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  1. 1. India – ASEAN Relations In 21st Century: StrategicImplications For India – AnalysisBy: Asif AhmedJuly 9, 2012“India’s Look East Policy is not merely an external economic policy, it is also a strategic shift in India’s visionof the world and India’s place in the evolving global economy. Most of all it is about reaching out to ourcivilisationalneighbours in South East Asia and East Asia”– Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan SinghIntroductionASEAN was formed in 1967 and its founding fathers had envisioned an organization which would include allthe ten countries of Southeast Asia (SEA). It began with five Southeast Asian states (Indonesia, Malaysia, thePhilippines, Singapore and Thailand); and others including the LMCV countries (Laos, Myanmar, Cambodiaand Vietnam) joined later. An eleventh country, East Timor, is yet to be granted membership. The SEAcountries are diverse and at varying stages of development- with Singapore at the forefront and Myanmar stilla least developed country (LDC). The emergence of India from a gloomy to a glowing position in the globalarena, coupled with a number of virtues like enormous size, huge population, convenient geostrategic location,progressive military might, meteoric economic growth inspired various states including South-East Asiannations to devise collaborative ties with India.India-ASEAN relations are a reflection of the complementariness of interests between the two entities. AsIndia chooses to embark on a benign projection of its rising power, it has become imperative to chart a foreignpolicy commensurate with its ambitions in Asia and the world. For India‘s power to be accepted in the AsianContinent, it needs to look beyond its immediate neighbours in the sub-Continent, and diversify and cement itsrelations mainly with the South-East Asian nations, the very essence of its Look East Policy and its continuingeffort to sustain and improve ties with a regional body like ASEAN1. This paper will discuss the India-ASEAN cooperation in various fields, the on-going efforts and will also try to explore the Historical Overview,Bilateral-Dialogue Relations, Political and Security Issues, various possibilities and Strategic Implications ofcooperation including defence cooperation and convergence of interest of both the region in 21st century.Historical BackgroundIn the annals of its history, India has had extensive cultural, economic and political ties with the SoutheastAsian nations. But in the years after independence, this region was completely overlooked by India because ofvarious reasons. The tumultuous relationship with Pakistan affected India‘s policy considerations as Indialooked to develop and maintain good relations with the Western world, so that they supported India‘s views onKashmir. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) afforded a greater degree of interaction between India and
  2. 2. many countries which it had neglected in the immediate years after its independence. India supported the anti-colonial movement in Southeast Asia—the convening of the Asian Relations Conference in 1947, a specialconference on Indonesia in January 1949, Chairmanship of the International Control Commission on India-China in 1954 and the sponsoring of the Bandung Conference—all these reflected India‘s deep involvement inthe freedom struggle being waged by the countries of the region. But the growing pro-Soviet tilt in India‘sforeign policy drove a wedge between India and the Southeast Asian nations. Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand,Singapore and the Philippines were strongly anti-communist. India‘s proposal for a security arrangement in theregion also did not go down well with the ASEAN countries as it was seen to be part of the Soviet Union‘sattempts to bring the region under its influence. ASEAN also did not support India‘s cause during the 1971Indo-Pak war.India ASEAN Relations After The End Of Cold War ASEANThe end of the cold war marked a turning point in India‘s relations with ASEAN. The resolution of theCambodian conflict brought about a change in Indo-ASEAN relations. The then Prime Minister RajivGandhi‘s path-breaking visit to China in 1988 also marked a tremendous shift in Sino-Indian relations and hada bearing on Indo-ASEAN relations as well. With the launching of India‘s economic liberalisationprogrammein 1991, ASEAN came to be identified as being pivotal to India‘s policy in the Asia-Pacific region. ASEANalso decided to expand its membership to include all countries which are geographically part of SoutheastAsia. A quantum jump in Indo-Asean relations came with the effort to forge closer links with the SoutheastAsian countries after 1991. This period saw the beginning of its Look-East Policy which was intended to reachout to the countries of East and Southeast Asia which had been neglected by India in spite of cultural,religious, geographical proximity and historical links.
  3. 3. The changed global circumstances forced India to adapt itself to the new emerging world order. India began anoverhaul of its foreign policy and it was felt that ASEAN could be of much help to India in this exercise. Indiaextended support to ASEAN‘s efforts in establishing peace in Cambodia and bring the warring factions to thenegotiating table at the Jakarta Informal Meet (JIM I and JIM II) and later co-operated with the United NationsTransitional Authority in its efforts to bring peace to Cambodia.It was in the wake of the failure of SAARC that India decided to ―Look-East‖ as India already had deep-seatedcultural, religious and political links with the Southeast Asian countries. But there were many factors whichimpeded India‘s efforts in this process. The ASEAN countries were pro-West in their outlook and projectedVietnam as their common threat as opposed to India‘s views on Vietnam and Cambodia. The boomingeconomies of the Southeast Asian countries also attracted India. ASEAN was also on the lookout for newpartners and untapped markets. The break-up of the erstwhile Soviet Union, its withdrawal from Cam RanhBay and the American withdrawal from the Subic Bay naval base created a security vacuum in the region.India‘s close relations with the Soviet Union acted as a dampener. India‘s position on the Soviet presence inAfghanistan and the recognition given to the HengSamarin regime in Cambodia also hindered the developmentof close ties with ASEAN. However, India ultimately succeeded in becoming a sectoral- dialogue partner ofthe ASEAN in 1992 and a full-dialogue partner in 1996. The other full dialogue partners are: Australia,Canada, China, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the US. With theinclusion of Myanmar, India and ASEAN now share a 1,600-km land border. Despite the economic crisis thatplagued the region in the late 1990‘s, Indo-Asean relations have been continuously on the upswing2.India’s Look East PolicyIndia‘s notable presence in the global arena can be evidently discerned from its dynamic foreign policyorientation as well as from a number of enterprising collaborative ventures with other nations. In the earlynineties the then Indian Prime Minister P.V.NarsimhaRao initiated a new chapter as the ‗Look-East Policy‘ inIndian foreign policy paradigm. The Look-East Policy portrays a strategic shift in India‘s vision of the worldand India‘s position in the rapidly developing global economy. Since the time of inception of the Policy Indiaand ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) have embarked upon multiple bilateral, regional andsub-regional initiatives for the flourishing pursuit of the Policy3.The Look East Policy of India, framed by the NarasimhaRao government in the early nineties, is a substantialmanifestation of India‘s focused foreign policy orientation towards South East Asia; an immensely resourcefuland flourishing region. The economy of South East Asia is a virtually untapped market which is up for grabsby major regional economic entities such as India, China, Europe or the USA. India‘s compatibility with theSouth East Asian countries with regard to better regional cooperation lies in the fact of its abstinence fromexhibiting hegemonistic ambitions, making it more benign towards South East Asia. The camaraderie between
  4. 4. India and South-East Asia is clearly visible through the dynamic persuasion of India‘s Look-East Policy. Indiaand ASEAN reciprocally have embarked upon a number of initiatives for rejuvenating their ties in multipleareas. Frequent tête-à-tête from both the sides promulgates better implementation of the Policy. The improvingintensification of economic linkages with ASEAN has inspired India to enter into the second phase of itsLook-East Policy. Phase 2 is the deviation from complete economic issues to the broader agenda involvingsecurity cooperation, actively constructing transport corridors and erecting pillars of linkages and connectivity.This phase of India‘s Look-East Policy renders ample relevance to the development of its North-EasternRegion because of its geographical proximity to South-East Asia. The North-Eastern tip of India consisting ofcontiguous seven sister states- Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripuraand the state of Sikkim – constitutes a unique narrow passageway connecting the Indian subcontinent to Eastand South-East Asia and acts as a crucial corridor for human migration between these areas. The North-Eastregion because of its favourable geographic location, cradled by the Himalayas in the north , Bay of Bengal inthe south and flanked by 5 Asian countries- Nepal, Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh, acts as agateway to South-East Asia. There are ample possibilities for North-East India to reap benefits from India‘sthriving relations with South East Asia as the process of globalisation provides the countries with theopportunities to grapple with cross-market accessibility and enabling them alleviate their poverty andeconomic backwardness4.The Look-East Policy is being embarked upon with the presupposition that the improving trade ties betweenIndia and ASEAN will certainly elevate the North- East out of the menace of insurgency, poverty andeconomic backwardness. The Look-East Policy is expected to usher in a new era of development for the NorthEast through network of pipelines, connectivity, communication and trade.The ASEAN-India car rally of 2003 was a notable initiative undertaken by the Indian government toemphasise on the geographic proximity between North-East India and South-East Asia. Moreover, India hasundertaken some bilateral and multilateral projects for boosting connectivity between the North-East and SouthEast Asia. The important ongoing and potential infrastructure projects in this regard are Moreh-Tamu-KalewaRoad, India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, Trans Asian Highway, India- Myanmar rail linkages,Kaladan Multimodal project, the Stilwell road, Myanmar-India-Bangladesh gas or oil pipeline, TamanthiHydroelectricity project and optical fiber network between North East India and South East Asia5.But certainobstacles like lack of infrastructural development, absence of enthusiastic response from local people, frequentinsurgencies, poor governance in the states, the easy availability of arms and weapons from across theinternational border to be utilised in armed movements and criminal activities impede increased relationsbetween North-East India and South East Asia. Moreover, the geographic location of the North-Eastern regionmakes it more vulnerable to be the core of hostility with massive negative outcomes.
