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Govt, ASEAN in talks to take IMT highway up to Vietnam

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) highway, ASEAN

Mains level: Various regional connectivity agreements involving India and their current status


IMT highway to be extended

  1. The government is in talks with ASEAN countries to extend the India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) highway up to Vietnam
  2. India and ASEAN countries are holding consultations on the extension of the 1,360 km IMT highway — from Moreh in India to Mae-Sot in Thailand — to Laos, Cambodia and to Vietnam

Other such agreements

  1. Another area on which the government is working to connect India with South East Asia is the IMT Motor Vehicle Agreement (IMT MVA)
  2. India, Myanmar and Thailand in 2014 commenced negotiations for finalising and implementing the IMT Motor Vehicle Agreement (IMT MVA)

Benefits of connectivity

  1. Connectivity can generate annually, an estimated USD 70 billion in incremental GDP and 20 million in incremental aggregate employment by 2025
  2. Connecting India with the Southeastern countries through a network of road will create jobs, market for crops grown in hilly regions of the Northeast which will also help growers in getting better price for their produce


Know about ASEAN here

[op-ed snap] The ASEAN outreach

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ASEAN

Mains level: These topics are specially mentioned in the mains syllabus



  1. The article talks about the importance of relationship between India and ASEAN

Important meetings attended by the Indian Prime Minister

  1. The Philippines has been the centre of attraction for the last few days with Manila hosting
    (1) the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India
    (2) East Asia summits as well as special celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of ASEAN
    (3) the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) leaders’ meeting
    (4) the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit
  2. Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined these meetings
  3. And underscored India’s commitment to deepening ties with the ASEAN member states and the wider Indo-Pacific region as part of the ‘Act East’ policy

Importance of the Indo-Pacific region

  1. The Indo-Pacific region is now central to global politics and economics and recent days have merely reinforced the trends that have been emerging for some time
  2. China is the most important player in the region
  3. And as Chinese President Xi Jinping made clear in his speech at the recent Communist Party Congress, Beijing is now more confident than ever of projecting regional and global power
  4. In this, China has had the good fortune of having an administration in the U.S. that lacks seriousness of purpose and is unable to communicate effectively its priorities for the region
  5. Opportunity for India: This makes this period of transition very significant for countries like India that have a stake in the long-term stability of the region
  6. As China’s profile grows, and the U.S. continues to be unsure of its security commitments, there is a new opportunity for India in the region

Symbolic move by India

  1. In a symbolic move, all 10 ASEAN heads of state have been invited to be guests of honour for next year’s Republic Day function

Different strategy adopted by India

  1. On the one hand, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being resurrected without the U.S.
  2. And on the other, the idea of an Indo-Pacific quadrilateral involving Japan, Australia, India and the U.S. is back
  3. Unlike in the past, India is no longer diffident about engaging with other regional players if it helps to further Indian interests in maintaining a stable balance of power in region

Importance of ASEAN for India

  1. ASEAN is currently India’s fourth largest trading partner, accounting for 10.2% of India’s total trade
  2. India is ASEAN’s seventh largest trading partner
  3. India’s service-oriented economy perfectly complements the manufacturing-based economies of ASEAN countries
  4. There is, however, considerable scope for further growth

The way forward

  1. India needs to do a more convincing job as a beneficial strategic partner of ASEAN by boosting its domestic economic reforms agenda, enhancing connectivity within the region, and increasing its presence in regional institutions
  2. The ASEAN nations should be clearer and more specific in their expectations from New Delhi and nudge India for a deeper, more broad-based engagement
  3. There is much at stake for both sides


Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN)

  1. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a regional intergovernmental organisation comprising ten Southeast Asian states which promotes Pan-Asianism and intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, military, educational and cultural integration amongst its members and Asian states
  2. Since its formation on 8 August 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, the organisation’s membership has expanded to include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam
  3. Its principal aims include accelerating economic growth, social progress, and sociocultural evolution among its members, alongside the protection of regional stability and the provision of a mechanism for member countries to resolve differences peacefully
  4. ASEAN is an official United Nations Observer
  5. Communication by members across nations takes place in English

