India’s Look West Policy
Along with the Look East or Act East Policy, India has now come up with the Look West or Think West Policy involving the countries of Israel and Arab bloc. West Asia is a politically sensitive arena. Historic reasons, global geo-politics, cold war tensions has resulted in conflicts and fragmentation conflicts of the region on the issues of Shia-Sunni, Iran and Israel. But the area which is a hub of negative developments can also become a strong player being capable of fundamentally changing the growth trajectory of India.
Desirability of Look West Policy
There are several reasons why Look West Policy has a greater value for India. These are:
- Scope of influence-Drawing a comparison between the Look East and Look West Policy, it is undeniable that Southeast Asia is already a closely knit group. Area There is no initiative that can be taken by India to reorient the countries of the region that have historically become fairly interconnected. Moreover, China has a huge influence over the economy and physical connectivity in this region and the United States is an important player in meeting the security needs of the country. With these countries having a stronghold, India is less likely to emerge as one of these players. Therefore the scope of influence of India on the region is quite limited.
- But this is not the case in West Asia. India has a huge scope of influence, if not through trade but geopolitically.
- Close links-India has very close relations with these countries, mostly in terms of its energy dependence, the backbone of any country. Expanding relations to will thus have an indirect effect on boosting India’s economy.
- Pathway to other Areas-With the think west policy India will not be a passive onlooker for the happenings in the Middle East. Through Think West policy India would leverage growing overseas interest in India to develop connections to other parts of the world. India’s unique advantage of having warm relations with all the opposing groups like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel provide immense opportunities for India’s Think West policy. There are large number of Indian communities that have made Gulf states as their home. Dubai also plays a major role by being the cultural and financial hub of the South Asians.
Efforts Made in this Regard
- After the lifting of sanctions on Iran and its nuclear deal, India is working closely with Iran in addressing the issues of connectivity and energy security. India’s interests are synergized with that of Iran to achieve a greater nexus.
- This collaboration between India and Iran is not seen as a threat from its opposing group which is led by Saudi Arabia. Crown price of Saudi was the Chief guest for republic day celebrations of 2017. India and Saudi Arabia are now moving ahead from the buyer-seller relation to that of partners. This addresses the concern of India’s energy security and Saudi’s deteriorating economy due to fluctuating oil prices.
- The other aspect of the Middle East is Israel-Palestine. There is broad convergence between the opposing groups led by Saudi Arabia and Iran in the favor of Palestine in the Israel-Palestine conflict. India’s approach of de-hyphenating the issue of Israel- Palestine by effectively engaging with Israel and re-iterating the commitment towards the cause of Palestine has not seen with suspicion in the Middle East.
The changing geo-politics due to declining attraction towards fossil fuels, new president of US hinting at withdrawing from the traditional role of policemen of the region has created a void. As India is looking west, Middle East is looking east towards India for effectively filling the void. India’s warm relations with all the major players of the region provide India with a natural and unique advantage.