May 23, 2017

Actualising East: India in a Multipolar Asia

The following paper originally appeared as ISAS Insights No. 412, published by the Institute of South Asian Studies in Singapore on 23 May 2017. The full text can be found here. It is adapted from a presentation made at the 11th ISAS International Conference on South Asia on 3 March 2017. 

After years of a ‘Look East’ policy that recognised the importance of the Asia-Pacific region for Indian interests, the Indian government decided to upgrade it rhetorically to ‘Act East’. The objective of the ‘Act East’ policy is to ensure a multipolar Asia, through deeper institutional engagement, land and maritime connectivity, and security partnerships with Southeast and East Asia. While institutional engagement and security cooperation have improved considerably over the past two decades, connectivity remains a work in progress. For New Delhi to ‘Actualise East,’ it will require a rethinking of the country’s China policy in the light of developments there, putting nuts and bolts to improving India’s connectivity with Bangladesh and Southeast Asia, and prioritising Indian Ocean security.