The Foundation’s first international conference Purbasa: East meets East: Synergising the North-East and Eastern India with the Indo-Pacific was held in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Dr S C Jamir, Hon'ble Governor of Odisha; Sri Dharmendra Pradhan, Hon'ble Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship; Sri C M Patowari, Hon'ble Minister for Industry and Commerce, Assam; and Mr Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Hon'ble Minister of Buddha Sasana, Sustainable Development and Welfare, Sri Lanka participated in the three-day conference.

The conclave also attracted a galaxy of experts – Ministers, MPs, serving and former ambassadors, former military leaders, academics, specialists from think tanks, business CEOs, and representatives of civil society from India and the Indo-Pacific region.

Thirty seven experts and diplomats representing countries of the region and 34 experts from different areas of India formed part of a sizable audience at the inaugural and valedictory sessions, held respectively on 16 and 18 March. The response from and engagement of Odisha’s academics, intellectuals and media was both enthusiastic and substantial. Both sessions heard important messages from the political leadership.

Spread over eight sessions, the conference covered diverse aspects of India's relations with the region, namely i) Economic Cooperation, ii) Maritime Connectivity and Security in the Indo-Pacific, iii-iv) Regional Connectivity (two sessions), v) Connecting Women, Youth and Civil Society, vi) Energy Cooperation, vii) Tourism, Culture, Buddhism, and viii) India's Bilateral Relations with Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Indonesia, Japan, and with ASEAN.

The concept of the conference was delineated in the backdrop of changes in the Indo-Pacific region that faces many possibilities and challenges today. India's East and Northeast have enjoyed a civilisational connect with other countries, both overland and through the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, for centuries. India's Act East Policy has extended the nation’s vision beyond ASEAN to the larger Indo-Pacific region which unifies the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the Western Pacific region into a singular construct. The conference’s raison d’être was to discover answers to a seminal question: how should the relationship between India and countries of the region develop in this period of geopolitical flux in the wider Indo-Pacific?

A conference organised by the Foundation on ‘India-ASEAN Partnership@25’ was held in New Delhi. The conference brought together foreign diplomats, leading analysts and strategic experts and a large number of former Indian envoys. The participation of four Union Ministers, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Dr Jitendra Singh and Shri Kiren Rijiju, elevated the level and added great value to the discussions.

The conference proved to be a major and valuable contribution to celebrations in India of two historic milestones; the 50th anniversary of the establishment of ASEAN and the 25th anniversary of India-ASEAN dialogue partnership. It concluded with a clear message that India and ASEAN nations mean and matter a lot to each other. For India, strengthening relations with ASEAN in all spheres is a priority. For ASEAN, India offers an immense business opportunity; it is also the power that provides regional balance. India’s long-term strategic presence in the ASEAN region is thus mutually beneficial.

The Foundation co-sponsored a conference on ASEAN@50 and INDIA-ASEAN Relations with the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangaluru. Six leading scholars and experts from the Foundation were among the 70 scholars and policy makers who participated in the conclave.

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