COLLECTION ASEAN AND SOUTH CHINA SEA LESSON 5 LOOK EAST TO ACT EAST POLICY PRESENTED BY AMIT GUPTA
About me . AMIT GUPTA MBBS from MMC ( Muzaffarnagar ). . Worked as Junior Resident in Department of Dermatology in Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital Dalan mocadmy.iaduseat . Follow me on https:/llunacademy.in/userl Dr.amitgupta
LOOK EAST POLICY Launched by PM NARASIMHA RAO in early 1990's. A. Why a separate foreign policy for East Asia? . There were many factors for this but main reasons were- 1. Economic recession and balance-of-payment crisis in mid 1991 in India due to Gulf War which was mainly because of geopolitical tensions. 2. Collapse of Soviet Union, created a strategic and economic vacuum for India. 3. China's economic reforms prompted India to reach out to Southeast Asia to avoid falling intoa subordinate poltical and economic role in the region subordinate political and economic role in the region 4. India's desire to stabilise northeastern states where insurgency were picking up its pace
. Objectives of look east policy Objectives of look east policy- A. Regional economic integration B. Reform and liberalisation C. Sustained economic arowth D. Development of northeastern states Approach for the Look East Policy were- 1. Geographical focus 2. Sub-regional cooperation 3. Free Trade agreement
Look East Policy has evolved from economic and diplomatic engagement with Southeast Asia to broader security and defence ties. . In recent years, Look East has acquired a strategic dimension with a significant naval emphasis After this policy, India started looking towards Southeast Asia as a major economic partner.
. We could divide this plicgy n two phas tion . We could divide this policy in two phases according to its implementation- 1. First phase - it was from 1991-2003. During this period, policy was focused on the development of trade and investment linkages with ASEAN states. 2. Second phase - it was from 2003-2014. During this period, policy not only focuses on economic relations but it also put strategic relations in the region on same platform that too with ASEAN states and with non ASEAN states.
ACT EAST POLICY . It focuses on Asia-Pacific region. This is not just a rebranding rather it carried a significant message with it that India is willing to play a more active and prominent strategic role exemplified by enhanced defence diplomacy in East and southeast Asia. . Objectives are - A. To promote economic cooperation B. To promote cultural ties. C. To develop strategic relationship with countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
. The North East of India has been a priority in our Act East Policy. . Act East Policy has placed emphasis on India-ASEAN cooperation in our domestic agenda or A. Infrastructure B. Manufacturing C. Trade D. Skill development E. Smart cities F. Make in India G. Connectivity projects H. Cooperation in Space I. Science and technology J. People-to-people exchange on-
. Efforts to develop and strengthen connectivity of Northeast with the ASEAN region through trade, culture, people-to-people contacts and physical infrastructure like road, rail, airport, telecommunications, power. . Some of the major projects are - Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project, the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project, Rhi-Tiddim Road Project, Border Haats, etc. Apart from ASEAN, ASEAN Region Forum, East Asia Summit, as well as some regional associations like BIMSTEC, MGC, IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association), all will pay crucial role in India's foreign policy towards Southeast Asia, East Asia and Pacific nations. Look East Policy did recognise the centrality of maritime security and the need to expand India's defence partnerships with Asia, but Act East Policy is pursuing these objectives with a new sense of urgency.
Q. What hindered the development of links between South and Southeast Asia? . It can be summarised in three points - A. Myanmar's isolation B. Mistrust between India and its neighbors C. Poor infrastructure connectivity O. Why 'ACT EAST POLICY' is so important for international platform? Indian and US security policies converge on India's Look East and now Act East policy. For both, Southeast Asia and East Asia are most important for trade, counter-terrorism and it has also lot of strategic weight.
On November 11, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins a 10-day tour of Myanmar, Australia and Fiji – his longest overseas trip to date. All eyes will be on the East Asia Summit in Myanmar, as well as the G-20 Summit in Australia. Modi will also be the first Indian prime minister to visit Australia in 28 years. But first stop in Myanmar should not be overlooked; it is important for a number of reasons.
First of all, Myanmar is India’s link to Southeast Asia, and thus a crucial component of its “Look East Policy,” now also called “Act East” by the current government. Over the past two decades successive governments have made assiduous efforts to reach out to Myanmar, realizing its strategic importance, especially in the context of India’s regional ties. While the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited the country in 1987, the real opening up toward Myanmar took place in the early 1990s during the government of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. As the architect of India’s Look East Policy, Rao realized that India needed to adopt a more pragmatic approach towards Myanmar.
