EAM S Jaishankar argued that Covid-19 pandemic has underlined the need for addressing common challenges that do not respect national boundaries

India has come forward in time of need to share its capabilities in vaccine development and pharmaceuticals with the rest of the world, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar said on Thursday.

Lauding the country’s efforts in sharing its capabilities in vaccine development and pharmaceuticals, Jaishankar pointed out, “When the problems are global, solutions must be truly collaborative and multilateral. The pandemic has underlined the need for working together to address common challenges that do not respect national boundaries.”

Speaking at the Virtual Prize Distribution Ceremony of the ASEAN-India Hackathon that was attended by senior Ministers from Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam, Dr. Jaishankar said that the ASEAN-India youth cooperation forms a key component of ASEAN-India strategic partnership and that the Hackathon complements the other ongoing youth centric initiatives.

He highlighted that India has engaged more than 2500 youth from ASEAN countries under the student exchange programmes besides also hosting diplomats, farmers and media of ASEAN countries. The hackathon covered two major themes – Blue Economy and Education.

Noting that ‘Blue Economy’ is one of the two themes selected for the competition, Jaishankar stated that the salience of the maritime domain has further enhanced reliance on oceans as providers of resources, reservoirs of biodiversity, highways of global trade and frontiers of scientific research have increased and as new tools have come forth for harnessing of seas.

Arguing that India has identified cooperation in the maritime domain as a priority under the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership, External Affairs Minister, recounted that development of coastal infrastructure, protection of marine ecosystems, sustainable harnessing of marine resources and providing sustained and gainful livelihoods to coastal communities are of topical interests to ASEAN and India.

The inaugural ASEAN-India Hackathon organised by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs from 1-4 February. For 36 hours, 330 students and 110 mentors from India and 10 ASEAN countries and India worked together online and competed as 55 teams to come up with innovative solutions to 11 problem statements.

The multinational character of each team was meant to forge collaborative spirit, exposing the participants to get acquainted with diverse cultures, values and work ethics. Minister of Education Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' who inaugurated the competition commended the hard work, team spirit, and creativity of the participants.

The Hackathon emanated from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement at the 16th ASEAN-India Summit in Bangkok in November 2019. Modi had said then that India’s Act East Policy as a significant cornerstone of the Indo-Pacific strategy, adding that ASEAN is at the core of Act East Policy.