  5. 5. As India‘s External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said during his inaugural address at the recent India-ASEANDelhi Dialogue III, ―It has been a gratifying engagement for us, an engagement which has drawn strength fromIndia‘s rapidly developing bilateral ties with individual ASEAN countries, and from our millennia-old bondswith the countries and civilizations of the region.‖Reflecting on the kind of role that India sees for itself and the extension of its own democratic nature to itsregional calculations, India‘s National Security Adviser ShivshankarMenon remarked at the Dialogue III,―‘From the Indian point of view it (the new Asian security order) should be open, it should be flexible and itshould be inclusive. This is essential for the order to work.‖ India‘s strengthening relations with the individualcountries of the ASEAN and the regional body at large is mutually reinforcing.The foreign policy vision of a rising India should reflect an enlargement of vision and a continuous efforttowards cultivation of resources to increase its zone of influence, albeit in a more diplomatic and friendlymanner without evoking sentiments that could brand India as a meddling power. Undoubtedly, this is basicallywhere India could chart out a more benign space for itself in the South-East Asian region despite theoverwhelming presence of the Chinese power. As Krishna said, ―We feel that the principles of Statesovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of others must be the bedrock of our cooperativeendeavours.‖ India‘s strategic and diplomatic maneouvers in South-East Asia are signs of its intent to play amore substantial role in Asia.As such, India and its relations with the ASEAN countries have a major role in shaping the future of Asia, andby repercussions the future of international politics. During the Delhi Dialogue III, Menon also reflected on thesuccess of India-ASEAN cooperation in tackling piracy in the Malacca Straits and called for replicating thecooperation model for promoting the new security architecture too for the region. He also emphasized thatAsia, as the fastest developing region had to deal with security issues and it had ―the most to lose frominstability and insecurity in the international system.‖ The shifting nature of power is something constant ininternational politics, and the 21st century is being already labelled an Asian century, in which the two risinggiants, India and China will definitely play a big role. As the saying goes: With great powers, comes greatresponsibilities, India is at a great juncture in its history, travelling an upward journey to major power status.According to sources, India and ASEAN are expected to widen their trade engagement by signing a free tradeagreement (FTA) next year that will cover services and investment. ―Next year, we will celebrate our 20thanniversary and it would be a commemorative summit…let‘s hope that at the summit, we will be able todeliver a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) (between India and ASEAN), because sofar it is only in goods,‖ ASEAN Secretary General SurinPitsuwan said. Recall, India and ASEAN hadimplemented Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in goods in January last year and are engaged in intensenegotiations to expand this pact to include services and investments.
  6. 6. According to sources, India and the ASEAN are committed to achieving a trade target of $70 billion by 2012,up 40 per cent from $50 billion in 20106.India ASEAN CuluturalSimilarties And LinguisticAttachmentsThere are enough avenues through which North East India can be related to South-East Asia. Racial, linguisticand cultural similarity prevails among the people of North-East India and those of South-East Asia. If theconcerned governments really strive to translate their policies into reality their collaborative endeavors wouldinvariably revive age-old cultural and historical bonds. To highlight the linguistic attachment it should bestated that it is an area of extensive linguistic diversity with predominantly three language familiesrepresented- Austro-Asiatic, Indo-European and Tibeto- Burman. Austro-Asiatic languages are now spoken bya single group in North-East India (the Khasi) but they are also found in East India and South-East Asiareflecting that they might have been more frequent in North-East in the past. Indo- European language isspoken from Europe to Central and South Asia with their easternmost occurrence in Nepal, Bangladesh andNorth-East India. Tibeto- Burman languages are a branch of Sino- Tibetan family which is mainly spoken inNorth-East India, China and South-East Asia. Thus North-East India sets up an important linguistic contactzone. Through centuries there has been exchange of peoples, goods and services between our North-East andcountries of South and South-East Asia. The Ahoms of Assam migrated several centuries ago from the Shanstate of Burma where the language spoken is almost identical to that spoken in Laos and Thailand. The Chinsfrom Myanmar migrated over the past centuries to Manipur and Meities of Manipur have ties for over 2000years with the Burmans of Myanmar.Similar migration has also occurred to North-East from Yunan province of China. Boosting people to peoplecontact transcending political barriers is an imperative for facilitating cultural interaction among variousregions. In contemporary era, physical connectivity is of utmost importance as it channelises the means toaccelerate the movement of goods, people and services and thereby acts as a gateway to reviving economicenterprise. Advanced communication and interaction would foster trade, commerce and tourism prospects inthe entire North-East region. But because of the existing hurdles the people of North East region are quiteapprehensive about the developmental strategies and consider it as mere rhetoric. It will be fatal for India in thelong run if its government ever tries to get integrated with South East Asia by using North-East as a channelfor its economic progress. The people of the North-East should not feel ostracised from the mainstream oneand simultaneously need to be convinced of the genuine concern of the government about the overallbetterment and security of the region. Thence, it can be asserted that India‘s North-East Region is a soliddomain in orchestrating India‘s Look-East Policy. The development of the region is a stepping stone towardsthe success of the policy.
  7. 7. India ASEAN Economic Relations After India’s LookEast PolicyIndia has had close cultural and economic ties with Southeast-Asian countries throughout the history. But withthe significant changes that occurred in the world‘s politics and economic scenario since the early 1990‘s andIndia‘s own march towards economic liberalization has compelled India to focus on strengthened andmultifaceted relationship with ASEAN countries.Besides, ASEAN‘s political and strategic importances in the larger Asia-Pacific-Region and its potential tobecome a major partner of India in the area of trade and investment have encouraged India to seek closerlinkage with these countries. Keeping theses points in mind a conscious effort was begun in 1991 to reach outthese ASEAN countries through our ―Look East Policy‖. With the eastward expansion of ASEAN to includeMyanmar, India and ASEAN countries are no longer just remain maritime neighbours but share a landboundary of over 1600 K.m2. It now provides a land bridge for India to connect with Asia-Pacific-Centredeconomic crosscurrents shaping with 21st century market place. On the other hand ASEAN seeks to India‘sprofessional and technical strengths. Apart from recognizing India‘s emergence as attractive trade partner andinvestment destination, ASEAN has also increasingly comes to see it as a stabilizing factor in the region. Theconvergence of interest of India and ASEAN in various fields provides further impetus to explore thepossibilities which takes this relationship at its zenith in 21st century.India‘s relations with the major powers and her neighbouring nations have been conditioned by the changingcontours of the international environment. Military and domestic political necessities have also influenced thenature of the policy towards particular regions at different moments. The relations between India and the SouthEast Asian nations can be explored in this context. The links between India and South East Asia have followeda non-linear course. While the need to combat colonialism induced a sense of solidarity among the nations inthe early twentieth century, the East-West rivalry of the Cold War era made their political, security andeconomic interests divergent. The geo-strategic and economic realities of the post Cold War period havepropelled India and South-East Asia to forge strong economic and security ties. The potential of India andSouth East Asian relations and cooperation is yet to be exploited fully but consistent initiatives have mademost analysts and observers hopeful. The role of ASEAN and the Look East policy (Phases 1 and 2) initiativeby the Indian government have been most crucial in this regard. Situated in the Asian subcontinent, South-EastAsian nations form the second ring of neighbouring states for India. Thus, the veering towards Southeast Asiannations at this juncture found a legitimate platform in India‘s strategic thinking. The visits of Rajiv Gandhi tovarious capitals of the member countries of ASEAN were a landmark attempt to establish rapport with theSoutheast Asian nations. Also, his visit to reengage China (December 1988) Japan and Australia was anindication that India was being driven to the East7. Rising Security Concerns: In the wake of the 9/11 andespecially after Southeast Asia was designated as the ‗second front of terrorism‘, the security dimension has
  8. 8. assumed tremendous importance in India-ASEAN relations. The Bali bombing of 2004 has particularlyexposed the seamier side of the connection between international terror networks and their local outfits8. Indiaand ASEAN states have explored the possibility of establishing joint working groups to combat this newthreat. Indian leaders have been vocal about pressing for a more coordinated effort to tackle traditional andnon-traditional security threats.India ASEAN Avenues Of Security CooperationBased On Evolving Convergences Maritime security, combating and containing terrorism and transnational crime. Preventing the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction, human trafficking and trafficking in small arms. Confidence building, conflict prevention and resolution Energy and environment preservation Promotion of democracy, human rights, peace, development and disarmament9. India-ASEAN functional cooperation includes cooperation in sectors such as, Science & Technology, Human Resources Development, Health and Pharmaceuticals, Space Sciences, Agriculture, Information & Communication Technology, Transport and Infrastructure, Tourism and Culture and Small and Medium Enterprises etc.Strategic Implications For India In Current ScenarioDefence and Security is a major area of future co-operation between India and ASEAN. No longer is securityof South Asia and Southeast Asia separate. Both the region has suffered from new threat of terrorism. Thus, toget rid of it, a global alliance for Counter Terrorism is need of the hour, where both India and ASEAN can playthe major role. The tsunami in the recent years has brought the issue of Disaster Mitigation as another possiblearea of cooperation. Besides, other transnational crimes such as trafficking particularly in women and children,cyber crimes, international economic crimes, environmental crimes, sea piracy and money laundering needs tobe checked through effective institutional linkages and programmes of cooperation giving priority toinformation exchange and capacity building. Making this cooperation more interesting at the 14th annualmeeting of the ARF in 2nd August 2007 in Manila, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee offers atraining module on Maritime Security, specifically for the ARF member-states, with themes of anti-piracy,search-and-rescue [missions], offshore and port security, anti-smuggling and narcotics control and anti-poaching operations.‖ The nucleus of the module would be ―capacity-building‖ for these and related aspects ofmaritime security. Thus, the prospect of cooperation in this area is tremendous. Another convergence ofinterest to foster closer cooperation in reforming of and democratizing the UN and its institution by makingthem more reflective of the contemporary realities, might strengthen the bond between India and ASEAN in21st century. In fact, both sides are eager for a multilateral world order with genuine role of the UN.
