The ASEAN Summit 2018 in the national capital is expected to be gala affair with special programmes lined up for the three-day meet. As per The Indian Express, Indian is planning a grand show for the 10 ASEAN leaders from January 24-26.
A much-awaited feature of the summit is the Ramayana festival which has been curated by top artists. As per IE, this was an idea suggested by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the ASEAN-India summit in Manila in November last year as he held the epic as a potent symbol of integration of the South East Asian region with India. New Delhi is working with embassies of the 10 ASEAN countries to organise the Ramayana Festival, which will showcase the cultural interpretations of Ramayana across the ASEAN countries and India. “The similarities of mudra (hand gestures) in our dance forms across ASEAN and India will also be showcased during this festival,” said officials, adding that it will be held in the capital’s Kamani Auditorium.
The leaders will release a commemorative Ramayana postage stamp on the occasion. And more so, the leaders will be given the choice of wearing Khadi jackets for either the leaders’ retreat or the gala dinner which will be held after the plenary session on January 25. The government is also planning to have a marching contigent from ITBP which guards the Indo-Sino border. The focus will be on display of India’s naval prowess, since maritime security is an integral component of New Delhi’s engagement with the ASEAN countries. There may be a tableaux from the North-East states, which act as the land bridge with ASEAN countries. According to IE, at least six of the leaders are expected to be accompanied by their spouses, a separate programme is also being worked out for the latter, including visits to some tourist spots, crafts’ village or handicraft centres in the capital.
Meanwhile, counter-terrorism, security and trade is expected to top the agenda at the India-ASEAN Summit that will see participation of leaders of all the ten ASEAN countries, who in an unprecedented event will also be the chief guests at the Republic Day parade. The highest-level of participation at the summit on January 25, to mark the 25 years of Indo-ASEAN ties, comes in the backdrop of increasing Chinese economic and military assertiveness in the region. Some experts feel that the meet can be an opportunity for India to present itself as a powerful ally to these countries in the strategic areas of trade and connectivity.