India's Involvement with Laos

India and the Lao PDR share friendly and cordial relations set on a solid historical-cum-cultural basis and reinforced by mutually beneficial exchanges in the political and economic spheres in more recent times. India's principled role in Laos as the Chairman of the International Commission for Supervision and Control (ICSC) in Indo-China from 1954 to 1975 is still remembered fondly and appreciated both by the government and the Lao people.

Interaction between India and the Lao PDR dates back to the reign of King Asoka. According to a legend, emissaries of King Asoka brought a relic of the Buddha to Laos, which is believed to have been placed beneath the That Luang temple in Vientiane. The Wat Phu temple in Champassak Province (Southern Laos) is a standing example of the rich cultural interaction between India and Laos in the 7th and 8th century A.D. In many ways, the Wat Phu temple is considered to be a precursor of the Angkor Vat group of temples in Cambodia. In a recent excavation, Hindu religious icons like the Shiva Lingam have been discovered in an area close to the Wat Phu. Similar icons were also found in the northern province of Bokkeo (bordering Myanmar).

The impact of these traditional and cultural links is clearly evident even today in various aspects of the Lao religion, with both Buddhist and Hindu influences, language (with roots in Sanskrit and Pali), art and architecture, philosophy, customs and social ethos. Lao PDR has developed, almost as a fine art, its own version of the Hindu epic Ramayana in ballet form.

Lao PDR has been the Country-Coordinator for India in ASEAN since July 2003 for 3 years during which Laos played a pivotal and very supportive role in coordinating and further strengthening India’s relations with ASEAN.