As a testimony to the intensity of the relationship that India seeks to have with Asean (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations), New Delhi has decided to open a separate mission for this 10-nation bloc that is billed as the growth centre of Asia.

An announcement of an Ambassador is expected to be made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Brunei, where he will participate at the 11th Asean-India summit on Thursday. Dr. Singh arrived here late on Wednesday afternoon to participate in the Asean-India engagement and the 8th East Asia Summit (EAS).

Nalanda University

At the EAS, India is expecting to sign inter-governmental agreements with half-a-dozen countries to reinforce the international character of the historic Nalanda University.

“This is the first time such an agreement is being promoted from the EAS platform,” official sources said.

While India is the biggest financier of this venture, several countries including China, Singapore and Australia have pledged money for the university.

The Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill is before a parliamentary standing committee and provides for having representatives from five EAS countries on the university’s Board.

“We are trying to make it a truly international university; the way it was when it flourished between the 5th and 12th centuries,” officials said.