Discuss the importance of security and connectivity towards a successful Act East Policy. Do you agree with the view the Government of India has made these two aspects as two key pillars of its Act East Policy?
India’s ‘Act East’ policy, upgraded from the ‘Look East’ policy in 2014, serves as a platform for deepening and strengthening its relationship with ASEAN and the East Asian economies. For the success of this policy ,it is imperative that there is a better connectivity and enhanced security measures at hand.
Without enhanced infrastructure for connectivity, act east policy tend to fail or show less desired results . The policy tends to fail in the absence of;
1. Better physical connectivity in form of road, rail and air ways
2. Cultural exchange of students, businessmen, academician and citizens
3. Friendly visits and conventions by political leaders
Similarly , in absence of security measures intimate contacts with East and South East Asian countries will do more harm than good. Act East minus security will result in;
1. Enhanced drug trafficking owing to the presence of golden triangle of drugs in South East Asia.
2. Infiltration of insurgents and miscreants along with terrorists
3. Exaggeration of refugee crisis
4. Clash of India and China is inevitable once India tries to reach out to East Asian countries, for eg oil exploration in South China sea where China , India and Vietnam is present.
Thus , Government of India has made these two aspects as two key pillars of its Act East Policy. Some of its initiatives , reflects the Government’s focus on these two facets. For instance;
1. Improved access to gateway ports particularly in Bangladesh and Myanmar
2. Launch of SASEC vision by 7 South Asian countries
3. Kaladan Multi Modal project to bring India Myanmar closer than before and has the potential to act as a game changer
4. BHARATMALA programme to provide last mile connectivity to major border poimts and trade routes
5. India Myanmar Thailand trilateral highway
6. BCIM corridor
7. Increasing importance of BIMSTEC in international affairs
8. Providing defence credit lines to Vietnam along with patrol boats and other defence equipments.
9. India participating in Multilateral maritime exercises with East and South East Asian countries
Act East policy of India has coincided with the shifting of power struggle from trans atlantic to Asia Pacific region and thus both USA and ASEAN is looking towards India to play a balancing role against China. Thus India need to act wisely and tactfully, enhancing both its connectivity and security measures.