Act East Policy

Look East Policy (LEP) was characterised by ‘stop and go impulse’ …therefore there was need to launch something new…

The “Act East Policy” (AEP) was launched at the East Asia Summit in Myanmar in November 2014.

Act East Policy” focuses on the 3 C’s (Culture, Connectivity and Commerce)

The key differences between “Look East Policy” and “Act East Policy” 

  • The focus of the “Look East Policy” was to increase economic integration with the South East Asian countries and the area was just confined to South East Asia only. On the other hand the focus of the “Act East Policy” is economic and security integration and focussed area increased to South East Asia plus East Asia.

Components of ”Act East Policy”

  • Multidimensional in nature : Military, economic and stratrgic with countries in the Asia-Pacific region through continuous engagement at regional, bilateral and multilateral levels.
  • Dynamism and vigour
  • Predominance to defence : signing of stratregic agreement with Japan and Vietnam etc
  • Connectivity a major pillar : trilateral highway – India , Myanmar and Thailand
  • Development of North East an integral part of this policy : “we should look east through North East”
  • Geographical extension of AEP go beyond ASEAN and includes South East Asia plus East Asia.
  • India’s engagement and foreign relation with other countries became much more assertive in nature : eg – RCEP, South China Sea engagements etc

Recent Developments

  • The ASEAN-India Plan of Action for the period 2016-20 has been adopted in August 2015 which identifies concrete initiatives and areas of cooperation along the three pillars of political-security, economic and socio-cultural.
  • In order to harness the benefits of the “Act East Policy”, India has upgraded its relations to strategic partnership with JAPAN, Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),Republic of Korea (ROK) and forged close ties with all countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Apart from ASEAN, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and East Asia Summit (EAS), India has also been actively engaged in regional forum such as Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) and Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC).

Challenges with respect to “Act East Policy”

  • China’s Checkbook diplomacy (Hard economic policy) and self proclaimed peaceful rise doctrine (Soft power diplomacy)
  • Insurgency in the North East : creates security threat
  • Diaspora is not active and organised

Way Forward

  • India must continue engagements through her Soft power such as Buddhism, tourism, people-to-people contacts, and cultural ties with the region must continue to be harnessed.
  • Continuous engagement with China too is necessary to expand cooperation, particularly on the· economic front
  • Important sectors like technology transfer, civilian nuclear cooperation, defence, and innovation· should be given priority as the way forward

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