India’s Act East Policy

Recently, the Union Minister of State Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) said that connectivity is an important element of Act East Policy.

Important points:

  • The ‘Act East Policy’ announced in November, 2014 is the upgrade of the “Look East Policy”.
  • It is a diplomatic initiative to promote economic, strategic and cultural relations with the vast Asia-Pacific region at different levels.
  • It involves intensive and continuous engagement with Southeast Asian countries in the field of connectivity, trade, culture, defence and people-to-people-contact at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.


To promote economic cooperation, cultural ties and developing a strategic relationship with countries in Indo-pacific region with a proactive and pragmatic approach and thereby improving the economic development of the North Eastern Region (NER) which is a gateway to the South East Asia Region.

Look East Policy

  • In order to recover from the loss of the strategic partner -USSR (end of the Cold war 1991), India sought to build up a relationship with the USA and allies of the USA in Southeast Asia.
  • In this pursuit, former Prime minister of India P V Narasimha Rao launched Look East policy in 1992, to give a strategic push to India’s engagement with the South-East Asia region, to bolster its standing as a regional power and a counterweight to the strategic influence of the People’s Republic of China.

Difference Between Look East and Act East:

  • Look East policy focused on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)countries + Economic Integration.
  • India became a dialogue partner of ASEAN in 1996 and summit level partner in 2002.
  • In 2012 the relationship got up-graded into a Strategic Partnership.
  • The time when India launched the Look East Policy in 1992, India’s trade with ASEAN was USD 2 billion. After signing the Free Trade Agreement in 2010 with ASEAN, the trade has grown to USD 72 billion (2017-18).
  • India is also an active participant in several regional forums like the East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) etc.

Act East:

Act East Policy focused on ASEAN countries + Economic Integration + East Asian countries + Security cooperation.

Prime minister of India highlighted 4C’s of Act East Policy.

  1. Culture
  2. Commerce
  3. Connectivity
  4. Capacity building
  • Security is an important dimension of India’s Act East Policy.
  • In the context of growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Seaand the Indian Ocean, securing freedom of navigation and India’s own role in the Indian Ocean is a key feature of Act East Policy.
  • In pursuance of this, India has been engaged under the narrative of Indo-pacific and informal grouping called Quad.


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