India had cordial relations with ASEAN countries— Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore till the mid 1960s. There was some disruption during the Cold War when ASEAN supported America’s war against Vietnam.

After the Cold War (especially after India’s improved relations with the US and China) India and ASEAN have moved closer. India is now in a position to offer investments in IT and pharma technologies to ASEAN.

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Moreover, Japan, ASEAN, China, India and South Korea (JACIK) are working on a free trade arrangement in the framework of ASEAN + 1.

A research at RIS showed that JACIK has 14 of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies with half the world’s population (3 billion) and a GNP of over $ 7.2 trillion and combined official reserves of about $ 800 million- more than that of EU and the US put together.

There are now 14 non-ASEAN members in the ARF besides the ten ASEAN members. The member countries of ARF are Australia, Brunei, Canada, China, EU, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, South Korea, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, US, Vietnam, all of which joined ARF in 1994; Cambodia joined in 1995; India and Myanmar in 1996; Mongolia in 1999; North Korea in 2000; and Pakistan in 2004.

Aims and Purposes:

As set out in the ASEAN Declaration, the aims and purposes of ASEAN are:

1. To accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavors in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian Nations;

2. To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries of the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter;

3. To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, cultural, technical, scientific and administrative fields;

4. To provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities in the educational, professional, technical and administrative spheres;

5. To collaborate more effectively for the greater utilization of their agriculture and industries, the expansion of their trade, including the study of the problems of international commodity trade, the improvement of their transportation and communications facilities and the raising of the living standards of their peoples;

6. To promote Southeast Asian studies; and

7. To maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organisations with similar aims and purposes, and explore all avenues for even closer cooperation among themselves.