New Delhi, December 31 (newsin.asia): All ten leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) will be chief guests at the Indian Republic Day celebrations on January 26, 2018, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here on Sunday.
In his Man ki Baat address to the nation over All India Radio, Modi said that ASEAN leaders from ten countries, namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam will the Chief Guests at the function.
When he assumed office as Prime Minister after sweeping the Indian parliamentary elections in May 2014, Modi invited heads of government of all the SAARC countries, signifying his “Neighborhood First” policy.
But his “Neighborhood First” has not been much of a success given the growing strategic, military and economic influence of China in South Asia since 2014.
Modi has also had a “Look East” policy which involves closer interaction with South East Asian and East Asian countries including Japan but excluding China. One of the key components of the “Look East” policy is closer economic integration with ASEAN.
It is in pursuit of ASEAN, that Modi had invited its heads of government for the Republic Day celebrations on January 26, 2018. The celebrations include a military parade, multi-cultural showcasing and the Beating Retreat ceremony in the evening which displays military bands playing Indian martial music.
Further Concessions to Muslim Women
Continuing his crusade to liberate Indian Muslim women from oppressive religious laws, Modi announced that from now on, Muslim women need not have a male escort to perform the Haj or pilgrimage to Mecca.
“It had come to our notice that if a Muslim woman wants to go on Haj, she must have a ‘Mehram’ or a male guardian, otherwise she cannot travel. It is s discriminatory. We have changed this rule, and this year around 1300 women applied to go without a male guardian,” Modi said in the Man ki Baat program.
Earlier this week, the Indian parliament’s Lower House passed a bill to outlaw “Triple Talaq” which allows a man to divorce his wife by uttering “talaq” thrice. The punishment for divorcing a wife this way is three year’ in jail. It will also be a non-bailable offence.