For the first time ever, in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the Ministry of Education organised an ASEAN-India Hackathon earlier this month. The main aim of this was to promote youth cooperation and digital connectivity between the youth of India and ASEAN member countries.
The main themes of the programme were — ‘Blue Economy’ and ‘Education’. For India cooperation in the maritime domain is a priority under the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership. And for this, development of coastal infrastructure, protection of marine ecosystems, sustainable harnessing of marine resources is of critical importance. For both ASEAN and India the focus is also on providing sustained and gainful livelihoods to coastal communities.
The four day Hackathon from February 1-4, 2021 implemented by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) implemented, was supported by nodal agencies from all ten ASEAN countries, which included their Education Ministries and prominent universities.
“A hackathon is an excellent means to inculcate cooperative spirit among the participants and to expose them to diverse viewpoints, cultures and work ethics cutting across national boundaries,” said external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar at the award ceremony at the end of the programme.
While underlining the importance of youth cooperation, he mentioned that ASEAN-India Youth Cooperation is a key component of ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership.
In his address Dr Jaishankar commended the choice of ‘Blue Economy’ and ‘Education’ as the two themes and mentioned, “Weaving together of two priority areas of cooperation into problem statements provides added relevance to this Hackathon.” Adding, “Education is also a central element of Strategic Partnership with ASEAN recognising the role it plays in effectively and constructively channelizing the energy of our youth.”
The Hackathon was inaugurated by Minister of Education Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ along with other top dignitaries from India and ASEAN. From MEA, Secretary (East) Ms Riva Ganguly Das addressed the participants on the occasion.
In her address, Secretary (East), Ms Das talked about channelizing the youthful energies of 700 million in the age bracket of 15 to 35 years large and diverse groups and to harness their potential in a constructive manner which is a challenging task.
For almost 36 hours, 330 students and 90 mentors from the 10 ASEAN countries including: Brunei, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam; and India worked together online. And they competed as 54 teams to come up with innovative solutions to 11 problem statements – which covered two main themes including Blue economy and education.
What was the idea behind such a programme?
It was meant to forge collaborative spirit, to expose the participants to get acquainted with values, work ethics and diverse cultures.
And is in line with the vision of ASEAN – plan of action on science, technology and innovation (APASTI) 2016-2025.
The Hackathon promoted learning, understanding, and cooperation. And, also fostered a strong sense of ASEAN-India community among the youth and to become responsible stakeholders in the regional and global growth they were provided the necessary skill-sets.
What are the other programmes India has for ASEAN?
There are Special Courses for Young ASEAN Diplomats, Exchange Programmes for Young Farmers’, Media Exchange Programmes, Programmes for Young Parliamentarians.
With a budget outlay of USD 45 million, there is a grant of 1000 PhD Fellowships to ASEAN students at the country’s most prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).