Post-Doklam, India asserts itself in China’s backyard

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ASEAN, East Asia summit, Doklam issue, South China Sea, UN laws of the seas (UNCLOS)

Mains level: India’s rising stature in world affairs


Convergence of interests with the new quadrilateral grouping

  1. Displaying convergence of interests with the new quadrilateral grouping with U.S., Japan, and Australia, India reached out to China’s backyard
  2. It addressed an array of issues ranging from the tension in the Korean peninsula to freedom of navigation and sought a crackdown on chemical weapons during the ASEAN and the East Asia summits

India emerges as a more dependable partner for South-East Asia

  1. Following the Doklam faceoff with China, India has emerged as a more dependable partner for South-East Asia
  2. South-East Asian countries expect New Delhi to be assertive with Beijing
  3. Outcome of the Doklam crisis has shown that India has reached a stage where it can be a resilient strategic and defense partner for them
  4. Southeast Asian region had been facing uncertainties following the exit of President Barack Obama as he took visible interest in the region

Fundamental change in India’s foreign affairs

  1. India is now embracing the big-ticket issues of East Asia like the North Korean nuclear crisis as well
  2. PM Modi shared concerns of DPRK’s pursuit of missiles and nuclear weapons and called for complete verification and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula
  3. He also said that North Korea’s proliferation links must be investigated and the parties who have supported these unlawful programmes must be made accountable
  4. Taking up of North Korean threats was part of a new Indian set of concerns that also covers major global issues like terrorism by the Islamic State and its capability to inflict mass casualties, and tensions in the South China Sea that concern the world as well as India

India’s stand on the South China Sea

  1. India remains concerned about China’s man-made structures in the South China Sea that are likely to create navigational problems and international friction
  2. The situation in the South China Sea also featured in the statement of PM Modi in the ASEAN who asked for upholding of the ‘rules-based regional security architecture’, an expression often described to refer to China’s opposition to adhere to the UN laws of the seas (UNCLOS)

India wants total ban on chemical weapons

  1. India also pushed for a total ban on chemical weapons in the region and for an end to terrorist financing
  2. The agreements on terror financing, chemical weapons and de-radicalization adopted at the East Asia Summit will help the region cope with the threat of terrorism effectively in future

India, Philippines ink deals on defence, agriculture


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ASEAN, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

Mains level: The article talks about the deals signed by India and Philippines



  1. The PM Modi’s visit to the Philippines is the first bilateral visit by an Indian PM to this Southeast Asian nation in 36 years after the visit of the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1981, though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited the Philippines in 2007 for the ASEAN summit
  2. Four agreements were signed by the two countries on the sidelines of this visit

Agreements signed between the two countries

  1. Four agreements were signed between the two countries, which covered areas of defense, agriculture, small and medium enterprises and a tie-up between think-tanks
  2. The Philippines is also committed to improving the public health system and wants Indian infrastructure companies to pitch in his flagship “build, build and build programme
  3. The idea is to have private and public enterprises to cooperate in the defense sector, including on the off-shore patrolling vessels

Other highlights of the visit

  1. The Indian PM contributed two Indian rice seed varieties to the gene bank of the international rice research center in the Philippines which he said is working towards mitigating global poverty and hunger by improving the cultivation of the key grain
  2. He also visited the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and interacted with several Indian scientists working there
  3. A number of scientists at IRRI briefed the PM on flood-tolerant rice varieties which, they said, can withstand 14-18 days of submergence and provide 1-3 tonnes more yield per hectare in flood-affected areas

