The central government is preparing for the mega Indo-ASEAN show which will be attended by all the 10 leaders from SE Asia in January amid growing demand for Delhi to play a bigger role in the region to counter the hegemony of China.
The Indo-ASEAN commemorative Summit in Delhi on January 25 to celebrate 25 years of partnership will be followed by the presence of all 10 leaders as chief guests at India’s Republic Day on January 26. This will be the first time that more than two leaders will be chief guests on India’s Republic Day. It was only thrice since 1950s that India had invited more than one leader as the chief guest during Republic Day.
In 1956, the UK Chancellor of Exchequer and Chief Justice of Japan were Chief Guests on January 26; later in 1968, Soviet leader Alexei Kosygin and Yugoslav leader Tito were chief guests; and in 1974, Tito once again was the Chief Guest along with the then Sri Lankan PM Bandernaike.
The highlight of the Commemorative Summit on January 25 will be the Delhi declaration that will outline vision for India’s ASEAN engagement for the next 25 years across sectors from security to economic partnership to India-led connectivity projects to centuries-old cultural links, according to persons familiar with the issue.
Some of the visiting SE Asian leaders will also hold their standalone bilateral meets with PM Modi on the sidelines of the Summit that promises to be as grand as the third edition of the Indo-Africa Summit here in 2015 and BRICS Summit in Goa in 2016.
Around 20 events are planned in the run-up to the Summit and Republic Day not just in Delhi but also in other states. While an inter-faith meet is planned in Rajgir between January 11and 13; Hyderabad will host ASEAN India Hackathon and Startup Festival between January 13 and 17; India-ASEAN Students exchange programme across five Indian cities.