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Act East Policy of India: A Complete Overview

Act East Policy of India: A Complete Overview

The four C’s — culture, commerce, connectivity, and capacity building — are the cornerstones of India’s Act East Policy. India’s goal for the region is SAGAR, which stands for Security for All and Growth for All, as stated by Prime Minister Modi.

Let’s learn about the ‘Act East Policy’ of India launched in 2014 and understand its difference from the ‘Look East Policy of India launched in 1991 in detail.

‘Act East Policy’ of India – Objectives

The goal of the ‘Act East Policy’ is to promote economic cooperation, cultural ties, and strategic relationships with countries in the Asia-Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional, and multilateral levels, thereby providing enhanced connectivity between the states of the North Eastern Region, including Arunachal Pradesh, and other countries in our neighborhood.

Regional Forums & Institutional Mechanisms for Act East Policy of India

The following institutional structures are being used to establish deeper partnerships between India and ASEAN.

  • Annual Summit Level Meetings
  • Active Participation in the East Asia Summit.
  • 30 Sectoral Dialogue Mechanisms
  • India has joined ARF as a participating member (ASEAN Regional Forum)
  • India has joined ARF as a participating member (ASEAN Regional Forum)
  • India has also participated in other regional organisations such as the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Mekong Ganga Cooperation, Asia Cooperation Dialogue, and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).

Infrastructure, Trade & Commerce Ties Between India & ASEAN

  • ASEAN is India’s fourth-largest trading partner.
  • More than $80 billion worth of trade took place between the two countries in the Financial Year 2017–18.
  • India imported more than $ 45 billion from ASEAN during the same fiscal year, while exports to ASEAN were over $ 34 billion.
  • In 2010, AIFTA (ASEAN-India Free Trade Area), a free trade zone between India and ten ASEAN members, came into existence.
  • Supporting ASEAN startups through the ASEAN India Grand Challenge in order to offer an economically sound solution to India’s major problems
  • The ASEAN-India Plan of Action (2016–2020) was approved in August 2015. This outlines specific actions and areas for collaboration on the three pillars of political security, socio-cultural, and economic development.
  • A deep seaport is now being built by India in Sabang, Indonesia. This is done to strengthen India and Indonesia’s strategic partnership. The Indian islands of Andaman and Nicobar are close to Sabang.

Important Difference Between Act East Policy and Look East Policy

In the development of India’s strategy toward South East Asia and East Asia, both of these policies represent two subsequent phases.

The table below lists some of the main differences between India’s “Act East” Policy and its “Look East” Policy.

Act East PolicyLook East Policy
In 2014, Act East Policy was introduced.In 1991, the Look East Policy was introduced.
Narendra Modi, the country’s current prime minister, launched it.PV Narasimha Rao, a former Indian prime minister, launched it.
In terms of economic strength, India was in a very advantageous position when the Act East Policy was introduced in 2014.Due to the 1991 Economic Crisis, India’s economy was extremely vulnerable when the Look East Policy was introduced.
The emphasis is more on strengthening strategic and security relations, infrastructure development for better connectivity, and fostering economic cooperation.The main focus was expanding economic cooperation.
India and Japan are working together to build infrastructure in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.India did not prioritise constructing infrastructure in other nations.
Increased attention to defence cooperationThere wasn’t a lot of emphasis on defence cooperation.
This was started to address the shifting geopolitical landscape caused by China’s supremacy in the South China Sea and its growing influence in the Indian Ocean region.The Indian economy was strongly reliant on the Soviet Union, but the collapse of the Soviet bloc forced India to look to alternate regions, namely South East Asia, to support the economy. As Japan and China had already established themselves as important economic powers in the area, India saw that there was enormous room for growth in the region.

Though both policies share a similarity of Shared Economic and Strategic Interests.

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