The 4th ASEAN-India Youth Summit was organised by India Foundation on 12-16 February 2023, in Hyderabad, Telangana, India. The Youth Summit, organised in collaboration with Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and the ASEAN Foundation, was themed on “Strengthening ASEAN-India Partnership in the Indo-Pacific”.
India and ASEAN have emerged as rising Asian powers in the new millennium with fast-growing economies. Their formidable demographic dividend and a population commanding a considerably high purchasing power have given to this region an immense potential for growth-centric mutual cooperation. With this in mind, the Youth Summit plays a significant role in bringing together the potential future leaders in various fields from India and the ASEAN countries, to discuss and deliberate upon policies and contemporary issues, and to develop higher levels of understanding of each other’s culture, politics, societies, traditions and concerns. This initiative of getting together youth leaders from ASEAN and India on a common platform started in August 2017 when the First ASEAN-India Youth Summit was in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. This was followed up in February 2019 in Guwahati, Assam, where the Second edition of the Youth Summit was held. The 3rd edition of Youth Summit was organised virtually in June 2020 during pandemic time.
The ASEAN-India Youth Summit, being a confluence of youth leaders from India and the ten ASEAN countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – leads to a shared understanding of the challenges we face and the actions that we need to take to restore and nourish connectivity in all dimensions within the region. In the 4th ASEAN-India Youth Summit, 75 promising young leaders from India and 100 young leaders from ASEAN got an opportunity to participate in brainstorming sessions over the course of four days. The participants represented some of the largest institutions in their respective countries including political parties, think-tanks, media and cultural organisations. The discussions in various sessions at the Youth Summit highlighted the importance of strengthening ASEAN-India connectivity partnership in the Indo-Pacific and finding ways to further enhancing physical and digital connectivity cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Organising Committee of the 4th ASEAN-India Youth Summit was Chaired by Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs and Education, Govt of India. The Inaugural Session of Youth Summit was addressed by Shri G. Kishan Reddy, Hon’ble Minister of Culture, Govt of India and Dr Kao Kim Hourn, Secretary General, ASEAN (Virtual Address). Shri G. Kishan Reddy also hosted a dinner for all the delegates on the inaugural day. This was preceded by a cultural performance by the Tetseo Sisters from Nagaland.
Panel Discussions in the Youth Summit covered various issues like Connectivity, Digital Partnership, Good Governance & Regional Development and Shared Cultural Ethos & Promotion of People to People to ties. The delegates in the Youth Summit were divided into small groups for focussed group discussion on topics like Governance & Polity, Cultural & Historical linkages and Entrepreneurship & Skill Development. As part of the experiential learning, Young Delegates were taken to places like Charminar, Shilparamam, T-Hub in Hi-Tech City, Buddha Statue etc.
The valedictory session of the 4th ASEAN-India Youth Summit, held on February 14, 2023, was graced by Smt. Tamilisai Soundararajan, Hon’ble Governor of Telangana & Lt. Governor of Puducherry, and by Shri Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Hon’ble Union Minister of State, Ministry of External Affairs & Education, Government of India. Mr. Alvin Tan, Hon’ble Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore joined the session virtually. The Welcome Remarks were delivered by Shri Alok Bansal, Director, India Foundation.
Mr. Alvin Tan highlighted how the future of the world rests in the hands of young people and it is thus essential that we continue to work together to support and empower them. He mentioned that innovation and entrepreneurship is a way to forge a better future for the progress of Indo-Pacific region. He urged young people to lead social initiatives to address regional challenges such as climate change and sustainable development. Opportunities such as these would help the future generation to gain new perspectives, broaden their horizons and improve understanding of culture beyond the borders of their countries.
In his address, Shri Rajkumar Ranjan Singh stated that ASEAN-India relations form the central pillar of India’s Act East Policy. He noted that both India and ASEAN shared a similar vision of the Indo-Pacific. Emphasising on the need for connectivity, he observed that connectivity in its broadest sense, whether physical or digital, was one of the most important aspects of India-ASEAN development. India and ASEAN have a robust digital relationship and are already working towards a shared digital transformation. The youth of both the countries are eager to contribute to the development of the entire region.
Addressing all the dignitaries and delegates present, the Hon’ble Governor stated that summits like the 4th ASEAN-India Youth Summit played an important role in enhancing the relationships across the region. She described ASEAN as “Ambitious, Sincere, Effective & Efficient, Aspirational New Generation”. India and ASEAN could work on common areas such as political security, economics and cultural and social relationships. Mentioning the difficulties of the period of Covid pandemic, she stated that the period showed how digitisation could become a lifeline of communication. Through the combined efforts of various groups, we could successfully overcome the pandemic. Addressing the youth delegates, she also observed that youngsters are the pillars of the future and the nation, and advised them not to compromise their happiness for anything as it is only by being happy that challenges can be overcome. She hoped that such summits would pave the way for an ASEAN-India Youth Network to help strengthen the entire region and bring all the nations together to face challenges. This would ensure a safer, secure, peaceful and prosperous world for the future generations.