Ties that bind – 75 years of Thai-Indian relations

The logo commemorating the 75th anniversary of Thai-Indian ties is highly symbolic. On the left is the Thai Pha Khao Ma (the Thai style sarong or longyi) interwoven with the sari, the traditional fabric of India on the right. Together, they symbolize the bonds that unite and grow stronger day by day. Let’s not forget that in 1947, Thailand was one of the first countries to establish formal ties with India.

India has been one of the cradles of Southeast Asian civilization since ancient times and the ties continue to this day. Thailand has received cultural and traditional inspiration from India for at least two thousand years. Indeed, the Thai greeting “Sawasdee” comes from Sanskrit. In fact, there is a bit of India in every nook and cranny of this country. Take a look and enjoy.

The celebration comes at a time when the global environment is disrupted by war and aggression. Therefore, it is imperative that both parties do not add fuel to the fire. Thailand and India share common visions of ‘Santhi’ or ‘peace’, which would benefit all humanity. This helps explain why the two countries, in their own way, are trying to find ways to reduce or put out the fires looming elsewhere. Together they can act as a pendulum in the Indo-Pacific region.

Interestingly, the two countries have no historical baggage to hinder their cooperation. Bilateral relations over the past seven decades have been close and fair. It is now a question of revitalizing this trajectory in all respects.

Going forward, the two countries can do much more in their traditional areas of cooperation to promote trade, investment, connectivity, tourism and people-to-people exchanges. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, nearly one million Indian tourists visited Thailand every year, bringing considerable revenue to the country. It is time for the Thai government to facilitate Indian visitors here, especially those who wish to come and mark special occasions such as weddings, birthdays and other celebrations.

Thailand and India are peace-loving countries, which have maintained free and independent foreign policies without choosing sides. Given the dramatic evolution of the international security landscape, however, it is necessary for the two countries to strengthen strategic and security cooperation aimed at third parties. There has been good maritime cooperation in the past, but there should be more as they share common borders in the Andaman Sea. It is in their mutual interest to ensure maritime safety and security.

In the months and years to come, the two countries must redouble their cooperation in the multilateral fields. Thailand has already taken over the chairmanship of the Bay of Bengal Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or BIMSTEC, which could be a major economic driver for South Asian countries. They can also work within the framework of ASEAN-India relations, as well as Mekong-Ganga cooperation.

Thailand and India have already released their new economic models to promote balanced and sustainable development. This will serve as added value for future relationships.

By Thai PBS World’s Foreign Desk