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Looking “East” Through India’s North East: Identifying Policy “Challenges” and Outlining the “Responses”

Namrata Goswami was Research Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detail profile.
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  • IDSA Occassional Paper No. 2
    2009

    India's “Look East” policy was envisioned by the Narasimha Rao government in 1991 as a focused foreign policy approach towards South East Asia in particular and East Asia in general. The idea was to bolster relationships with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as forge deeper ties with China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Another facet of the “Look East” policy since 2000 is to hinge the development of India's peripheral Northeastern region on greater economic linkages with South East Asia. Such an endeavour is viewed as potentially capable of dealing with problems in this region like economic backwardness, issues of identity and ethnicity, and armed separatist movements. However, policy makers face certain challenges in the North East towards optimal implementation of the Look East policy. This paper throws light on these challenges like lack of infrastructure, crisis of insurgency, the disjuncture between the elites and the social base in the North East regarding the “Look East” policy, and the states' incapacities during the implementation process of this policy. The paper also offers policy responses to these challenges.

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