India-Vietnam Relations – Historical Background and Overview | UPSC Notes

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India-Vietnam Relations - Historical Background and Overview | UPSC Notes

• India and Vietnam have always had good relations because they both fought against colonial rule and for freedom. India calls Mahatma Gandhi the Father of the Nation, and Vietnam calls Ho Chi Minh the Father of the Nation. Both Gandhi and Minh led their countries’ brave fights against colonialism.

• Jawaharlal Nehru was one of the first people to visit Vietnam after the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. In February 1958, President Ho Chi Minh went to India. President Rajendra Prasad visited Vietnam in 1959. Vietnam is a very important South East Asian partner.

• India and Vietnam work together closely in the UN, the WTO, the East Asia Summit, the Mekong Ganga Cooperation, and the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM).

• India was the head of the International Commission for Supervision and Control (ICSC), which was set up by the Geneva Accord of 1954 to help make peace in Vietnam.

• The Indian Consul General’s office was set up in Hanoi as early as 1956. India had Consulate-level ties with North and South Vietnam when they were still separate countries. On January 7, 1972, India started full diplomatic relations with a unified Vietnam.

• In 1975, India gave Vietnam “Most Favoured Nation” title. In 1978, both countries signed a bilateral trade agreement, and on March 8, 1997, they signed the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA).

• The link got even stronger when India started its “Look East Policy” at the beginning of the 1990s. The goal of this policy was to bring Southeast Asia and East Asia closer together economically and politically.

• During Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s trip to India in July 2007, relations between the two countries were raised to the level of “Strategic Partnership.” During Prime Minister Modi’s trip to Vietnam in 2016, the two countries’ ties were taken to a new level, called a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.”

• Due to COVID travel restrictions, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc held the first-ever India-Vietnam Virtual Summit on December 21, 2020. There, they adopted a historic “Joint Vision for Peace, Prosperity, and People” to guide the future development of bilateral relations. In addition to the Virtual Summit, the two Foreign Ministers also signed a Plan of Action for putting the Joint Vision into action from 2021 to 2023.

• India and Vietnam are both part of the Mekong–Ganga Cooperation. This group was made to help India and Southeast Asian countries get closer together.Vietnam has backed India’s efforts to join the Indo-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and become a regular member of the UN Security Council.

Areas of Cooperation : Strategic Partnership

• India and Vietnam have agreed to strengthen their strategic partnership “in line with India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and the ASEAN’s Outlook on Indo-Pacific to achieve shared security, prosperity, and growth for all in the region.”

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Institutionalized Mechanisms for Bilateral Exchanges

• The Joint Commission Meeting, which is held at the level of Foreign Ministers, and the Foreign Office Consultations (FOCs) and Strategic Dialogue, which are held at the level of Secretaries, make up the bigger framework for cooperation between the two countries in different areas.

• The Defence Secretary meets once a year for a Security Dialogue, and a Joint Committee on Science and Technology meets from time to time.

• In 2012, India and Vietnam set up the Joint Working Group on Educational Exchange.

• The Joint Sub-Commission on Trade between India and Vietnam was set up in 2013.

• After the MoU on IT was signed in September 2016, a Joint Working Group on IT was set up, and its first meeting took place in June 2017.

Economic Cooperation

• Trade and economic ties that help both sides, which have gotten a lot better over the years, especially since the signing of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement.

India knows that Vietnam could be a regional power in Southeast Asia because it has a stable government and strong economic growth. Its growth is even more amazing because it is driven by a record trade surplus, even though global trade is falling apart. A stable market is also guaranteed by the growing middle class. • Vietnam wants India to do more oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea. It has been clear that these areas are well within Vietnam’s economic zone. • India is investing in Vietnam’s development and capacity through quick impact projects (QIP), proposals in the area of water resource management in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

• As “thrust areas,” five key sectors were chosen: garments and textiles, pharmaceuticals, agricultural goods, leather and footwear, and engineering.

• India’s main exports are tools and equipment, seafood, pharmaceuticals, all kinds of cotton, cars, textiles, and so on.

• The main things that are brought in from Vietnam are mobile phones and their parts, computers and computer parts, tools and equipment, and so on.

• During the Financial Year (FY), which ran from April 2020 to March 2021, India and Vietnam traded a total of USD 11.12 billion with each other.

India sends $4.99 billion worth of goods to Vietnam, and India buys $6.12 billion worth of goods from Vietnam.

Defence Cooperation:

• Defence cooperation has become a key part of India and Vietnam’s strategic relationship. Since the two Defence Ministers signed the MoU on Defence Cooperation in November 2009, the relationship has been getting better and better. India is currently giving Vietnamese military troops 50 Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) slots each year.

