. Nothing illuminates it more gloriously than the gleaming
tower of Shwedagon Pagoda. The cooperation to restore Ananda Temple in
Bagan with assistance of the Archaeological Survey of India also is emblematic
of this shared heritage.
During the colonial period, political bonds were forged between our leaders,
who displayed a great sense of hope and unity during our common struggle for
independence. Gandhiji visited Yangon several times. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was
deported to Yangon for many years. The clarion call of Netaji Subhash Chandra
Bose for India’s independence stirred the souls of many in Myanmar.
Our trade has more than doubled over the last decade. Our investment ties are
also robust. Development cooperation has a significant role in India’s relations
with Myanmar. This assistance portfolio is presently worth over $1.73 billion.
India’s transparent development cooperation is in line with Myanmar’s
national priorities and also builds synergy with the Master Plan of ASEAN
Singapore is a window to the heritage of India's ties to the region, the progress
of the present and the potential of the future. Singapore was a bridge between
India and Asean.
Today, it is our gateway to the East, our leading economic partner and a major
global strategic partner, which resonates in our membership in several regional
and global forums. Singapore and India share a strategic partnership.
Our political relations are infused with goodwill, warmth and trust. Our
defence ties are among the strongest for both.
Our economic partnership covers every area of priority for our two nations.
Singapore is India's leading destination and source of investments.
Thousands of Indian companies are registered in Singapore.
Sixteen Indian cities have over 240 direct flights every week to Singapore.
Indians make up the third-largest group of tourists in Singapore.
Singapore's inspirational multiculturalism and respect for talent have nurtured
a vibrant and dynamic Indian community that is contributing to deeper
cooperation between our nations.
I had a very satisfying visit to the Philippines a little over two months ago. In
addition to attending the ASEAN-India, EAS and related Summits, I had the
pleasure of meeting President Duterte and we had extensive discussions on
how to carry forward our warm and problem-free relationship. We are both
strong in services and our growth rates are amongst the highest among major
countries. Our business and trade potential holds great promise.
I laud President Duterte’s commitment to bringing about inclusive
development and to fighting corruption. These are areas where both countries
can work together. We are happy to share our experience with the Philippines
in universal ID cards, financial inclusion, making banking accessible to all,
facilitating direct transfer of benefits, and in promoting cashless transactions.
Making affordable medicines available to all is another priority area for the
government of the Philippines that we are ready to contribute to. From
Mumbai to Marawi, terrorism knows no boundaries. We are enhancing our
cooperation with the Philippines in facing this common challenge.
The contemporary relations between India and Malaysia are quite extensive
and spread across many areas. Malaysia and India share s Strategic Partnership
and we cooperate in a number of multilateral and regional fora. Malaysian
Prime Minister’s State visit to India in 2017 has made a long-lasting impact on
the bilateral relations.
Malaysia has emerged as the third largest trading partner of India in ASEAN
and is one of the important investors in India from ASEAN. Bilateral trade
between India and Malaysia has increased more than two-fold in 10 years.
India and Malaysia have a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation
Agreement since 2011. This Agreement is unique in the sense that both sides
have offered ASEAN Plus commitments in trade in goods and have exchanged
WTO Plus offers in trade in services. The Revised Double Taxation Avoidance
Agreement between the two countries, signed in May 2012, and the MoU on
Customs Cooperation, signed in 2013 further facilitate our trade and
Bilateral trade between India and Brunei has more than doubled over the last
decade. India and Brunei share common membership of UN, NAM,
Commonwealth, ARF, etc., and as developing countries with strong traditional
and cultural ties, Brunei and India enjoy a fair degree of commonality in their
perceptions on major international issues. the visit of the Sultan of Brunei to
India in May 2008 was a landmark in India-Brunei relations. Vice-President of
India visited Brunei in February 2016.
Relations between India and Lao PDR are extensively spread across many
areas. India has been actively involved in power transmission and agricultural
sectors in Lao PDR. Today, India and Lao PDR cooperate in a number of
multilateral and regional fora.
While the trade between India and Lao PDR is still below potential, India has
extended Duty Free Tariff Preference Schemes to Lao PDR, encourage exports
of goods from Lao PDR to India. We also have immense opportunities in
services trade that goes in building the economy of Lao PDR. Implementation
of the ASEAN-India Services and Investment Agreement would help facilitate
our services trade.
Separated by a mere 90 nautical miles in the Indian Ocean, India and Indonesia
share a continuity of civilizational relationship that spans over two millennia.
Whether it is the annual Balijatra celebrated in Odisha or the legends of
Ramayana and Mahabharata, which are visible across the entire landscape of
Indonesia, these unique cultural threads umbilically bind the peoples of Asia’s
two largest democracies in a special neighbourly embrace.
‘Unity in Diversity’ or Bhinneka Tunggal Ika is also a key facet of the shared
societal value structures that both countries celebrate, as also the common
values of democracy and rule of law. Today, as Strategic Partners, our
cooperation spans across the entire gamut of political, economic, defence &
security, cultural and people to people fields. Indonesia continues to be our
largest trading partner in ASEAN. Bilateral trade between India and Indonesia
increased 2.5 times in the last ten years. President Joko Widodo’s State visit to
India in 2016 has made a long-lasting impact on the bilateral relations.
The traditional and friendly relations between India and Cambodia are deeply
rooted in civilizational ties. The magnificent structure of Angkor Wat temple is
a glorious testimony and grand symbol of our ancient historical, religious and
cultural links. India was proud to undertake restoration and preservation of
Angkor Wat temple during the difficult period from 1986-1993. India continues
this valuable association in the ongoing restoration of Ta-Prohm temple.
After the collapse of Khmer Rouge regime, India was the first country to
recognize the new government in 1981. India was also associated with the
Paris Peace Accord and its finalization in 1991. These traditional bonds of
friendship have strengthened through regular exchange of high level visits. We
have expanded our cooperation in diverse fields such as institutional capacity
building, human resource development, developmental and social projects,
cultural exchanges, defence cooperation, tourism and people-to- people
In the ASEAN context, and on various global platforms, Cambodia is an
important interlocutor and a supportive partner for India. India is committed
to remain a partner in Cambodia’s economic development and looks forward
to further deepen its traditional ties.
And, India and ASEAN are doing much more. Our partnership in ASEAN-led
institutions like East Asia Summit, ADMM+ (the ASEAN Defence Ministerial
Meeting Plus) and ARF (the ASEAN Regional Forum) are advancing peace and
stability in our region. India is also an eager participant in the Regional
Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, seeking a comprehensive,
balanced and fair agreement for all 16 participants.
The strength and resilience of partnerships come not just from arithmetic of
numbers, but also from the underpinnings of the relationship. India and ASEAN
nations have relations free from contests and claims. We have a common
vision for the future, built on commitment to inclusion and integration, belief
in sovereign equality of all nations irrespective of size, and support for free and
open pathways of commerce and engagement.
The ASEAN-India partnership will continue to grow. With the gift of
demography, dynamism and demand — and with rapidly maturing economies —
India and ASEAN will build a strong economic partnership. Connectivity will
increase and trade will expand. In an era of cooperative and competitive
federalism in India, our states are also building productive cooperation with
Southeast Asian nations. India's Northeast is on a resurgent path. Links with
Southeast Asia will accelerate its progress. In turn, a connected Northeast will
be a bridge to ASEAN-India ties of our dreams.
As Prime Minister, I have attended four annual ASEAN-India Summits and East
Asia Summit. These have reinforced my conviction in ASEAN unity, centrality
and leadership in shaping the region in this vision.
This is a year of milestones. India turned 70 last year. ASEAN reached the
golden milestone of 50 years. We can each look to our future with optimism
and to our partnership with confidence.
At 70, India exudes the spirit, enterprise and energy of its young population. As
the fastest growing major economy in the world, India has become the new
frontier of global opportunities and an anchor of stability of the global
economy. With every passing day, it is easier and smoother to do business in
India. I hope that ASEAN nations, as our neighbours and friends, will be an
integral part of New India's transformation.
We admire ASEAN's own progress. Born when Southeast Asia was a theatre of
a brutal war and a region of uncertain nations, ASEAN has united 10 countries
behind a common purpose and a shared future. We have the potential to
pursue higher ambitions and address the challenges of our times: from
infrastructure and urbanisation to resilient agriculture and a healthy planet.
We can also use the power of digital technology, innovation and connectivity
to transform lives at unprecedented speed and scale.
A future of hope needs a solid bedrock of peace. This is an age of change,
disruptions and shifts that comes only rarely in history. ASEAN and India have
immense opportunities — indeed, enormous responsibility — to chart a steady
course through the uncertainty and turbulence of our times to a stable and
peaceful future for our region and the world.
Indians have always looked East to see the nurturing sunrise and the light of
opportunities. Now, as before, the East, or the Indo-Pacific Region, will be
indispensable to India's future and our common destiny. The ASEAN-India
partnership will play a defining role in both. And, in Delhi, ASEAN and India
renewed their pledge for the journey ahead.
The text of Prime Minister’s op-ed in ASEAN newspapers can be accessed at
the following links:
values-and- a-common- destiny
http://vietnamnews.vn/opinion/421836/asean-india- shared-values- common-
asean-india- shared-values- common-destiny.html
http://www.mizzima.com/news-opinion/asean- india-shared- values-common-
https://news.mb.com.ph/2018/01/26/asean-india- shared-values- common-