Economic relations between both countries were thus initiated, and a trade agreement signed in 1994 gave a strong initial stimulus to the relationship. Modi’s immediate predecessor, Manmohan Singh, visited Myanmar in 2012 accompanied by a 25-member business delegation. It was a reasonably successful trip, with the signing of 12 MOUs, including a $500 million line of credit, a development deal to establish the Indo-Myanmar border huts, an increase in bilateral airline services, and assistance for setting up centers for research in information technology and agriculture.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
Still, there is ample scope to develop India’s economic and other ties with Myanmar. A number of projects have been commenced, the most important of which – the Kaladan Multi-Modal transport project, which will connect Calcutta with Sittwe port, and the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway – are still ongoing. Infrastructure at border posts like Moreh-Tamu, which is in dire need of repair, and the bus service between Imphal and Mandalay, which was supposed to begin in October, are still on the drawing board.
Second, while India has been helping Myanmar build institutional capacity and develop areas such as information technology, this often gets overshadowed by assistance from other countries – especially China, with cumulative foreign direct investment in Myanmar reaching $14 billion in June 2014. Some of the major projects initiated by China include the Myitsone dam, Tarpein hydroelectric project, Kyaukphyu-Kunming oil pipeline, Letpadaungtaung copper mine, and the Tagaung nickel mine. Chinese trade with Myanmar was $6 billion in 2013, while Indian-Myanmar trade was touching $2 billion. Indian investment was more than $270 million as of August 2013, yet it is nowhere near China’s investment.
The assistance granted by China tends to be purely commercial in nature, and the terms and conditions of its loans are much more stringent, while Indian assistance is more liberal. Of late there has also been some resentment against the Chinese, evidenced by Myanmar’s refusal to accept a loan of $2 billion for a highway connecting Kyaukphyu with Ruili following local protests. Connectivity with Kyaukhphu is important for China, since it will help create an alternative to the Straits of Malacca for oil transportation. The Chinese are looking to transport oil from Africa and the Persian Gulf through Myanmar to China rather than using the circuitous sea route through the Malacca Straits.
Apart from its strategic and economic importance, Myanmar is also important to India because it is a member of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperative (BIMSTEC), along with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Nepal. Interestingly, both Myanmar and India are also part of the BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation).
Will Modi take on China directly?
As in Bhutan and Nepal, the Indian prime minister is expected to focus on strengthening connectivity while also providing assistance in institutional development. He could send a clear message that while India may not match China’s economic prowess, it certainly has a major advantage in the context of strong institutions. Apart from conventional assistance and developing government and educational institutions, Modi should focus on Indian assistance for monuments that reflect the shared history of both countries. As he did in Nepal, there should also be a focus on integrating India’s northeastern states with Myanmar like China has done with Yunnan.
Third, since taking office Modi has sent clear signals that he wants to reach out to Indians settled overseas. Unfortunately, Indians in Myanmar have been neglected by the government. The total number of PIOs (persons of Indian origin) according to the 1983 census was in excess of 400,000, many of whom are stateless. There are PIOs of numerous ethnicities from states including Bihar, Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. It is time for the Indian government to assist those who are stateless, with the relevant state governments also helping to re-establish ties.
Finally, it would also make sense to find synergies with other countries that have a strong presence in Myanmar, including Japan and Thailand. Japan, in particular, has increased its presence in Myanmar recently, and Japan’s approach is similar to India’s in terms of the conditions for assistance it imposes. With India-Japan ties growing and the latter planning to invest in India’s northeast, Tokyo could provide connectivity assistance to India between its northeast and Myanmar. Synergies can also be found with countries like Singapore that have a growing presence in Myanmar. This will help ensure that no single country has a dominant influence.
Modi has equipped himself well in the sphere of diplomacy, and his emphasis on connectivity and the building of shared values with neighbors has resonance in Myanmar’s case. It remains to be seen whether he can sell India’s strengths effectively and infuse the economic and strategic bilateral relationship with a much-needed dose of dynamism.
Tridivesh Singh Maini is a Senior Research Associate with The Jindal School of International Affairs, Sonepat.