Ahead of India's Republic Day celebrations, one individual from each ASEAN country has been chosen for the Padma Shri Award, in an unprecedented move to promote India's ties with the 10-member bloc.
The decision to confer the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian award, on one achiever from each country of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was taken as India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit started in New Delhi on Thursday.
In a first, all the 10 ASEAN leaders will be the chief guests at the Republic Day parade.
"In an unprecedented and symbolic gesture of India ASEAN bonding and on occasion of silver jubilee of India ASEAN partnership and our Republic Day, PM Modi announced Padma Shri award for one individual from each ASEAN country," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
Achievers from ASEAN nations chosen for the Padma Shri are -- Haji Abdullah Bin MalaiHaji Othman of Brunei for medicine; Hun Many of Cambodia for public affairs; Nyoman Nuarta of Indonesia for art; Bounlap Keokangna of Laos for art and Thant Myint-U of Myanmar for public affairs.
Others include Jose Ma Joey Concepcion of the Philippines for trade and industry; Tommy Koh of Singapore for public affairs; Somdet Phra Ariya WongsaKhottayan of Thailand who is the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand; and Nguyen Tien Thien of Vietnam who is the Secretary General of the National Vietnam Buddhist Sangha.
COMMENTSIn another first, the ASEAN flag will be flown by choppers during the Republic Day parade.
Noted Indians who received the civilian awards this year include film composer and musician Ilayaraaja, senior Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh ideologue Parameswaran Parameswaran, and former Indian cricket team captain MS Dhoni.