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India-Asean ties come closer with  unprecedented cooperation, connectivity activities

(Centre): India’s Ambassador to Thailand, H.E. Mr. Anil Wadhwa
(R-L) Prashant Agrawal (Dep Chief of Mission, India), Gwen Robinson (Bangkok Correspondent, Financial Times), Sushil Saraff (President, India-Thai Chamber of Commerce), Dr Jaideep Nair (Counsellor, Indian Embassy), Kiatichai Pongpanich (Senior Journalist), Harsh Sethi (MD, Neon Infotech), Pichai Chuensuksawadi  (Editor in Chief, Bangkok Post), Swarup Roy (Founder of AseanAffairs & host), Dr Kriengsak Charoenwongsak (Eminent Economist, Former Bangkok Governor candidate), Said Irandoust (President , Asian Institute of Technology), Jay Shankar Mukherjee (MD, 3i Infotech Thailand), Bhupedra Singh (MD, Ranbaxy Thailand), Renuka Narayanan (Director, India Cultural Centre, Bangkok) and Karin Lohitnavy (AseanAffairs PR Partner) at the ‘India Lunch Meet’ hosted by Mr. Swarup Roy, Founder & Chairman of AseanAffairs media at the Rembrandt Hotel, Bangkok, on 26 October 2012.

H.E. Mr Anil Wadhwa, India’s ambassador to Thailand detailed the raft of measures launched on an unprecendented scale by India and Asean to bring their ties closer since early this year. He spoke to a gathering of Editors, senior journalists and businessmen at the ‘India Lunch Meet’ hosted by Mr Swarup Roy, Founder & Chairman of AseanAffairs media at the Rangmahal restaurant, Rembrandt Hotel, Bangkok, on 26 october 2012.
“Enhancing connectivity is the key to bring our relations with ASEAN to a new level altogether”, said the Ambassador. “We look forward to many years of sustained, beneficial interaction between India and ASEAN to mutual benefit”, he added. Thailand has been an active participant in all these initiatives and Embassy of India has worked closely with the concerned Thai authorities on all programmes. Following the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh to Myanmar, a new thrust has been imparted to early completion of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and work has begun to finish remaining segments under the responsibility of respective countries.  India has offered to construct 71 bridges on 160 kms of Tamu-Kalewa section (already built by India) and would also construct the Kalewa-Yargyi section of the Trilateral Highway.  With the proposed development of Dawei port, maritime connectivity of Thailand and rest of South-East Asia with the Eastern Seaboard of India would be vastly enhanced.  The Car Rally and Sudarshini’s expedition serve to highlight the connectivity imperative.

ASEAN and India chart a new partnership for peace and prosperity
Leaders of ASEAN are getting together in New Delhi to chart the future direction of ASEAN-India relations at the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit on December 20-21, 2012. The Summit, hosted by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, marks the 20th anniversary of the ASEAN-India dialogue partnership and the 10th anniversary of ASEAN-India Summit-level partnership. Enhancing relations with ASEAN has been central to India’s "Look East Policy" initiated in early 90s and there has been steady progress in relations since. India became a sectoral dialogue partner of ASEAN in 1992 and a full dialogue partner in 1996. Annual Summits have been held since 2002.

    A number of Government to Government activities and People to People initiatives are being organized to mark the Commemorative year. Two flagship events are the ASEAN-India Car Rally, 2012 and Shipping Expedition of INS Sudarshini to ASEAN countries. The Car Rally is an expedition of 31 Mahindra & Mahindra XUV 5oo vehicles traversing through 8 of the 10 ASEAN Countries and India in 22 days around 8000 kilometers. 124 participants of India and all 10 ASEAN countries are participating. Rally is to be flagged off from Indonesia on November 26, 2012.  INS Sudarshini has set sail on September 15, 2012 from Kochi, India, and is to call at 13 foreign ports in 9 ASEAN countries apart from Kochi, Chennai and Port Blair in India
    In the run up to the Summit, India-ASEAN Ministerial meetings are being held in critical areas of Environment; Agriculture and Forestry; and New & Renewable Energy. Commerce Ministers of ASEAN have been invited by India’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles to flag down India-ASEAN Car Rally in Guwahati on December 16, 2012 and participate in the 2nd ASEAN-India Business Fair, Business Summit and Business Council on December 18-20, 2012 in New Delhi to identify capabilities and opportunities across sectors for businesses from India and ASEAN, for enhancing investment and bilateral trade, joint partnerships, technology transfer, marketing tie-ups etc. Heads of Space Agencies of India and ASEAN countries discussed cooperation in space science and remote sensing and the training of ASEAN Personnel in Space Science & Technology in Bangalore on June 19-20, 2012.

    People-to-People interaction has been an important dimension of growing India-ASEAN engagement, A number of institutionalized mechanism have facilitated this process. From Thailand, parliamentarians, artists, academicians and cultural personalities have participated in the visit of ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) delegation (New Delhi, July 29-31, 2012), 1st Meeting of the ASEAN-India Network of Think-Tanks (New Delhi, August 7-8, 2012) India-ASEAN Artists Residency “Merging Metaphors” (Darjeeling, June 11-17, 2012) and India-ASEAN Civilizational Dialogue (Patna, July 20-22, 2012).

    25 students from Thailand are to participate in the ASEAN-India Youth Exchange Programme programme being held in India in December 2012 for 250 ASEAN students. Under the ASEAN-India Media Exchange Programme, the first group of 20 media persons visited India for Delhi Dialogue-IV in February 2012. Foreign Minister Mr. Surapong Tovichakchaikul had participated in DD-IV. The second batch of 20 media persons are visiting India for the Commemorative Summit in December 2012. The Foreign Service Institute of India will conduct a special training course for 50 ASEAN Diplomats and The Centre for Public Policy (CPP) of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore is working with the ASEAN Secretariat to conduct an 'Executive Programme in Public Policy and Management' for 20 ASEAN Civil Servants later this year.

        The Car rally is to pass through Thailand twice (during November 29- December 3 and December 10-11, 2012) and a number of exciting events are being held in Phuket, Bangkok and Sukhothai.  A reception for rally participants is being hosted by Indian Ambassador Anil Wadhwa at Hotel Hilton in Phuket on November 30 to welcome the rally.  Guests will enjoy cultural performances, cuisine and glimpses of Incredible India. In Bangkok, ceremonial flag-off for the car rally is to be done at Royal Plaza in the morning of December 2 for which Prime Minister Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra has been invited to preside.  The evening would witness a special programme hosted by the Indian Embassy at Bangkok Convention Centre, Centara Central World.  A business seminar is being organized on December 3 on the theme of ‘ASEAN-India connectivity: promoting linkages between ASEAN and India’s North-East’, followed by a number of business-to-business meetings at the same venue for which a number of companies from India’s North-Eastern states are visiting Bangkok.  Specialist chefs are being flown from India by India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) for an Indian food festival at Centara, Central World from November 28 to December 4, 2012.

    Sudarshini would visit Bangkok on January 18-20 and Phuket on February 23-25, 2013.  The Ship’s visit would witness business events, special cultural performances and exhibitions emanating from an India-ASEAN artist camp and the historical interaction between India and ASEAN.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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