Act East Policy of India is based on the 4 C's - Culture, Commerce, Connectivity, and Capacity Building. According to PM Modi, India's vision for the region is SAGAR, or Security and Growth for All. In this article, India's Act East Policy is discussed and its differences with its 1991 'Look East Policy' are explained.
Objectives of the "Act East Policy" of India
Through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional, and multilateral levels, ACT East Policy the part of the Indian Foreign Policy promotes economic cooperation, cultural ties, and builds strategic relationships with countries in the Asia-Pacific region. As a result, Arunachal Pradesh and the States of the North Eastern Region will have enhanced connectivity with neighboring countries.
In November 2014, the 'Act East Policy' was announced as an update to the 'Look East Policy'.
Diplomatic relations at different levels are promoted with the vast Asia-Pacific region through this initiative.
On a bilateral, regional and multilateral level, it involves intensive and continuous engagement with Southeast Asian countries in the areas of connectivity, trade, culture, defence, and people-to-people contact.
As a gateway to the South East Asia Region, the North Eastern Region (NER) needs to develop economic cooperation, cultural ties, and strategic relationships with countries in the Indo-Pacific region. By doing so, we hope to improve the economic development of the region.
Look East Policy
India attempted to build a relationship with the USA and its allies in Southeast Asia to recover from the loss of its strategic partner - the USSR (end of the Cold War 1991).
The Look East policy was launched in 1992 by former Indian Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao in order to give India a strategic push in its engagement with South-East Asia, strengthening its position as a regional power against the Chinese strategic influence.
Initiatives to Enhance Connectivity:
India-Bangladesh Agartala-Akhaura Rail Link.
Inland waterways and intermodal transport links through Bangladesh.
Developing a multimodal transit transport project between the North East and Myanmar and Thailand and building a trilateral highway.
A number of projects have been undertaken under the India-Japan Act East Forum, including road and bridge construction and the modernization of hydroelectric power plants.
As part of India's "Act East Policy" and Japan's "Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy," the India-Japan Act East Forum was created in 2017.
As part of the Forum, specific projects for economic modernization in the North East of India will be identified, including those related to connectivity, infrastructure development, industrial linkages, and people-to-people exchanges through sports, culture, and tourism.
The assistance extended to ASEAN countries during the pandemic was in the form of medicines and medical supplies.
Scholarships for PhD fellowships have been offered at IITs to participants from ASEAN countries.
India is also providing development assistance to grassroots communities in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam through Quick Impact Projects.
A quick impact project (QIP) is a small-scale, low-cost project that can be planned and implemented quickly.
Such initiatives are essential from the government point of view because in the international trade and the global economy, we are a major player. Hence, there should be no compromise with international ties and try as much as possible to build international ties. To counter Beijing's rising influence in South Asia, India's Act East policy seeks to fulfil its long-term development goals for the North Eastern region and open up a new avenue for accelerating its economic growth.