• Indian ships often stop at Vietnam’s ports to say hello. In February 2016, a Vietnamese ship took part in the International Fleet Review for the first time. It was held in Vishakhapatnam, India.

• On May 21, 2018, India and Vietnam held their first naval drills together in the South China Sea.

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• Vietnam wants to update its military, but India wants to help its South-East Asian allies improve their defences so that they can keep the peace in this vital area.

India’s Akash surface-to-air systems, Dhruv advanced light helicopters, and Brahmos missiles are of interest to Vietnam. The two countries also work together to build up their defence capabilities, deal with common security issues, train their people, and work on defence research and development.

• The Indian Naval Ship INS Kiltan went to Ho Chi Minh City in 2020 on Mission Sagar III to bring flood rescue supplies to the people of Central Vietnam.

It also joined the Vietnam People’s Navy in the PASSEX Exercise.

• The Indian Defence Minister went to Vietnam in June 2022, where he signed some Defence Agreements that will make current defence cooperation much bigger and better.

Both countries’ defence ministers signed the “Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030” to strengthen security cooperation between the two countries.

Defence Line of Credit: The two ministers agreed to finalise the USD 500 million Defence Line of Credit given to Vietnam. The projects that will be done with this money will greatly improve Vietnam’s defence capabilities and help the government reach its goal of “Make in India, Make for the World.”

Both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) about mutual logistics support.

o This is a big step towards making logistics support easier for both countries. It is also the first big deal of this kind that Vietnam has signed with any country.

Simulators and a Financial Grant: India will give two simulators and a financial grant to set up a Language and IT (Information Technology) Lab at the Air Force Officers Training School to help build up the Vietnamese Armed Forces.

China Factor

China continues to boldly move into the land of the two countries.

• Because of this, it makes sense for both countries to get closer in order to stop China from being so aggressive.

Science and Technology

• Science and technology are a big part of how we work together. The MoUs/Agreements signed during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Vietnam in 2016 on Exploration and Use of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes, IT Cooperation, Cyber Security, and the Framework Agreement signed in December 2016 on Uses of Atomic Energy for Peaceful Purposes show how important this area is to our two countries.

• In March 2018, both countries signed deals on agricultural research and an MoU on Cooperation between the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP) and the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute (VINATOM).

Assistance and Capacity Building

• Lines of Credit: India has given Vietnam several Lines of Credit (LoCs) with favourable terms and conditions since 1976.

• Scholarships: Under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) plan, a lot of training programmes have been given to Vietnam.

• ARC-ICT: In September 2011, the External Affairs Minister in Hanoi opened an Advanced Resource Centre for Information and Communications Technology (ARCICT) that cost $2 million.

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• Indira Gandhi High-Tech Crime Laboratory: This project is a Rs. 2 crore grant to help set up a High-Tech Forensic Laboratory in Ha Noi. In November 2013, the MoU for this project was signed.

Cultural Relations

• Buddhist Festival: To celebrate the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and Vietnam and the 10th anniversary of Strategic Partnership, the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha, the Vietnam India Friendship Association (VIFA), and the Embassy of India in Hanoi put on a big four-day “Buddhist Festival – Days of India” in Tay Thien, Tam Dao District, Vinh Phuc Province.

• Native Americans: There are about 2,900 Indians living in Vietnam, and most of them live in HCMC. The Indian Business Chamber (INCHAM) is a group of Indians who live in Vietnam and whose main goal is to help trade and business relationships. The Indian society is full of life, respectful of the law, well-educated, and wealthy. Most of them are workers who work for companies in India and around the world.

People-to-People Contacts

• 2019 was the ASEAN-India Year of Tourism. To encourage travel between the two, both countries have made it easier to get visas.In 2018-19, the Embassy of India held a number of events to honour Mahatma@150. As part of the “India for Humanity” programme of the Indian government, Jaipur artificial limb fitting camps were set up in four provinces of Vietnam, where they helped 1,000 people.

Ways Forward:

• In 2016, an Indian Prime Minister went to Vietnam for the first time in 15 years. This showed that India is no longer afraid to grow its position around China’s borders.

• India’s foreign policy is based on the idea that India will be an anchor for peace, prosperity, and security in Asia and Africa. Getting closer to Vietnam will only help this idea.

• India and Vietnam are both in the middle of the new Indo-Pacific region. This means that they will both play a big part in this strategic space, which is becoming a main place where the big powers compete for power and influence.

• The strategic partnership under the broad India-Vietnam cooperation framework would be important for building the vision laid out in India’s “Act East” policy, which aims to expand engagement that is mutually beneficial and ensures growth for everyone in the region. • Strengthening ties with Vietnam will eventually lead to the realisation of the Indian PM’s SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) initiative.