Amid Pandemic, India And ASEAN Boost Cooperation In Education, Skill Development During Youth Dialogue 2020

The third India-ASEAN youth dialogue took place online on June 8 to 10, revolving around the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Thursday enhanced cooperation in effectively and constructively channelising the youthful energy, education and skill development that have been identified as the central elements of the strategic partnership between the two sides.

The third India-ASEAN youth dialogue took place online on June 8 to 10, revolving around the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The dialogue acknowledged that the revival and re-establishment of Nalanda University in Bihar as a seat of learning is a big step in this direction. The university offers several scholarship programmes for the ASEAN students for various courses.

One of the major achievements on the education front was the launching of 1,000 PhD fellowships for ASEAN students at the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), last year. It was an announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 25th anniversary of ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit.

Besides, India also provides more than 1000 scholarships to students from the ASEAN countries under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) and Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) frameworks.

An ASEAN-India University Network is also on the anvil to forge collaborations between the universities and educational institutes from the two sides.

During the dialogue, India also lauded the efforts of the youth who are also playing a lead role in the fight against the pandemic. The current disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic comes with not only burdens and responsibilities but also opportunities that should be seized by both the youth of India and ASEAN member countries, it said.

India and ASEAN have some of the largest youth populations in the world. With about 65 per cent of its population below the age of 35 years, India has the largest number of young people in the world -- more than 450 million people are in the age group of 15-35 years. ASEAN region is also witnessing the largest ever population of the young with about 213 million people currently in the age bracket of 15-34 years. This number is poised to grow further and peak at 220 million.

ASEAN is central to India's 'Act East' Policy and the relationship between the two sides has gone well beyond its economic and even cultural dimensions.

The dialogue also complemented other on-going youth-centric initiatives as well. More than 2,500 ASEAN youth have been engaged under the student exchange programmes over the past decade, some of them namely: Special Courses for Young ASEAN Diplomats, Exchange Programmes for Young Farmers', Media Exchange Programmes and Programmes for Young Parliamentarians.

The previous two ASEAN-India Youth summits held in 2017 and 2019, provided a platform for the youth from ASEAN and India to come together and hold constructive and meaningful discussions. "The current ASEAN-India Dialogue serves to take forward this legacy," the Ministry of External Affairs said. 


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