Over the years, Vietnam has emerged as a significant player in India’s foreign policy projection—a partner in sub-regional, regional, and multilateral fora. It is an integral member of ASEAN and plays an important role in India’s Act East policy. The elevation of the Strategic Partnership between the two countries to that of ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ is a clear indication of the goodwill, trust and importance the two countries place on their
relationship. It is also an acknowledgment of the existing strong bilateral defense and security ties and our mutual desire to contribute to regional peace, stability, cooperation and prosperity. Moving beyond the ideological linkages, both countries have endeavoured to revamp their relations in the changing geo-politics of the Indo-Pacific.
From ‘Strategic Partnership’ in 2007 to a ‘Comprehensive Partnership’ in 2016, the two countries have built up synergies for deeper cooperation between them. These have been envisaged in a multi-faceted and a multi-sectoral cooperation on a wide range of issues covering political, defense and security relations; trade and commerce; energy cooperation; science and technology; capacity building; connectivity links; health, education, culture, tourism and people to people exchange; and cooperation in international, regional and sub-regional forums.
From the strategic lens, Vietnam’s geographical location in Asia Pacific has added to its geo-political importance for the regional players like China, India, Australia and Japan and also for the external powers like the United States and its rebalancing strategy in the Asia-Pacific. In the changing architecture of the Indo-Pacific, Vietnam emerges as a significant actor shaping the ‘Great Game’ politics in the Indo-Pacific.
Vietnam is looking to multiple partners in Asia and beyond. India has been of very special strategic interest to Vietnam. Over the years, New Delhi has gradually expanded its defence and naval cooperation with Vietnam and assisted in its urgent effort at modernizing the military force. Internal synergies between – India and Vietnam have also played a significant role in bringing the two countries on the same page building upon mutual trust and cooperation over the years. Given the cultural-religious linkages, based on their closer association with the historical kingdoms and the impact of Buddhist philosophy to the anti-imperialist struggle during the colonial rule and foreign intervention during the Second World War and thereafter, both the countries have developed closer ties and a shared destiny based on a shared world view. In the context of geo-strategic paradigm and the forces shaping the internal dynamics of Vietnam, its foreign policy orientations vis-à-vis the ‘Great Powers’ in the region and its engagement with India is a critical area of concern.
In this background, the Centre for Vietnam Studies, New Delhi seeks to provide a platform for all the scholars in India to engage on the past, present and future of India-Vietnam relations. Although initially launched as a Centre, it is expected to grow and evolve as a major interactive research forum for sharing ideas and exchange of scholars between India and Vietnam, organizing lectures, panel discussions, workshops, conferences and associate emerging scholars working on India-Vietnam relations. The Centre envisages active association of all the stakeholders for mutual exchange of ideas and dissemination of information about the archetypical relationship between India and Vietnam encompassing centuries and beyond.