  9. 9. Emphasizing the importance of multilateralism in ASEAN Business Advisory Council at Kula Lumpur, IndianPM DrManMohan Singh said ―regional building block of multilateralism in an increasingly globalilsed world.Besides their co-operation in multilateral forum, particularly the WTO and in addressing the challenges ofeconomic, food, human and energy security will bring these two region more closer than ever before.Thus, the two sides have to work for more space for the developing and the least developed countries in theWTO. It is also expected that, India might convince all the ASEAN members to support its candidature for thepermanent membership in Security Council.India has made impressive progress on the defence and strategic front in changing situations. A sea change inthe political atmosphere that Southeast Asia witnessed in the aftermath of the cold war, especially after theCambodian issue was settled and looking at Vietnam as a potential ally of ASEAN, contributed to this in a bigway. Moreover, India‘s military might in the emergent Asian balance of power could not be ignored anylonger. The Southeast Asian nations began to look upon India as a power that could play a kind of ‗balancingrole‘ vis-à-vis China in particular. On the other hand, it was in India‘s interest to ensure that Southeast Asiawould not be dominated by a regional great power once it became obvious that the superpowers were going tobuild-down their presence, which coincided with a similar thinking within Southeast Asia. The upshot ofconvergence of interests was the genesis of a new strategic interaction with several of the ASEAN nations. Aunique advantage India enjoyed was that its military, despite being dominated by the Moscow suppliedequipment, had continued to maintain links with West Europe.Critical remarks with regard to the ambitions of the Indian Navy were replaced by many instances of greaterdefence cooperation. A number of confidence building measures (CBMs) that India undertook and greaterappreciation by the Southeast Asian countries of Indian maritime concerns ushered in a new era of cooperationwhich began to transcend beyond the naval contours. Aside from periodic naval exercises and the biannual get-together of regional navies, called the Milan, India has entered into bilateral defence cooperation agreementswith Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos, and Indonesia. India has also been actively involved in assisting thearmed forces of Myanmar and Thailand. For instance, Singapore has not only made use of India‘s missiletesting range to test its own guns and missiles, but also uses Indian facilities to train its naval personnel- thefirst time ever that India has done for a foreign country. Similarly, the Thai pilots are being trained in India togain experience to operate their aircraft carrier, and the Myanmarese get anti-insurgency training. India andIndonesia have also frequently conduct joint patrolling in the critical straits of Southeast Asia ensuring securityof sealanes of communication. It is notable that India‘s strategic engagement with Southeast Asia is thestrongest compared to any other Asian power. One reason why India has been relatively more successful isthat, apart from the absence of any border/territorial disputes and any historical baggage, India is seen to be nothaving any ‗ambitions‘ in and posing no security threat to the region10.
  10. 10. ASEAN-INDIA Dialogue RelationsIndia dialogue relations have grown rapidly from a sectoral dialogue partnership in 1992 to a full dialoguepartnership in December 1995. The relationship was further elevated with the convening of the ASEAN-IndiaSummit in 2002 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. All these took place in a decade, which clearly signifies theimportance of the dialogue partnership to ASEAN and India and the progress made in the cooperation11. Thisreflects the confidence both ASEAN and India have in the dialogue partnership which is reflected by theexpanding and intensifying dialogue and cooperation in many sectors. ASEAN-India cooperation covers theeconomic, political and security, and development cooperation dimensions with a number of mechanismsestablished to promote dialogue and cooperation in these areas. In recent years, sectoral cooperation has beengaining strength with the establishment of working group level meetings in science and technology, transportand infrastructure, and small and medium scale enterprises12.Political And Security IssuesSince India became a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN, the collaboration has transcended the realm of functionalcooperation to cover political and security dimensions. India participates in a series of consultative meetingswith ASEAN which include the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Post Ministerial Conferences (PMCs)10+1 and 10+10. Since July 1996, India has been an active participant of the ARF. It views the ARF asvaluable process in promoting stable relationships between the major powers, and as a useful complement tothe bilateral alliances and dialogues between India and ASEAN Member Countries, which are at the heart ofthe region‘s security architecture13. ASEAN and India committed themselves to jointly contribute to thepromotion of peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific region and the world, and respond positivelyto the challenges of a dynamic regional and international environment. ASEAN and India are now intensifyingtheir political and security dialogue to add a new dimension to a mutually beneficial economic and commercialrelationship. Reflective of India‘s interest in intensifying its engagement with ASEAN, both sides now are inthe process of jointly developing an India-ASEAN Vision 2020, as a roadmap to mutually desired objectives.India ASEAN Bilateral RelationsIndia has strengthened its bilateral relations with all the South East Asian nations in the last two decades sincelaunching of the Look East Policy. High level visits of heads of states from most of these nations have takenplace. India has entered into a few bilateral Free Trade Agreements (Thailand) and economic cooperationagreements (Indonesia and Singapore). The high point of India‘s relations with Malaysia is the defencecooperation which began in 1993 and has developed over the years with annual meeting of the defencesecretaries, military training and supply of defence equipment. Special attention is being paid to the threeeconomically under developed countries, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, where there is enough scope andopportunity for India to extend its influence. Indonesia and Singapore has helped India to get into the East
  11. 11. Asia Summit despite objections from some other ASEAN members and China. Of all the South East Asiannations, Myanmar has a special place from India‘s strategic and security perspective.Look-East And The North-EastThe North Eastern States of India are often described as land locked. They are joined to the rest of India by anarrow land corridor that skirts the north of Bangladesh. This land corridor is only 21 to 40 Km in width andis known as the Chicken‘s Neck. This has been a serious impediment for the development of the region, whichhas lagged behind the rest of the country in terms of infrastructure and industrial development. With therelease of the document ―North Eastern Region Vision 2020‖ by the Prime Minister in July 2008 a seriouseffort has been made for socio-economic development of this region to match with the objectives of the LookEast Policy. Several measures have been undertaken under the aegis of the Look East policy to uplift NorthEast India such as the ―Asian Highway‖, ―Asian Railway link‖ and ―Natural Gas pipeline‖. The KaladanMulti-modal Transit Transport facility is aimed at establishing connectivity between Indian ports and Sittweport in Myanmar through riverine transport and road links in Mizoram. With the Ganga Mekong initiativethere is potential for direct flights between Guwhati -Ho-Chi Minh city – Imphal – Hanoi. This document(Vision 2020) admits that the Look East Policy has failed to uplift the North East in the last fifteen years or soas most of the goods from ASEAN is sent through the sea route as the land route is thought highly unsafe forreasons such as lack of infrastructure and insurgency.The China Factor: India Getting Preference OverChinaIn the cold war era, South East Asian nations perceived China as dangerous because of its militaryexpansionist scheme in Asia. While now the ―peaceful rise‖ of China is being considered more of anopportunity despite the challenges. China is virtually dominating the South East Asian region. The ASEAN-China Free Trade Area created by an accord in 2004 has come into effect from January 2010. This coversnearly 1.9 billion people. In terms of economic value this is the third largest regional agreement, after only theEU and the NAFTA. ―A new talking point in East Asia is that of the multi-laterisation or, more precisely, thelikely enlargement of the Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI) later this year. The CMI is basically a currency pool ofthe ASEAN+3 countries (China, Japan and South Korea).The move was a direct response to the recentoutbreak of the US-induced global and financial economic crisis, which has not fully blown away as now‖(P.S. Suryanarayana-Frontline January 29, 2010). China is predicted to overtake Japan as the world‘s secondlargest economy some time in 2010. India must be aware of the fact that it has not been invited to the EASbecause of its rising economic potential alone but more as a balancing force to offset the China factor. PrimeMinister Manmohan Singh has repeatedly mentioned that in a global environment, India is not afraid ofcompetition and it can complement rather than compete in the East Asia Summit (EAS)14. China is virtually
  12. 12. dominating this region. By the ASEAN-China Accord entered into in November 2004 (during the10th ASEAN Summit in Vientiane), the world‘s biggest free trade area has been created removing all tariffs.The tariff cuts that began in 2005 will be completed by 2010 drawing the ASEAN‘s combined economies ofUS $ 1 trillion closer to China‘s US $ 1.4 trillion. In the Cold war era, India perceived China as dangerouscountry because of its high military expenditure and ambitious plans in this field. But now the image of Chinahas changed and now is seen as an economic powerhouse. To gain confidence and to build trust among theAsian countries Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, said in a speech during the last ASEAN Summit that ―China willcontinue to seek peace and development through cooperation and will strive to achieve development that willbring about peace, openness, cooperation and harmony as well as benefit to itself and other countries‖. Despitethe remarks of the Chinese Premier some analysts are of the opinion that China preferred a smaller Asiangrouping (without U.S., India, Australia and New Zealand) that can integrate quickly on the economic frontand which China can influence more significantly. Perhaps it is this increasing influence of China and itsmotives that had prompted countries like Singapore and Indonesia to cooperate with India, Australia and NewZealand into the EAS. Hence India must be aware that it has not been invited to EAS because of its risingeconomic potential alone but more as a balancing force to offset the China factor. Although it is being said thatIndia and China are not rivals and they can complement rather than compete in the EAS.China‘s growing presence and influence in the region, economic and strategic makes diversified relationshipwith India necessary for Southeast Asia. With the US down-scaling its relations with the region, many believethat India will provide added stability and security to the region. In the immediate future, India and ASEANcountries must intensify their cooperation both at the bilateral and regional levels to combat common threats tosecurity that have the potential of shaking the very foundations of the polity. Since India‘s north-eastern regionis being recognised as the ‗corridor to South East Asia, integration with the traditional neighbouring regionslike Myanmar, Bangladesh and Thailand should be facilitated through transportation networks and this wouldcontribute to sustained peace and development. It maybe stated therefore, that changing political, economicand security considerations condition the bilateral or multilateral policy ties of any country and India-SoutheastAsia relations is no exception to this. The potential of the relations must be carefully cultivated bypolicymakers and strategists as Southeast Asia is likely to remain a viable foreign and security policy optionfor India in its quest to establish its geo-political and economic prowess in the years to come. As India deepensits ties and employs pragmatic diplomacy to increase its influence in South-East Asia, the repercussions inIndia-China relations are inevitable. China considers itself the unchallenged ―dragon‖ of the Asian Continent;hence the Indian ―elephant‖ strides would be unsettling. But if Indian foreign policies manage to ruffle feathersand unsettle the Chinese strategic community, then India must have been doing something right.The South China Sea Disputes And Indian Policy
  13. 13. In recent weeks (October2011), statements by Chinese officials reasserting China‘s ―indisputable sovereignty‖over the South China Sea and warnings to India against investment in the region are seen as signs of Chineseaggressiveness that would inevitably precipitate conflict. Suggestions for greater Indian involvement in theSouth China Sea disputes are made on the grounds that India must be forceful in its dealings with China. Thecontinuation of ONGC Videsh Limited‘s (OVL) investments in Vietnamese energy fields is certainlyadvisable. In fact, there is nothing to indicate that the Indian government is thinking otherwise. OVL‘spresence in Vietnam is not a recent phenomenon. Its first joint-venture for offshore oil and natural gasexploration in Vietnam‘s LanTay field along with Petro Vietnam and BP became functional in 2003. Deals forthe investments now in the headlines were signed in May 2006; this is a project that will not be halted becauseof oblique Chinese statements. India simply need not take heed of Chinese views on Indian economic ventures.In the aftermath of statements by the US and skirmishes over fishing vessels, ASEAN and China agreed uponThe Guidelines on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea atthe Bali Summit in July 2010. Recent tensions may well prod the parties towards a more binding code ofconduct. This is not to suggest that territorial claims and sovereignty issues will be resolved, but certainly canbecome more manageable to prevent military conflict. A revision of Indian policy on the issue should be basedon a clear understanding of what India stands to gain and how Indian national interest is strengthened. India‘srelationships with South East Asian countries are not uni-dimensional. They are not geared only towardschecking the Chinese imprint in the region but are reflective of India‘s multifarious interests globally. Asregards military support for OVL‘s operations, the issue should be reflected upon seriously. It is one thing tobuild capabilities in order to deter misadventure, quite another to back investment with military might. This isa matter that will affect Indian ventures globally15.Advantages Of The India’s Look East PolicyLook east policy has helped India in strengthening its place in the global economy and gets a better deal in itsinteractions outside the region. America and European countries had entered into a lot of different mutualagreement which has further increased their reputation and bargaining power. India was in danger of isolationin the global economy. India was not getting its due importance. But due to its Look east policy India economyis getting integrated with the Asian economy, so India gets support from Asian countries which have increasedIndia‘s importance at global level.East Asia’s Strengths India’s Strengths1) Electronic equipment Computer Software2) Heavy engineering Light engineering and pharmaceuticals3) Product development and marketing Process development4) Underutilized capacity in construction Huge potential demand
  14. 14. Look east policy has helped India in strengthening its place in the global economy and gets a better deal in itsinteractions outside the region. America and European countries had entered into a lot of different mutualagreement which has further increased their reputation and bargaining power. India was in danger of isolationin the global economy. India was not getting its due importance. But due to its Look east policy India economyis getting integrated with the Asian economy, so India gets support from Asian countries which have increasedIndia‘s importance at global level.Short Comings In The India’s Look East Policy India still remains outside the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum India has entered into a number of pacts, agreements and FTAs with nations of ASEAN but its record for implementation of such accords has been poor. The Indian industry has doubts about its own competitive efficiency or it does not want competition at home or it is scared of cheaper exports to India from these countries. India lags behind China and Japan in almost all spheres of Pan East Asian cooperation, East Asian observers reckon that India has so far appeared less proactive than China on some critical issues. Some analysts feel that India‘s Look East Policy lacks a strategic vision despite seeking defense cooperation with some ASEAN nations (Myanmar, Indonesia and Vietnam) and securing a role for joint patrolling in the Malacca Straits. India does not take an assertive role perhaps due to it limited military capability There are some domestic political compulsions which impinge on the desired reforms and the struggle the liberalization process is undergoing in the ―minds of our people‖. India has come under harsh criticism for the big negative items list and the delay of over six years in finalizing the ASEAN-India FTA.India should go ahead with proper implementation of the pacts, agreements and FTAs without bothering aboutthe aforementioned factors. The Indian industry will ensure that India will always gain from thesearrangements.The Look East policy did not find Japan on its radar and failed to improve India‘s economic ties with it. Tradewith Japan actually declined dramatically dropping its share to one-third of its level of 7 per cent in 1993. Oneof the causes, of course, was the fact that the Japanese economy was stagnate during this period. But still it isdifficult to explain the reason behind this dramatic drop. This was the biggest failure of Look east policy.Failure to involve Japan and a build economic relationship with it also resulted in closing the doors onJapanese foreign direct investment (FDI). But now the situation is getting better and trade with Japan isincreasing. During 1993-2003, Japan‘s global FDI averaged at $ 50 billion a year, of which India received $220 million a year or less than one-fourth of 1 per cent! Even at the regional level, India received just 2 percent of Japanese FDI. (China‘s share was 10 times higher at 22 per cent).
  15. 15. Improving Border InfrastructureThe lack of proper cross-border transit points and integrated transport networks has posed major challenges.To facilitate growth of border trade the Union Minister of Commerce has introduced an Export DevelopmentFund (EDF) for the Northeast traders and entrepreneurs. There is no provision to track where and how thesefunds are utilized. International trade centres at the border points and connecting these points through theexisting roads to state capitals is vital, as is coordination in banking operations, such as extending bankingservices and ATM booths, telecommunication network at the border points to improve trade activities.Maintaining and monitoring the functioning of the major border points such as Moreh, Tamu and Tiddim (inManipur) and Champhai (in Mizoram) should be the priority. Till date only the 160 km Tamu-Kalaywa-Kalemyo Road connecting Moreh to Myanmar has been accomplished. This road will eventually become apart of the Asian Highway. However, the completion of this project has not been able to bring any economicdevelopment for the region, due to increase in informal trade. In addition, exploring and developing newpoints-Lungwa/Ledo, Pongru and Pokhungri in Nagaland and Nampong, Vijayanagar and Khimiyang inArunachal Pradesh are needed. The Manipur Commerce and Industries Minister had proposed an alternativeborder point-Behiang in Manipur‘s Churachandpur district along the Indo-Myanmar border which needsconsideration. The proposal to upgrade the Rih-Tidim and Rih-Falam road, which will operationalize theIndia-Myanmar border trading point at Rih-Zokhawthar in Mizoram along with the Moiwa-Chindwin-Thailandtrilateral highway project, needs immediate attention16.Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has embarked on a journey to the east to Japan, Malaysia andVietnam from 24-30 October 2010. The Prime Minister‘s visit is to reiterate India‘s commitment to furtherstrengthen multifaceted bilateral relations with Southeast Asian and East Asian countries. The first visit byManmohan Singh to Malaysia as Prime Minister will be a landmark in reinforcing the rich cultural andhistorical links between India and Malaysia. This visit marked by talks on economic cooperation, integration interms of infrastructure development, information technology, bio-technology, defence, railways, energycooperation and greater-people-to-people linkages. This meeting will see the inauguration of the first meetingof the Malaysia-India CEO Forum and revival of the highway project between India and Malaysia that hasbeen long delayed. India is also hoping to conclude the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement(CECA) with Malaysia that has been in discussion since 2008 and which Kuala Lumpur appears to bedelaying. It needs to be remembered that so far, out of the 10 ASEAN countries, only Vietnam, Malaysia,Thailand and Singapore have ratified the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement with India. Mr Singh visitedVietnam for the 8th India-ASEAN Summit and the 5th East Asia Summit held on 30 October 2010. Indianleaders will hold bilateral talks with ASEAN and EAS leaders on the sidelines of the summits. The India-ASEAN summit will have the India-ASEAN Plan of Action for 2010-15 as the big item on its agenda. BothIndia and ASEAN are keen to liberalize the trade in services and investments that will provide new
  16. 16. opportunities for the expansion of trade between them. ASEAN under its connectivity scheme looks forward toimplementing the Comprehensive Asian Development Plan that will provide a road linking India withASEAN, creating the Mekong-India economic corridor. The East Asian Summit that will be held on the sameday will deliberate on energy, environment, financial cooperation, education and plans for a ComprehensiveEconomic Partnership of East Asia (CEPEA) and the creation of the Economic Research Institute of ASEANand East Asia (ERIA). The Indian Prime Minister is likely to also discuss bilateral ties with Vietnameseleaders. Both India and Vietnam approved setting up of a joint committee to strengthen their cooperation in thetrade, investment and agricultural production sectors earlier this year. India has extended support to Vietnam toenhance and upgrade its capabilities in the defence sector and to help Vietnam to train forces for maintaininginternational peace and stability. Vietnam, on the other hand, will provide assistance in the repair andmaintenance of Indian naval ships. Both the countries will share their experience and knowledge bydeveloping linkages and cooperation among their defence institutions. All of these have implications for theSouth China Sea disputes and show that India is taking a greater interest in security matters in the region.While the most important drive for Singh‘s visit is economic cooperation, India also needs to address severalother issues. One is the matter of the rights and status of the Indian diaspora settled in Southeast Asiancountries. For instance, ethnic Indians in Malaysia suffer from various kinds of discrimination. Next, Indiashould revive and deepen its regional engagement through the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation initiative and withother regional schemes such as BIMSTEC, as well as initiate more cooperation with the ADB, World Bank,and IMF that will help in providing assistance in facilitating trade and promoting development in the region.Meanwhile, ASEAN should extend its supportive hand to India‘s entry to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation(APEC) and in the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization (CMIM), a mechanism created in March 2010 tohelp manage future regional financial crises. At the same time, India should also continue to pursue bilateralFTAs with each ASEAN nation17.ConclusionEach ASEAN nation has its own characteristics – some are supportive of India, some are predominantlyMuslim, some are economically more developed then India, some are underdeveloped and one is a closeneighbor influencing the security of India. Hence India should tailor the bilateral relations with every countryin different way to suit the requirements of that particular country and that of India. ASEAN and EAS holdgreat promise for India. Adequate interaction with these groupings will result in better integration with thisregion and facilitate India economic development. Indian businesses which are looking to go global will gethuge markets in other countries. They will be able to export their goods and get a market share because of lowtariffs due to the pacts, agreements and FTAs. Although foreign companies will also get this advantage butIndian companies will be able to compete with these because of their competitiveness. CMI and emergingFTAs / RTAs between Asian countries provide foundations for a broader and more ambitious initiative to takethe existing India-ASEAN relationship to a higher level, like an Asian Economic Community, which
  17. 17. constitutes ASEAN, China, Japan, Korea and India as member countries. Such a community would be roughlythe size of the European Union in terms of income, and bigger than NAFTA in terms of trade. It would accountfor half the world‘s population and it would hold foreign exchange reserves exceeding those of the EU andNAFTA put together. This can give a greater push to Indian growth.Indian policy-makers should create such a scenario where India‘s arrival as a major power in the internationalsystem should not be seen as a liability but as an asset by the ASEAN countries. In recognizing India‘s staturein regional Asian and international politics, these countries should see a reflection of their rising opportunitiesfor their own countries in an inclusive, healthy and peaceful Asian order. To make them realize their ownsuccess in the success of India would indeed be the litmus test for present and future Indian policy-makers.India‘s objectives in Look East Policy can be furthered through areas—education (human resourcesdevelopment), democracy and culture—where it has a comparative advantage over Asian countries. In thiscontext the Nalanda project which envisages the setting up of an international university is noteworthy. Indiahas a lead in Information Technology. Many South East Asians are not only interested in our IITs and IIMs butalso want campuses opened in places like Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. Tourism is an area where much can bedone to reverse the trend of more Indians going to South East Asia (Singapore) for shopping. Places ofBuddhist interest like, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Nalanda and places of Muslim interest like TajMahal,FatehpurSikri Ajmer, and Hyderabad have to be suitably promoted for establishing people to people contacts.At the strategic level, India‘s Look East policy envisages the ASEAN states and Japan as key partners in EastAsia. Ties with South Korea are also strengthening. With India-US relations also expanding in scope andcontent, India can become a stabilizing and balancing force in this region. India‘s inclusion ab initio into theGroup of Twenty Economies (G-20) has boosted its image in this region. Six of the 20 (Australia, China,Japan, India, Indonesia and South Korea) are from East Asia. The crux is that this Look East policy shouldreinforce and demonstrate India‘s commitment to this region which accounts for about one-third of India‘strade. It should also be made clear that this commitment will not be influenced in any way by the improvingrelations between India and the US and EU. The dialogue process with ASEAN is meant to complement andaugment India‘s bilateral relations with the Southeast Asian neighbours. There is much more that can beachieved. It is up to India and ASEAN to seize the initiative. The potential is huge and as they say, the sky isthe limit. However, at the political level, India intends to gain more support for its candidature for permanentmembership of the UN Security Council and to create a framework to mark 20 years of ASEAN-IndiaDialogue during the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit in 2012 in New Delhi.Besides building defence cooperation, the LEP has also helped India to get its own security needs betterunderstood in the region. May 1998, when Pokharan-II (the test explosions of five nuclear devices) took place,the Western members of the ARF as well as Japan and Australia expressed strong reservations anddisapproval, and imposed sanctions on India. These reservations have since melted away and both Japan and
  18. 18. Australia are trying their best to make for the lost time and opportunities in India. The ASEAN countriesshowed considerable understanding, at least informally through bilateral diplomatic channels, of India‘ssecurity predicament. A number of ASEAN members are willing to support India‟ s permanent membership ofthe UN Security Council (UNSC). Understanding has also been shown to India‟ s position during the Kargilconflict and the persisting challenge of cross-border terrorism to India‟ s stability and political harmony.Thanks to the 9/11 events, today India‟ s concern with regard to cross-border terrorism is also betterunderstood and appreciated among its eastern neighbours. The security significance of this region has beenfurther reinforced in the context of 9/11 events and the global war on terrorism, as India is also one of the mostseriously affected victims of this menace. Reports about Al-Qaeda and Jihadi forces having links in the wholeof Southeast Asia surface frequently. With the Islamic rebellions of differing intensity raging in variouscountries of the region like Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar, the threat of global jihad linking upwith regional extremists will continue to loom large on the region.As there are no basic conflicts in the bilateral relations between India and ASEAN Nations and given theirshared perceptions of the regional strategic environment defence collaboration offers new opportunities forBoth India and ASEAN Nations to further strengthen their relations in the 21st century. Now that India hasbecome a summit partner of ASEAN, it provides an opportunity for the top leadership to visit Southeast Asiaevery year for exchange of views with counterparts. The three distinct features of the Look East policy are:one, India has managed to develop a multi-faceted relationship; two, successful defence diplomacy has beenput in place; and three India is not averse to participate in regional multilateralism, security or economic.India‘s connectivity diplomacy in the Southeast Asian region is also Breflective of its invigorating ‗Look East‘policy. Linking itself to far-flung places in Southeast Asia will not only help integrate India into the region, butalso offer it decisive economic and strategic advantages.However, New Delhi needs to speed up its efforts, otherwise its sluggish approach will fail to deliver long-term results. However, Indian policy makers have used this ―opening-up‖ to strengthen ties with the militaryregimes in Bangladesh and Myanmar and launch counter insurgency movements against the groups fromNorth Eastern India. More than the development of backward north eastern states and ending their isolationthrough re-establishing their historical cultural and economic ties, the military and security establishment hashigh-jacked the policy to fight insurgents from the region.Author:Asif Ahmed, is Assistant Professor. Defence& Strategic Studies. Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra.(Haryana) India asifahmed081@gmail.comReferences1. India-ASEAN Future: Crucial For ASIA Growth, By Monish Tourangbam, Research Scholar, School of
  19. 19. International Studies (JNU) accessed electronically at Indo-ASEAN Relations on the Upswing. Reinforcing ‗Look East‘ Policy {An article by Minister of State for External Affairs Mr.E.Ahamed}, TheMEA website, accessed electronically at India‘s Look East Policy: Prospects and Challenges for Northeast India-3, accessed electronically at Julien Levesque, NorthEast in India‘s Look East Policy, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi,May 6, 2008, accessed electronically at$cID=96. Ibid.17. S. D. Muni and C. Raja Mohan, ‗Emerging Asia; India‘s Options‘, International Studies, Volume 31Number 4, Sage Publications, 2004, pp 319-321.8. KripaSridharan ― The ASEAN Region in India‘s ‗Look East‘ Policy‖ in India and ASEAN; Foreign PolicyDimensions For the 21st Century, K. Raja Reddy (ed.), New Centuries Publications 2005, Part I, Chapter 7, p130.9. A.N Ram, ‗India‘s Foreign Policy in the Asia-Pacific: Contemporary Issues, Area Studies: A Journal ofInternational Studies and Analyses, Volume 1, Number 1, January 2001, p.23.10. Looking East: India and Southeast Asia, G. V. C. Naidu ,Research Fellow, Institute for Defence Studiesand Analyses, India. Revised version of the paper presented at the Institute of International Relations (IIR)-Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) Second Roundtable Conference, October 27-28, 2004,Taipei, Taiwan.11. accessed electronically at ASEAN-INDIA DIALOGUE RELATIONS. As of March 2011, Accesed from the official website ofASEAN at accessed electronically at India‘s Look East Policy - A Review, By C. S. Kuppuswamy Paper no. 3662. The South China Sea Disputes: Why conflict is not Inevitable. Rukmani Gupta, IDSA COMMENT.October 17, 2011, Linking India‘s NorthEastwithSouthEast Asia: Significance of Internal Connectivity & BackwardIntegration. PanchaliSaikia IB175-SEARP-Panchali.pdf17. Manmohan Singh In SouthEast Asia. PanchaliSaikia, Research Officer, IPCS SouthEast Asia – Articles#3267, 27 October 2010.
  20. 20. 16About the author:Asif AhmedAsif Ahmed is Assistant Professor at the University of Kurukshetra, teaching defense and strategic studies. Heholds an MA in Defence& Strategic Studies (Punjabi University) with couple of other post graduate degrees inMass Communications and Journalism. Professor Asif Ahmed has published one book on national security ofIndia and authored articles in English, Punjabi, and Hindi languages in various newspapers, magazinesjournals, and has also edited chapters in books at the national and international levels. For some time he alsoparticipated in Live Radio Talks and Phone in counseling programs at the AIR Patiala station in India.Professor Ahmeds areas of interests are National Security of India, Distance Education, Human RightsEducation, and Environment Education. He may be reached at and blogsat asifahmed081.blogspot.inAsifAhmedJuly 9, 2012Analysis2 CommentsNepal: Applying An Integrated Approach To The Struggle Against Poverty – OpEdFederer Back On Top OfThe World With Wimbledon Win AND INDIA’S SECURITY INTERESTSGuest Column-by Col R Hariharan (retd.)India pulled out of the Dhaka SAARC summit citing reasons of security considerations. This is the fifthtime India had done so in the brief history of the seven-nation alliance. The take over of power by theKing in Nepal and the security situation in Bangladesh have understandably discouraged the Indianprime minister from participating in the SAARC summit. The Indian Prime Minister was fully justified inhis decision because the nation cannot afford to take a chance of visiting Dhaka particularly whenintelligence agencies indicated the possibility of a terrorist attack on him there during the summit.Dhaka’s law enforcing agencies’ poor record of responding to terrorist threats in the past and thecontinued failure to protect senior political leaders from bomb attacks there have further increased thegravity of such warnings.The event was a big one for Bangladesh and Begum Khaleda who had been trying to refurbish thecountry’s image, which had been tarnished by jihadi violence and lawlessness. However, the way Delhiconveyed its decision did not appear to take Bangladesh’s sensitivity to the issue. This is symptomatic ofthe way India handles its neighbours at times and trample upon their sensitivity. This was more sowhenIndia’s Foreign Secretary Mr. Shyam Saran touched upon SAARC in his speech on "India and itsNeighbours" at a meeting organized by the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, at New Delhi andindicated that there was more to it than Nepal situation or Bangladesh security situation.
  21. 21. While Mr Saran’s pronouncement might not be an official statement of policy, due to the choice ofvenue and the mode, it gave an inkling into the official foreign policy perceptions.Pointedly referring to Indias decision not to attend the SAARC summit in Dhaka, Mr. Saran explained,"Our approach to SAARC was the only one logically sustainable - we set aside our differing political andsecurity perceptions for the time being, and focus attention on economic cooperation. Our expectationwas that the very dynamic of establishing cross-border economic linkages, drawing upon thecomplementarities that existed among different parts of our region, would eventually help us overcomethe mutual distrust and suspicion which prevents us from evolving a shared security perception."But the record of SAARC founded in 1985, he said, has been "hardly inspiring". "The fact is that SAARC isstill largely a consultative body, which has shied away from undertaking even a single collaborativeproject in its 20 years of existence."From the above pronouncements it would appear that in official thinking in future SAARC might beconsidered as a forum less relevant to India. A strong section of foreign policy think tanks have alsohighlighted the growing irrelevance of SAARC to India as it is poised to grow as a strong global economicplayer. There are very good reasons to draw such a conclusion. The growing India-ASEAN economiclinkages, the improved bilateral India-Myanmar and India-Thai relations as a result of India’s look eastpolicy, and the continued stagnation in India’s relations with both Pakistan and Bangladesh are some ofthese. India’s problems in handling Bangladesh’s fixation with Indian ‘hegemony’ and Pakistan’s fivedecade old Kashmir preoccupation and its undisguised sponsorship of anti-Indian terrorism for a longtime have strengthened the growing doubts about the future of SAARC as a viable entity that meansbusiness.This raises a number of questions on the relevance of SAARC to the countries of the region and inparticular to India. All arguments both in favour and against the viability of SAARC published in themedia appear to have ignored the question of national security. Almost all successful associations ofnations - ASEAN, European Union, and now Organisation of African States – became effective only whenthey had security as the first consideration, because nations respond to economic links only when theyfeel secure with each other. A good example is the growth of EU from its early beginnings whenGermany and France decided to forget their historic rivalry and felt comfortable with each other.Significantly, at the same time the Benelux alliance of Britain, Netherlands and Luxemborg failed to takeoff when only an economic agenda was there. Even ASEAN came into being initially thanks to thenudging of the U.S. for countering the strategic threat of China to the trading routes of the West. So ifIndia has only economic aspects in mind as relevant to the SAARC, it is sure to limp along. Then SAARCmay well be dissolved because it is India’s attitudes that matter to SAARC’s survival. India not onlydwarfs all the other member countries, but it is the only country that shares a border with all otherSAARC countries.SAARC countries have a direct bearing on our national security. We have to view this in the context ofthe concept of strategic security moving away from mere territorial integrity. In the unipolar world withthe U.S. flexing its muscles too often, union of nations has become an important concept in the balance
  22. 22. of power equation. ASEAN and EU are two very good examples of the benefit of such collective wisdomand action.In this sub continent, there are three aspects of strategic security very relevant to India. These three –territorial security and integrity, economic security, and energy security – are core considerations if wedream of India as a major global power in 2020. In all these three aspects, a strong and vibrant SAARCcan make a true value addition. If we consider territorial integrity in the classical sense, all the countriesof SAARC may be viewed as providing depth to India’s strategic defence. So even if considered purely onthe basis of national security the member nations could be valuable vanguards of security or dangerouslaunch pads for offensive. Any collective body, which aims at better relations among these countries,would automatically strengthen their sense of security in their relations with India, the lynchpin of thecollective body.So we should view SAARC as a tool for furthering our strategic security in the long term. In this paper, itis proposed to examine India – Bangladesh relations in this context.Both Pakistan and Bangladesh have historical reasons rooted in the creation of Pakistan for their fearand suspicion of a strong India threatening their very existence, due to their perceived threat from Indiato their religious, cultural, social exclusivity and national identity. Can our relations with these countriesbe ever turned around from latent hostility even in peaceful times, to one of understanding, so that allthe smaller members of SAARC share the prosperity ushered in by bigger countries – India and Pakistan?Conceptually, this might appear far-fetched if viewed in the current context. But history is full ofexamples where diehard enemies became close allies after a few decades of hostility like Germany andFrance, and USA and Japan. Closer home Sri Lanka - India relations, which were very strained a few yearsback, are not only on the mend but are blooming into a new era of economic growth benefiting both.From the points of view of our territorial integrity and security as well as economic and energy security,Bangladesh is a very important power on our eastern border. Geographically it dominates our lines ofcommunication with the northeast, a valuable source of oil and other commodity resources for the restof India. The Machiavellian minds that delineated the territories into India and Pakistan at the time ofPartition, ensured that northeast is connected to the rest of India by a narrow corridor, hemmed in bythree nations. Of these Bangladesh on the south is the biggest. In military terms, the entire corridor iswithin artillery range from any of the three countries, notably from the northwestern salient ofBangladesh. The entire southern border of most of the northeastern region has Bangladesh on thesouthern border. This part of the border is easy to cross and any meaningful border control requires thecooperation of the two countries. Bangladesh also suffers from this vulnerability with India dominatingits entire land border on all sides except for 197 km in remote southeast corner bordering Myanmar. Soboth India and Bangladesh will always have over riding territorial security considerations in theirrelationship. This by itself becomes a major imperative for building friendly and equitable relationsbetween the two countries. And it is not the responsibility of only one country.To hasten the freedom for the country, our founding fathers had accepted the partition of India and thecreation of the two wings of Pakistan. The idea of Pakistan was mooted originally in the erstwhile East
  23. 23. Pakistan, the present day Bangladesh. Bangladeshis have a strong sense of Bangla nationality in additionto the unity of identity that is part of the very concept of Islam. It had been a part of Pakistan for overtwo decades, where schoolbooks have been doctored to show India and Hindus as historical enemies ofPakistan and Muslims. Entire generations have been fed on these fictions. So there is a historicalelement still surviving there which continues to perceive India’s relations with Bangladesh only in termsof Hindu-Muslim equation, despite India having more Muslims as citizens, living in amity with otherreligionists, than these two countries. Bangladesh as a new nation has a greater sense of insecurityfurther kindled by external agencies as well as radical Islamic elements. In India also we have sections ofpopulation, which view relations between these two breakaway products of partition, in terms of Hindu-Muslim antagonism, which aggravates the sense of insecurity.Some of the projects that are contemplated as part of our ‘look east’ policy like India-Bangladesh-Myanmar pipeline, the India-Myanmar-Thailand road link project and India’s river transit throughBangladesh have strong energy and economic security contents. The internal insurgency movements innortheast have economic backwardness as a major cause. All these projects are essential for thedevelopment of northeast as they open the eastern gateway to the whole ASEAN region. Many of theseprojects require Bangladesh’s participation or involvement. And these projects can be inclusive ofBangladesh and immensely benefit it as well. Unfortunately, narrow considerations have cloudedBangladesh’s perceptions on this.While mere bilateralism can clear the air and improve relations, invariably on a quid pro quo, it does notshare a broader vision of the region as a sphere of shared perspectives on strategic security and mutualprosperity. This is where an organization like SAARC becomes more meaningful if it is sensitive tonational security. Then only it can grow from an economic agenda into a much larger entity withregional security as a consideration as ASEAN has done.If India expects to be liked by neighbours at all times on all issues it may never happen. But as in anymature relationship, there is a need for mutual space between the nations. To create this space Indiahas to demonstrate both its sensitivity to its national security as well as its readiness to respond to thesensitivities of hypersensitive countries like Bangladesh. How we do it will determine the future of therelations between the two countries. From this point of view Mr. Saran’s depth finding exercise in plainspeak on our relations with neighbours is welcome. It clears the air to explain our sensitivity. But weneed to demonstrate what we say on two aspects. These are - We are sensitive to our security consideration without impinging upon the national sovereignty of our neighbours. And the neighbours can prosper along with India and have a share in India’s economic pie.Our record of translating the platitudes and clichés that crowd our policy statements to meaningfulaction is dismal. We have as a nation for decades neglected responding to the security and economicneeds of the country, which are closely connected with our relations with neighbours. Our response tocrises had been only knee-jerk at best. A sensitive and festering issue affecting the existence of nationalidentity like illegal migration in the northeast, had been used as a part of the political power game. It has
  24. 24. been handled in a slap dash fashion in fits and starts. Naxalite terrorism, which is affecting 152 districts in 12 states, is still treated as a law and order issue within the responsibility of the state government. This is one reason for the poor credibility India enjoys. In foreign policy pronouncements the need for correlation between words and action is even more important. If we can do that, SAARC will become a productive association of nations. If we cannot do so, we can concentrate only on bilateralism and forget about SAARC as a viable entity. So much would depend upon how we translate words into meaningful actions and results. Mr. Saran has said, "In a word, we are prepared to make our neighbours full stakeholders in Indias economic destiny and, through such cooperation, in creating a truly vibrant and globally competitive South Asian Economic Community." So Delhi has a challenge as to convince our neighbours that "India is an opportunity, not a threat, that far from being besieged by India, they have a vast, productive hinterland that would give their economies far greater opportunities for growth than if they were to rely on their domestic markets alone". Can we do it? At least we should make a concerted effort to do so.SUBMISSIONS » STAFF » ARCHIVES » ABOUT » LINKS » « back to table of contents SAARC Ineffective in Promoting Economic Cooperation in South Asia BY RAGHAV THAPAR Since its creation in December 1985, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has sought to increase economic unity between India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. While the organization was designed to improve both the economic and social progress of its member states, most scholars have focused on SAARC’s ability to promote economic cooperation among its members.1 South Asian scholars have attempted to compare SAARC efforts to increase economic cooperation with those of other regional trading bodies such as the European Union and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Unlike the EU or ASEAN, however, trade between the seven SAARC states has remained limited despite the fact that all are located within a close proximity of one another and all are part of the World Trade Organization (WTO). A growing emphasis on attracting foreign investment and seeking access to new markets in SAARC states indicates that economic progress is central to the future of South Asia. SAARC, however, is likely to play only a limited role in that future because of India’s considerable position of power over the other SAARC states. This imbalance of power within SAARC allows conflicts between India and its neighbors to undermine organizational unity. Clashes between South Asian countries end up
  25. 25. jeopardizing the creation and effectiveness of regional trade agreements. They also lead individual SAARC countries toadvance their economic interests through bi-lateral agreements, reducing the incentive to engage in multi-laterally. In thefuture, it seems likely that SAARC will act more as a forum to encourage regional discussion through conferences andseminars than as an architect for economic policy in South Asia.This paper will first analyze the growing importance of trade relations among South Asian states. It then discusses SAARC’shistorical problems with cooperation and how bi-lateral deals between member states have undermined the organizationas a whole. Finally, it examines SAARC’s role as a mediating agency and forum for discussion among South Asian leaders.Newfound Focus on Economic Growth in South AsiaOver the last thirteen years, the Indian government has increased its focus on economic development. Since 1991, when adebt crisis forced it to undertake a serious program of market oriented economic reform, India has gradually opened up itseconomy to the world. Over the time India has moved from a closed economy with heavy central planning to a moreprivatized economy with lower tariffs. This reform resulted in a seven percent growth rate for the economy from 1994-1997.2 Foreign investment in India also increased from $68 million in 1991 to $5 billion from 1996-97.3 To sustain thisgrowth, New Delhi has sought access to new markets and an increase in foreign investment. India’s foreign policy hasreflected the importance of these economic goals. India is increasing border trade with China and is seeking to establishtrade relations with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).4 New Delhi has placed a serious emphasis onturning India into an economic power. India is expected to become the world’s 4 th largest economy (in terms ofpurchasing power parity).5 It is unlikely that this emphasis on economic development will diminish in the near future. Themovement to market economics in 1991 brought “irreversible” changes in India’s economic thinking—changes that willforce India to constantly remain active in the global economy.6 The majority of Indian leaders, irrespective of their politicalparties, believe that globalization and privatization are necessary for India to reduce its mass poverty.7 This has resulted inthe gradual reduction of tariffs and other trade barriers over the past decade and a half. However, India is not the onlystate in South Asia seeking to expand its presence in new markets.Other SAARC states are also seeking to enhance their trade relations across the globe. India’s chief political rival, Pakistan,is openly seeking new markets and increased aid from countries in the European Union (EU) and Japan.8 It has alsostruggled to expand trade into Central Asia because of stiff competition from Japan, the EU and Russia. Nepal and Sri Lanka,both reliant on the Indian economy as a supplier and market for goods, would like to increase intra regional trade andforeign investment in its developing industries. Similarly, Bangladesh is also looking for new markets to export goods.9Sincea desire to expand trade in South Asia exists among the majority of SAARC nations, one would assume that SAARC wouldreceive more attention from South Asian states.Cooperation TroublesSAARC is structured in a way that often makes regional cooperation difficult. Thomas Thornton argues that in regionalorganizations it is difficult for “countries to establish balanced relations when one has a significant advantage in power overthe other states.”10 In the case of SAARC, India is the most powerful country in terms of its economic might, military powerand international influence. Thus, India’s potential as a regional hegemon gives SAARC a unique dynamic compared to anorganization such as ASEAN.11 Pakistan was initially reluctant to join SAARC due to fears of SAARC succumbing to Indian
