India will witness a highly symbolic spectacle during its Republic Day parade on Friday morning, according to the Financial Times. Whereas the procession of military hardware, dancing troupes and cheesy floats is usually overseen by one foreign “chief guest,” this year it will be viewed by 10: the leaders of the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
New Delhi is seeking to deepen ties with ASEAN to counter China’s growing influence in the region, the FT claims. “India does not want an Asia that is dominated by China,” Dhruva Jaishankar, a fellow at Brookings India, told the paper. “And a big part of where that will be determined is Southeast Asia.”
India’s overtures may be welcomed by many within ASEAN, where there is widespread uneasiness about China’s growing military and economic clout. “What [Southeast Asian countries] are seeking – and have – in India is a partner that stands up for a rules-based international order, and that’s particularly important in the maritime space,” said Alyssa Ayres, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations.