India's Act East Policy

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 25, 2022, 10:31

The historical, religious, and cultural influences that India has had in Southeast Asia for more than a millennium can be seen through India's current relations with the region. The ancient Indian kingdoms and maritime empires of Sailendra, Funan, Majapahit, and Khmer, respectively, have left a legacy that is still cherished today.

The Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has relaunched India's Look East Policy as the Act East Policy of India since coming to power in 2014. (AEP). India's Act East Policy move aims to provide New Delhi's foreign policy more structure while also achieving its domestic development goals, particularly in India's North-Eastern area.

About India's Act East Policy

  1. The 'Act East Policy of India,' launched in November 2014, is an update to the previous "Look East Policy of India."
  2. It is a diplomatic project promoting economic, geopolitical, and cultural ties with the Asia-Pacific area at various levels.
  3. At the bilateral, regional, and multilateral levels, it entails intensive and ongoing involvement with Southeast Asian countries in connectivity, trade, culture, defence, and people-to-people interaction.

Aim of India’s Act East Policy

With a proactive and pragmatic approach, to promoting economic cooperation, cultural links, and strategic relationship development with nations in the Indo-Pacific region, thereby enhancing the economic growth of the North Eastern Region (NER), which is a gateway to the Southeast Asian Region.

The Look East Policy of India

  1. To recoup from the loss of its strategic partner, the Soviet Union, after the end of the Cold War in 1991, India sought to strengthen ties with the United States and its Southeast Asian allies.
  2. Former Indian Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao announced the Look East policy in 1992 to offer a strategic boost to India's involvement with Southeast Asia, bolstering its reputation as a regional force and a counterweight to the People's Republic of China's strategic influence.
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Difference between the Look East policy of India and the Act East Policy of India

Look East Policy of India

  1. Look East policy of India is centred on the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) + Economic Integration.
  2. In 1996, India joined ASEAN as a discussion partner, and in 2002, it became a summit level partner.
  3. The relationship was upgraded to a Strategic Partnership in 2012.
  4. India's trade with ASEAN totalled USD 2 billion when the Look East Policy was established in 1992. Following the Free Commerce Agreement with ASEAN in 2010, trade has increased to USD 72 billion (2017-18).
  5. India is also a regular attendee in regional forums such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and others.

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Act East Policy of India

  1. Act East is a policy that focuses on ASEAN countries, economic integration, and security cooperation.
  2. India's prime minister underlined the 4C's of Act East Policy.
    • Capacity Building
    • Commerce
    • Connectivity
    • Culture
  3. India's Act East Policy includes a significant security component.
  4. Securing freedom of navigation and India's position in the Indian Ocean is a crucial aspect of Act East Policy in the light of escalating Chinese aggressiveness in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. To do this, India has been working under the Indo-Pacific narrative and an informal grouping known as the Quad.

India is taking several other steps to strengthen its relationship with its neighbouring countries. India’s Act East Policy comprises intensive and ongoing cooperation with Southeast Asian countries in connectivity, trade, culture, defence, and people-to-people connection at the bilateral, regional, and multilateral levels.

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FAQs on India's Act East Policy

Q.1. What are the 4 Cs of India’s Act East Policy?

The 4 Cs of India’s Act East Policy are Culture, Commerce, Connectivity and Capacity Building.

Q.2. What is the most crucial aspect of India’s Act East Policy?

The most crucial aspect of India’s Act East Policy is security.

Q.3. What is the focus of the Look East Policy of India?

India's Look East Policy focuses on the ASEAN countries and the integration of economies.

Q.4. When was the Act East Policy of India announced?

The Act East Policy of India was announced in November 2014.