India marks big shift in trade policy

  1. What? India has outlined higher level of commitment to liberalize investment and services for the members of RCEP
  2. This marks a significant shift in its trade policy & could become a template for future bilateral treaties
  3. India has accepted ratchet and most-favoured nation-forward (MFN-forward) clauses
  4. But India will, in turn, impose conditions on RCEP members for accepting these clauses
  5. However, India has not made any commitments on multi-brand retail nor in according national treatment before investors set up shop in the country

ASEAN Plus Multinational Field Training Exercise ‘Ex Force 18’

  1. News: Multinational Field Training Exercise (FTX) – Exercise FORCE 18, involving ASEAN Plus countries commenced at Pune
  2. Context: This is the largest Ground Forces Exercise ever conducted on Indian soil and would be conducted from 02 to 08 March 2016
  3. Theme: ‘Humanitarian Mine Action’ and ‘Peacekeeping Operations’
  4. First phase: 28 foreign trainers were trained by Indian Army, these trainers will form the training backbone for the conduct of ‘Exercise FORCE 18’
  5. Foreign participants witnessed martial skills performed by the Indian Army, including Drill by soldiers from the Mechanised Infantry Regimental Centre

Learn about ASEAN Regional Forum?

  1. Background: Twenty-Sixth ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Post Ministerial Conference, which were held in Singapore in 1993, agreed to establish the ASEAN Regional Forum
  2. Objectives: To foster constructive dialogue and consultation on political and security issues of common interest and concern
  3. To make significant contributions to efforts towards confidence-building and preventive diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region

ASEAN to ease travel, mobility of labour

The leaders endorsed “ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together,” which charts the path for community building over the next 10 years.

  1. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was proclaimed a community through a declaration signed by the ASEAN leaders at its 27th Summit.
  2. The focus of ASEAN 2025 will be on strengthening the community on political, economic and socio-cultural fronts.
  3. While the Political-Security Community aims at maintaining the association’s centrality in regional mechanisms.
  4. The Socio-Cultural Community will focus on promoting a high quality life and equitable access to opportunities for all.
  5. The ASEAN Economic Community will focus on business-friendly, trade-facilitative and market-driven economy to inspire investor confidence.

Why East Asia Summit (EAS)?

Established in 2005, EAS allows the principal players in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss issues of common interest.

  1. East Asia Summit is a unique Leaders-led forum of 18 countries of the Asia-Pacific region.
  2. Formed with objectives of regional peace, security and prosperity.
  3. EAS is an initiative of ASEAN and is based on the premise of the centrality of ASEAN.
  4. The membership of EAS consists of ten ASEAN Member States and Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation and the USA.

Give no shelter to terrorists: PM Modi

  1. Prime Minister says the world is coming together to use “force” to fight the menace.
  2. PM Narendra Modi suggested a multi-pronged approach for combating international terrorism.
  3. Making an intervention at the East Asia Summit (EAS).
  4. He emphasised the need for building a new global resolve and new strategies for combating terrorism, without balancing them against political considerations.
  5. He said, terror was the biggest problem faced by the world today and stressed the need for delinking religion from terror.

Let’s dive into ASEAN ?

  1. ASEAN was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration).
  2. By the Founding Fathers of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
  3. Aims at accelerating economic growth, social progress, and sociocultural evolution among its members, protection of regional peace and stability.
  4. India is the sixth largest trade partner for ASEAN.
  5. Negotiations on a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement expected to be concluded in 2016.

ASEAN-India Summit: Terrorism, trade, sea dispute to be top agenda

ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is India’s fourth largest trading partner.

  1. Terrorism, trade and South China Sea dispute are expected to dominate discussions at the 13th ASEAN-India Summit
  2. The 10 member grouping will review the new Plan of Action (2016-2020).
  3. To further enhance ASEAN-India cooperation along politico- security, economic and socio-cultural pillars.
  4. India and ASEAN have 30 dialogue mechanisms including a Summit and 7 Ministerial meetings with various ministries.
  5. Trade between India and ASEAN stood at USD 76.52 billion in 2014-15.

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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