The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has come a long way since its formation in Bangkok 45 years ago. Shifting with the paradigms of the times, ASEAN has transformed from a security alliance during the Cold War into a linchpin of peace and prosperity in Southeast Asia.
India's relations with the ASEAN have gradually evolved and matured over the years. On the occasion of the 20th commemorative year of India-ASEAN relations, the 2nd edition of the ASEAN-India Car Rally was formally flagged off from Yogyakarta, Indonesia on 27th November and will wind its way through 8 of the 10 ASEAN countries before finally ending in New Delhi. However, since there is no road that connects Indonesia to Singapore, the rally begins from Singapore.
Day 1: Singapore to Ipoh (Malaysia)
28 Mahindra XUVs were lined up at the Marina Bay Formula One Circuit for the flag off on 28th November. Hundreds of people, including children waving flags, cheered as Singapore foreign minister K Shanmugan flagged off the rally.
Here begins the epic journey of 28 Mahindra XUVs carrying politicians, diplomats, movie stars, journalists rally enthusiasts and laymen, covering a total distance of 8000 kilometres in 20 days.
Escorted by police, the convoy hit the stunning streets of the Lion City. The policemen stopped the traffic at every junction, giving the convoy complete right of way and helping us reach the Singapore-Malaysian border in less than 45 minutes. The organizers did a commendable job of making the border crossing seamless and by 11.30 am, the convoy entered Malaysia amid a colourful welcome ceremony at Johor Baharu. Take a look at the beautiful cultural events at the welcome ceremony in the video below.
After the ceremony, the convoy gathered pace along the motorway that tore though luxuriant palm plantations. As the rally progressed and the kaleidoscope of colours accompanied, the atmosphere suddenly turned gloomy and it started pouring heavily. But the rain failed to dampen the spirits of the 124 participants, as they made their way into the Putrajaya Square for a ceremonial flag-off by the Prime Minister. Following is a video of the cultural programme performed there.