Unveiling India’s Act East Policy: A Strategic Shift in Regional Dynamics

Sansad TV

India’s Look East policy:

  • India’s Look East policy, initiated in 1991, marked a strategic shift, cultivating economic and strategic ties with Southeast Asian nations.
  • Spearheaded by Prime Minister Narsimha Rao, it evolved through administrations, succeeding in 2014 with the Act-East Policy.

Act East policy:

  • India’s Act East Policy focuses on the Asia-Pacific region, integrating economic, political, and cultural dimensions.
  • Emphasizing India-ASEAN cooperation, it aims to enhance connectivity, particularly in the North East, fostering economic cooperation, cultural ties, and strategic relationships.

Strategic angle of Act East policy:

  • In the context of the Indo-Pacific, India underscores the centrality of ASEAN, countering China’s influence.
  • Security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including the quadrilateral coalition (India, US, Japan, Australia), becomes pivotal amid China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.

Maritime goals:

  • India and ASEAN share maritime visions, collaborating on a regional architecture for shared security and prosperity.
  • Activities like blue economy development, coastal surveillance, and maritime domain awareness reinforce their commitment to a common vision for global commerce.

ASEAN and Strategic Partnerships:

  • ASEAN and India transitioned from dialogue partners to strategic allies.
  • Key players like Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Myanmar, and Thailand play vital roles in extending India’s reach and addressing regional challenges, fostering stability and security.


  • Despite progress, challenges persist, such as India’s trade deficit with RCEP countries, unaddressed service needs, and historical limitations in FTAs.
  • China’s strategic port-building poses concerns.
  • Collaborative efforts are essential to harness the full potential of Act East Policy.

Way forward:

  • The success of Act East Policy hinges on enhanced connectivity, economic collaboration, and strategic partnerships.
  • Strengthening ties with ASEAN nations and other global players, including the U.S., Japan, Korea, Australia, and China, is imperative.
  • Continuous engagement with China is essential for expanded cooperation, especially on the economic front.

India’s bureaucratic shift aligns with a renewed regional policy, emphasizing economic revival, counter-terrorism efforts, and maritime security. Leveraging soft power through Buddhism, tourism, and cultural ties remains integral to fostering lasting connections in the ever-evolving geopolitical landscape.

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