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    More than meets the eye

    Rokiah Mahmud

    Seventeen journalists and media practitioners from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam gained insights on India’s development and significant achievements during the ASEAN-India Media Exchange programme recently.

    “The programme was a great chance for me to explore new things, in terms of friendship, culture, international and people-to-people relations before the challenges and crises,” news editor at Vietnam Television Nguyen Tien Anh said.

    “I had more chances to understand how the international relations and cooperation work throughout the meetings with G20 officials, CII experts, and delegates from participating members, as well as the activities with ASEAN journalists and media agencies,” she said, adding that she had not participated in any exchange programmes before.

    “Both sides have many opportunities to further cooperation in technology, digitalisation and culture sharing activities.”

    ASEAN is India’s fourth largest trading partner, especially after India signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in goods and an FTA in services and investments with ASEAN. This is one of the key pillars that helped the two sides improve imports and exports, overcome the difficulties of international crises or other external effects.

    Connectivity with the ASEAN nations allows India to improve its presence in the region, with projects keeping northeast India at the centre, ensuring the economic growth of the north-eastern states.

    The ASEAN-India Media Exchange participants. PHOTO: MUIZ MATDANI

    “Nothing’s better than having this visit to understand India. It was hard for me and other delegates to totally understand life and culture here, because we have less time to discover cultural activities and history,” she added.

    Representatives from Thailand – Information Officer at the Public Relations Department Sukanda Kaewanuruk and Assistant Editor (Online News) at Workpoint Entertainment Public Company Limited Nattasak Palakawong Na Ayudhaya – expressed that the programme has provided a good opportunity for media professionals from India and ASEAN to foster relationships and share information.

    “We are able to see how Indian government raises a significant attention on joint ASEAN-India economic collaboration. It is very important to write (news) about.”

    With connection established, they agreed that it will be very beneficial for journalists and those involved in news.

    “It would be very easy and convenient for our cooperation in the future, for example, when sharing urgent news in times of crisis, information sharing from events and visits that have been organised.”

    Indonesian delegates represented by a reporter at Television of Republic of Indonesia (TVRI) Dwi Bagus Suprayitno shared that the programme turned out to be fruitful and engaging, especially for someone like him who do not have much experience as a professional journalist.

    From the programme, he hoped that it will provide media participants the knowledge and mutual understanding for both sides, and lead to strategic partnerships between India and ASEAN member states.

    “In the field of journalism, I expect both ASEAN and India are able to establish one specific digital platform providing any kinds of stories to be shared,” he said.

    “We all know a lot of videos about India go viral on social media in Indonesia, of which most of them showing the unpleasant sides of the country, be it on street food, poverty and what not.

    “For me, seeing and experiencing India myself has helped me to have a better understanding.

    “Also, from attending closed meetings with several parties, I have gained better understanding that India is more than what I see in the Internet and social media. ASEAN can learn on India’s economic growth, technological power, and how they preserve their cultures and the roots,” he said.

    Broadcast Journalist from Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) Rosmalis Anuar explained that India and Southeast Asian countries share long and close historical and cultural linkages. He believes that the exchange programme is a good initiative to expand people-to-people interaction and multilateral exchanges between the two sides.

    “As a Malaysian, I was exposed to Indian culture since I was a child as the Indian community is one of the largest ethnic groups in Malaysia. However, there is still much to learn about this country that is not available in Malaysia,” she said, adding that the programme will help enhance cooperation in journalism.

    “It is a good programme to elevate connection among media fraternities from ASEAN member states and India. The networking session between the visiting ASEAN and local journalists is a great way to enhance mutual understanding and knowledge.”

    She also shared that they have learnt much from their visits in India, saying, “we have to visit this country to experience it ourselves”.

    For news reporter from the Philippines’ Bureau of Broadcast Services Merry Ann Bastasa, the programme has provided her an enriching experience.

    She said, “Being here in India and surrounded by media practitioners from other ASEAN members countries gives you the opportunity to learn and dive into the culture of not just India, but also your ASEAN neighbours.

    “What surprised me the most was the huge similarities of culture between ASEAN and India – how we value family, how we accommodate visitors and how we take pride in our traditions,” she said.

    “I believe through more extensive media partnership, I would like to see a collaboration between ASEAN and Indian media in the form of broadcast or print media.

    “I am very grateful for this opportunity to really look at India on a whole new perspective. India is very diverse and has big potential to become a powerhouse in the future.”

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