The Association of Southeast Nations is an important pillar of India’s Act East Policy Said the Indian PM.

The PM will meet with leaders of 10 ASEAN countries, followed immediately by the EAS meeting, which includes leaders of all ASEAN nations and Australia, China, India, South Korea, Russia, and the U.S.

About: ASEAN

It is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising ten countries in Southeast Asia.

ASEAN was established on August 8, 1967, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration, also known as the Bangkok Declaration.

The founding members of ASEAN include Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

Brunei Darussalam joined in 1984, followed by Vietnam in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999.

The primary objectives of ASEAN are to promote regional cooperation and stability, enhance economic growth, and foster cultural and social ties among its member states.

ASEAN operates on the principles of non-interference in each other's internal affairs and consensus-based decision-making.

India - ASEAN relations

India's relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a vital component of its foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region. India and ASEAN have been working together to enhance their cooperation in various fields, including politics, economics, security, and culture. Here are some key aspects of India-ASEAN relations:

Historical and Cultural Ties: India and Southeast Asia share historical and cultural ties dating back to ancient times.

Indian influence on Southeast Asian cultures, religions (such as Buddhism and Hinduism), and trade routes has left a lasting legacy in the region.

ASEAN-India Dialogue Partnership: India became a sectoral partner of ASEAN in 1992 and was granted full dialogue partner status in 1995.

Since then, both sides have steadily expanded their cooperation in various sectors.

Trade and Economic Relations: Trade between India and ASEAN has grown significantly over the years.

In 2009, India and ASEAN signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on goods, known as the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA).

Negotiations on services and investment are ongoing.

The aim is to promote economic integration and boost trade and investment flows.

Connectivity and Infrastructure: India is actively involved in infrastructure and connectivity projects in the ASEAN region, such as the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project.

These initiatives aim to enhance physical connectivity and trade.

Security and Defense Cooperation: India and ASEAN countries cooperate on security issues, including counter-terrorism, maritime security, and disaster management.

Joint military exercises and defence dialogues are conducted to strengthen security ties.

Cultural and Educational Exchanges: Cultural diplomacy and people-to-people ties are actively promoted.

India and ASEAN organize cultural events, exchange programs, and scholarships to foster greater understanding and appreciation of each other's cultures.

ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit: In 2018, India hosted the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi to celebrate 25 years of ASEAN-India partnership.

The summit further strengthened ties and led to the adoption of the Delhi Declaration, outlining a vision for the future of ASEAN-India relations.

Act East Policy: India's Act East Policy aligns with its engagement with ASEAN.

It aims to deepen economic integration, enhance connectivity, and strengthen strategic partnerships with countries in Southeast Asia.

Regional Forums: India actively participates in regional forums involving ASEAN, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the East Asia Summit (EAS), where it engages in discussions on regional security and cooperation.

India's engagement with ASEAN reflects its commitment to promoting peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Both sides continue to work on enhancing their multifaceted relationship, addressing common challenges, and exploring new avenues for cooperation in various sectors.

The partnership between India and ASEAN is seen as a key factor in shaping the evolving geopolitical landscape of the Indo-Pacific region.

India’s Act East Policy

India's Act East Policy is a foreign policy initiative that aims to strengthen India's strategic and economic ties with countries in East and Southeast Asia.

It is an extension and evolution of India's earlier "Look East Policy," which was initiated in the early 1990s.

The Act East Policy was officially announced in 2014 by the Narendra Modi-led government and represents a more proactive and comprehensive approach toward engaging with the nations of the Asia-Pacific region.

Key objectives and elements of India's Act East Policy include:

Economic Engagement: The policy seeks to enhance economic integration with East and Southeast Asian countries.

It encourages trade, investment, and economic cooperation through initiatives such as the "Make in India" campaign, which aims to attract foreign investment and promote manufacturing within India.

Connectivity: Infrastructure development and connectivity projects are a crucial aspect of the Act East Policy.

India is actively involved in the development of transportation and connectivity networks, including the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, and the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor.

Security and Defence Cooperation: India recognizes the importance of security and defence collaboration in the region.

It engages in joint military exercises, defence dialogues, and security partnerships with countries in the Asia-Pacific to address common security concerns.

Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges: The policy promotes cultural diplomacy and fosters people-to-people ties.

This includes educational and cultural exchanges, tourism promotion, and efforts to showcase India's rich cultural heritage.

Engagement with Regional Organizations: India actively participates in regional organizations and forums, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), East Asia Summit (EAS), and the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation initiative, to strengthen regional cooperation and address common challenges.

Maritime Cooperation: Given its strategic location in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, India emphasizes maritime security and cooperation with littoral states.

It conducts joint naval exercises and engages in discussions on maritime issues.

Diplomatic Outreach: India engages in high-level diplomatic outreach to countries in the Asia-Pacific region to build strategic partnerships and enhance its presence on the global stage.

The Act East Policy reflects India's recognition of the growing importance of the Asia-Pacific region in global affairs, both economically and strategically.

It aims to leverage India's position as a regional power to enhance its influence and contribute to regional stability and development.

Through this policy, India seeks to deepen its engagement with East and Southeast Asian countries in pursuit of its national interests while promoting shared prosperity and security in the region.

Practice Question:
Rather than geopolitical India’s Relation with ASEAN should now move to geoeconomics. Comment

Posted by on 7th Sep 2023