Posts Tagged ‘ASEAN India’
Last week, as the 3rd US-India Strategic Dialogue was going on, I co-wrote an article for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC with Ernie Bower looking at ASEAN-India relations as both sides commemorate two decades of their official partnership.
The purpose of the article was two-fold: first, highlighting the importance of India’s role in the Asia-Pacific and US interests in the region, and, second, noting both the opportunities and limits to potential cooperation between India and ASEAN (and the US as well).
We propose some areas where both ASEAN and India can work together, such as building infrastructure, improving people-to-people ties and private sector collaboration. The idea is to get from India’s “Look East” policy which dates back to the early 1990s to “acting East”, as several US officials have urged New Delhi to do.
But we are also not naïve about how factors like India’s domestic politics and its identity may constrain its ability to work with ASEAN and the United States and also disappoint those who expect New Delhi to play a dominant role in the region.
You can read the full thing here. I’ve gotten some feedback about the article, but I always welcome more and look forward to your thoughts.
Picture: One of the winners of the ASEAN and SAARC drawing competition for 2011. From UNISDR Flickr Account using a Creative Commons License: http://www.flickr.com/photos/isdr/6216677209/
In his remarks yesterday before departing to Japan, South Korea, India and Singapore, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell mentioned the importance Washington placed in encouraging India’s Look East policy, a strategy launched by former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao in 1991 to boost ties with East Asia which has been gaining steam over the last few years. Campbell said:
Part of the U.S. approach to the Asia-Pacific region is a deeper dialogue with India and encouraging India’s “Look East” strategy and so we will be talking about specific initiatives that we will be taking with Delhi to support that effort as part of our Asia-Pacific consultations with them.
Campbell’s comments are in line with what other US officials have been saying recently. In her visit to India in June last year for instance, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton encouraged India “not just to look East, but to engage East and act East”.
I’ve emphasized the importance of India’s Look East Policy and its increasing momentum in several previous pieces, most recently here, but also here and here. There has been and will continue to be a lot of commentary on it this year because 2012 marks two decades of India-ASEAN relations, and both parties are commemorating it with a series of meetings that will end with one in New Delhi later in the year.
Let me just briefly quote a few paragraphs from a recent article I wrote on where I see India’s Look East Policy going with respect to Southeast Asia.
Launched in 1991 by then-Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, India’s “Look East” policy was long regarded by many as lacking in vision and substance. Yet as India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) prepare to mark two decades of formal relations later this year, there is much to celebrate. Given the recent advances New Delhi has made in its relations with its Southeast Asian neighbors, as well as with ASEAN as an institution, both parties can proudly toast the progress achieved thus far. But they should also use the anniversary as an opportunity to strengthen ties further.
Despite these successes over the past few years, there are still several ways that India and its ASEAN partners can enhance relations even further. While improving commercial relations with Myanmar is an important step, infrastructure development and trade will always be limited unless New Delhi finds a long-term solution to the ethnic insurgencies that plague India’s northeast. Only by addressing that issue will Myanmar emerge as a true gateway for India into Southeast Asia. Much more can also be done to enhance India’s trade with ASEAN nations more generally, which is expected to grow to a modest $70 billion…
WPR articles are often fully available only to subscribers, but you can read parts of it here.
I’ve got a new paper published on how to strengthen relations between India and Southeast Asia over the next few years.
In it, I argue that given the ancient civilizational and cultural links between the two, and the potential for cooperation in various areas including in economics, counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, climate change, natural disaster relief, and managing the rise of China, a more closer partnership should be forged. This would benefit not only the two parties, but the Asian region as a whole as well as interested parties like the United States.
I outline some of the current challenges with the relationship, including protectionism, economic structure and anemic people-to-people relations. I then detail what future steps could be taken toward a stronger partnership, which include (on the Indian side) reinvigorating lackluster sub-regional initiatives like the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Initiative (MGCI), and (on the Southeast Asia side) pulling India into regional initiatives like the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization Agreement.
You can read the full version here.
Picture: The Hindu