From ‘Look East’ to ‘Act East’: India’s Evolving Engagement with the Asia-Pacific Region
India, Look East, China, ASEAN, defence, cooperation, trade
In 1991, India's Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao outlined the 'Look East' policy, designed to address India's neglect of the Southeast Asian region during the Cold War period. The purpose of the Look East policy initially was to build closer economic and cultural ties with the countries of the region and with ASEAN in particular. The current Modi administration's new 'Act East' policy has sought to expand these ties to include deeper security cooperation and defense partnerships as well. In addition, the new policy focuses on building ties with countries in the wider Asia-Pacific region, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea. The new policy is more than an exercise in rebranding. The primary goals behind the Act East policy are both to promote India's economic growth and development and respond to China's rise and expanding influence in the region. However, India needs to be mindful about the challenges associated with the implementation of this policy.