Opening the ASEAN agenda with external partner in 2018, ASEAN-India Center (AIC) and Indian Mission to ASEAN in cooperation with The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) held the 5th Roundtable of ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Jakarta. This two-day event, 6-7 January 2018, is an important gathering of academics that discusses strategic issues. A timely event held weeks before the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit celebrated 25 years of relation between the two partners.
In his welcoming remarks, Indian Mission to ASEAN, Ambassador Suresh Reddy expected that the exchange of views among scholars would give valuable policy inputs for the governments of ASEAN member states and India. This event was also opened by H.E. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India and H.E. Retno Marsudi, Foreign Minister of Indonesia, and H.E. Lim Jock Hoi, the newly appointed ASEAN Secretary General. An important thread from those remarks touched upon ASEAN and India’s support to each other’s view on regional growth in many sectors and to enhance the cooperation between both.
In the main session five panels discussed range of issues from maritime security, services and trade, cultural heritage, education and future cooperation. Each panel had four to five presenters that came from various institutions and universities in ASEAN and India. From LIPI, there were two panelists, Dr. Tri Nuke Pudjiastuti who presented Andaman Sea Crisis and maritime security cooperation in ASEAN and Dr. Agus Eko Nugroho that brought the topic of Indonesian Development and Future Cooperation with ASEAN and India.
Within each panel significant amount of time was reserved for open discussion. From these panels, it could be seen that although ASEAN and India have been developing their partnership for a quarter century, there are still many underdeveloped topics and opportunities. For example, the view that India is culturally “far and different” from ASEAN member states was challenged by the similarity of culture and linkage of history they both have.
At the end of this roundtable, the chairman of LIPI, Prof. Dr. Bambang Subiyanto also gave a special address that highlights the importance of this event to ASEAN-India relations. Prof. Subiyanto also underlined the existence of ASEAN Research Team from Center for Political Studies LIPI that has been actively involved in research and policymaking regarding ASEAN. He also mentioned LIPI’s role as the focal point for ASEAN COST in Indonesia. (Khanisa)