The significance of the ASEAN was evident with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Thailand in May, packed with meetings with his counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra and the signing of seven accords. (Agencies)
Manmohan Singh described Thailand as the springboard for India's engagement with Southeast and East Asia and said, "It remains the vital link in our Look East Policy and our strategic partnership with ASEAN."
He said that India saw Thailand as an important partner in promoting maritime security, regional economic integration and the evolution of an open, balanced and inclusive regional architecture anchored in ASEAN centrality.
Both sides also signed the much awaited Extradition Treaty, with India eyeing to bring back Munna Zingada, a key aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
"Our growing security cooperation received a major boost today. The Extradition Treaty, concluded after two decades of negotiations, and a memorandum on cooperation in anti-money laundering send a major signal of our shared commitment to combating terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking and counterfeiting," Singh had said.
Seeking greater cooperation with South East Asian countries on economic and security issues, India also announced a separate Mission for ASEAN region to be set up in Jakarta with a full-time resident ambassador.
The ASEAN members welcomed the move as an illustration of the intensification of the ASEAN-India strategic partnership.
Addressing the 11th ASEAN-India Summit in October in Brunei, Singh said India was ready to sign an FTA with ASEAN on services and investment to boost their bilateral trade to USD 100 billion by 2015, from USD 76 billion last year.
Noting that connectivity is a strategic priority in India-ASEAN relationships, the Prime Minister said that the 3,200-km trilateral highway linking India, Myanmar and Thailand is expected to be ready by 2016.
The year also saw the Philippines being ravaged by one of the most powerful typhoons in recent times, 'Haiyan', that turned the city of Tacloban into a ghost town claiming over 5,000 lives with large scale destruction.
The Buddhist nation of Thailand is also in the grip of political instability after opposition-led protesters took to the streets calling for an end to the government of Premier Shinawatra following years of discontent.
Yingluck dissolved Parliament and called for snap polls on February 2. But the protesters want her to quit even as interim premier and are demanding a 'people's council.' The weeks of anti-government rallies have seen serious violence with the country facing an uncertain political future.
After three years of relative stability, the popular demonstrations arose against Yingluck, triggered by a proposed amnesty bill that would have facilitated the return of her brother, the controversial self-exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and is living in self-imposed exile to avoid a 2008 corruption conviction, still commands popular support among most rural Thais and the urban poor. However, he remains a deeply divisive figure and is resented by many among the urban elite and middle class.
The small and vibrant island of Singapore, the city-state considered a model nation in many respects, saw riots for the first time in over 40 years.
The accidental death of an Indian migrant worker saw hundreds of south Asians venting their anger, burning vans and damaging shops, an indication of ongoing ethnic tensions within Singapore, rising income inequality, the country's heavy reliance on foreign labour, and the working conditions of migrant workers.
An Indian business delegation of CII visited the new kid on the block, Myanmar, having realised the immense economic opportunities for Indian business.
India has given a USD 500 million loan to Myanmar, some of which will be used to fund the highway, and is also constructing 71 bridges on the entire length.
The unrest in Thailand's southern neighbour Malaysia was marked by political uncertainty in the Muslim-majority nation with the ruling Barisan Nasional barely managing to cling to power led by Premier Najib Razak.
The party has been Malaysia's ruling political force since independence though the Anwar Ibrahim-led opposition coalition put up a spirited fight in a bitter, closely-fought election battle marked by violence and allegations of electoral fraud by the opposition.
Malaysia also witnessed rising religious extremism with a Catholic weekly newspaper being forced to remove Islamic religious references.
The year also saw increasing tensions between China and its south eastern neighbours, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan as the Communist giant's increasing strategic and geopolitical assertiveness unnerved the smaller nations.
Competing claims over disputed islands and oil and gas fields in the South China Sea added to the wariness of China's neighbours over Beijing's regional and global aspirations, in the backdrop of its ongoing bilateral fracas with historic rival Japan over the East China Sea islets.
The significance of the ASEAN was evident with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Thailand in May, packed with meetings with his counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra and the signing of seven accords.