ASEAN-India: Building Youth Partnerships through Culture and Entrepreneurship
January 8, 2015
The Ministry of External Affairs India, in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), hosted the seventh ASEAN-India Students Exchange Program last Nov. 9-18, 2014. The program was highlight by a tour of 250 students from the 10 ASEAN countries of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. (Danica Panelo, policy researcher from CenPEG, was part of the Philippine delegation.) The tour included economic, cultural, historical, leadership and academic components to enable ASEAN students to learn more about the modern vibrant India. The Program also focused on building closer entrepreneurship partnerships among the youth of both sides, emphasizing business and academic exchanges in the knowledge and creative industry sectors.
The program was conceived in 2007 by Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, as a familiarization tool to build greater economic and cultural understanding between the two dynamic Asian regions. It invites young graduate and post-graduate students from the 10 ASEAN member nations with academic interest on India. There have been six such visits so far and the previous ASEAN-India Students Exchange Programs have enriched the knowledge of the participants, providing them with new insights on the vast diversity of India’s people and cultures as well as a glimpse into the way the country manages variegated issues.
During last November’s 10-day program, the participants traveled to Mumbai, Hyderabad, Agra, and New Delhi. The ASEAN students were acquainted with India’s flourishing knowledge and creative industries through visits to film studios (Whistling Woods International), IT and software companies (Wipro), financial sector institutions (National Stock Exchange of India), science and technology centers (Godrej, Larsen & Toubro, Tata, Sandhar and the CII-Green Business Center), as well as institutions of academic excellence in business and entrepreneurship (IES Management College and the Indian School of Business).
The students also interacted with senior Indian state officials from the Election Commission of India and the Foreign Service Institute – Ministry of External Affairs. They were even encouraged to ask questions and raise concerns about India’s electoral system and diplomatic relations with the ASEAN member nations, as well as share their knowledge on the political affairs of their home countries. Moreover, the participants visited the embassies of their homelands in order to know more about the economic and political cooperation agreements between India and their respective countries.
The tours also included visits to major tourist attractions that featured traditional arts and crafts such as the Shiparamam Craft Village, Dilli Haat, Golconda Fort, Gateway to India, and the Taj Mahal. Concluding the exchange program, a cultural night was held in which the students showcased their national costumes and dances so as to highlight the historical and cultural symbiosis between the civilizations of India and the ASEAN member nations. The participants were also asked to share their thoughts and suggestions on the technical arrangements, visits, and discussions covered during the 10-day event. In response, the organizers expressed their gratitude and made a promise to incorporate their feedback in order to improve future ASEAN-India Students Exchange Programs.