  26. 26. hegemony. Indeed, if India does take a prominent role in SAARC, it could further fears that India will use SAARC forhegemonic purposes.12While the smaller states in South Asia recognize that they will need India’s help to facilitate fastereconomic growth, they are reluctant to work with India, fearing that such cooperation will admit Indian dominance inSAARC.13Aside from a few overtures to its neighbors, India has done little to allay the fears of other South Asian states. The core ofthese fears is likely derived from the displays of India’s power by New Delhi in the past. Realizing its considerable advantagein military and economic power, India has consistently acted in an “arrogant and uncompromising” manner with itsneighbors.14 Bangladesh is afraid of India exploiting its geographical position to redirect water flows vital to Bangladeshiagricultural production. Nepal and Bhutan are still worried about India’s control over their world trade and transit links astheir geographical position will always make them dependent on India.15 These disputes between India and its neighborshave directly affected SAARC.Namely, disputes between South Asian states have undermined SAARC efforts to promote regional trade. Thesedisagreements make consensus building and cooperation among SAARC states complicated. Attempting to promoteregional cooperation while doing little to resolve regional conflicts makes SAARC’s mission looks nearlyimpossible.16Moreover, SAARC has no institutional mechanisms or punishments capable of preventing or fully resolving adispute. Two examples illustrate how conflicts in South Asia have proven detrimental to SAARC.The first involves Indian intervention in Sri Lanka from 1986-1990. The Indian military intervention to put down aninsurgency by The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam made Indo-Sri Lankan relations tense during these four years.Subsequently, the apprehension between India and Sri Lanka was considered a primary reason behind Sri Lanka’s“lukewarm” support for SAARC into economic and social spheres of its member states until relations improved withIndia.17A second, more prominent example of a conflict derailing SAARC progress is the Indo-Pakistani conflict. Pakistan hasdemanded a resolution to its dispute with India over the Kashmir Valley before discussing trade relations with New Delhi.Pakistan has enforced this policy by violating WTO regulation for failing to confer Most Favored Nation (MFN) status onIndia.India has recently attempted to improve its relationship with the rest of South Asia. Under the Gujral Doctrine establishedby former Indian Prime Minister I.K Gujral, India signed a 30-year water sharing treaty with Bangladesh and a trade andtransit treaty with Nepal. India also joined a sub regional group within SAARC comprising of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal andIndia.18 Despite political impediments to trade, value of goods smuggled from India to Pakistan via a third party generallytotals 250-500 million per year. 19 If trade between the states was opened, Pakistan would receive cheaper imports due tolower transport costs and the absence of payments to a middleman. This implies that there is potential for lucrative tradebetween India and Pakistan. Moreover, if these two states, arguably the largest powers in SAARC, pushed for economiccooperation, it is likely that other states will follow their lead. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Indo-Pakistani disputeover Kashmir is considered a primary cause of SAARC’s impotence.20Due to these conflicts, the desire for South Asian states to trade with one another has been limited. By squelching tradebetween South Asian states, the disagreements between India and its neighbors have limited the effectiveness of SAARC
  27. 27. trading initiatives. The South Asian Preferential Trading Agreement (SAPTA) signed in December 1995 had SAARC countriesreduce tariffs in certain economic areas to promote intra regional trade. The proposal was initially met with enthusiasm asIndia agreed to reduce tariffs in 106 of the 226 fields recommended by SAARC and Pakistan agreed to concessions in 35fields. This statistic emphasizes a trend in SAARC— India seems gung ho about intra regional cooperation. In 1995, whenSAPTA was being implemented, only 3 percent of all South Asian trade was conducted in the region.21 Six years later, theimprovements seen in regional trade have been marginal. India’s trade within South Asia accounts for only 4 percent of itstotal global trade and Pakistan’s trade in the region accounts for merely 3 percent of its overall trade.22 Compared to othercountries with similar proximities and income levels, intra regional trade among SAARC states is relatively small.23 Much ofthe trade that is conducted in South Asia is also considered symbolic and generally does not involve goods vital to theeconomies of the South Asian states.24 Moreover, some states still have high tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade,indicating that the spirit of free trade does not seem alive in SAARC.25 However, SAARC is trying to remedy this problem.SAARC hopes that the establishment of a South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) by January 1, 2006 will stimulate trade in theregion. However, the agreement to establish this free trade zone will take 10 years of gradual tariff reduction.26 For aproposal that has already been delayed, it will take some genuine political cooperation for the tariff reduction process torun smoothly.27 Judging from the experience of ASEAN, an organization with a better track record in producing economiccoordination among member states than SAARC, creating a free trade zone could become difficult. The ASEAN free tradeagreement (AFTA) has been criticized for not producing substantial economic interdependence among the region. This lackof success results from distrust and protectionism among its member states.28 If SAFTA is implemented, its success willdepend on the resolution of conflicts between South Asian states—something which seems unlikely in the future.A Bi-lateral AlternativeTo counter SAARC’s ineffectiveness, individual states have used bi-lateral agreements to advance their economic interests.Due to their conflicts, it is not surprising that trade between India and Pakistan has only occurred through the smuggling ofgoods by a third party, usually Dubai. However, Pakistan and Bangladesh maintained relatively lucrative trade relations withone another in the 1980’s. Approximately 60 percent of Bangladesh’s exports during this decade went toPakistan.29Bangladesh also saw an upswing in bi-lateral trade with India during the 1990’s. While the trade between Indiaand Bangladesh was characterized by a significant trade gap, over $1 billion in goods a year went back and forth betweenthese states. India also signed an agreement with Nepal in December of 1996 that allowed Nepal duty free access to theIndian market.30 Moreover, on April 1, 1995, India reduced customs on goods imported from Sri Lanka. Therefore, bi-lateral, not multi-lateral, agreements have facilitated much of the trade that does occur in South Asia.The existence of these bi-lateral agreements is significant for three reasons. First, the increase of bi-lateral agreements inSouth Asia shows that states are not dependent on SAARC to achieve their economic objectives. Therefore, SAARC’simportance in the future will likely diminish in the eyes of its member states. Second, a focus on bi-lateral negotiationsshifts attention away from the region and onto individual countries. In the future, states are more likely pursue bi-lateralagreements where they have to negotiate with only one country instead seeking multi-lateral deals, where they have tonegotiate with seven countries. Therefore, states will lack an incentive to pursue their economic interests through SAARC.Third, the growth in bi-lateral trade agreements between South Asian states highlights the priority states are giving to theirown self-interests at the expense regional economic cooperation. Thus, it seems as if economic regional cooperation is not
  28. 28. a high priority for SAARC member states. So, if SAARC has not met the economic needs of its states, does it have a role inthe future of South Asia?Another Role for SAARCSAARC does face some serious problems but could still play a useful role in South Asia. It is important to point out thatSAARC does face some serious obstacles to success. The organization is facing a serious resource crunch and the SAARCcountries have shown little willingness to increase their contributions to the association. Moreover, SAARC must battle thepublic perception it is more a figurehead of South Asian unity than an actual facilitator of regional cooperation. SAARC hasbeen criticized by the public for only reaching agreements on the lowest level of cooperation among states instead ofpushing for cooperation that would actually benefit South Asia. The SAARC conventions on drug trafficking and terrorismhave also been criticized for not producing substantial results. Most of SAARC’s noteworthy achievements have only beenfound “on paper.”31 Thus, it does not become surprising when the British based Economist magazine ponders whetherSAARC should be put “out of its misery.”32Despite these obstacles, SAARC can still play an important communicative role in South Asia. It can serve as a forum forSouth Asian leaders to discuss security concerns in South Asia on a regular basis and as an outlet for South Asian countriesto communicate with other regional economic blocks. While SAARC cannot force its member states to trade with oneanother, it does make them interact. It provides a neutral forum for leaders to talk and sets a consistent time frame forthese meetings to occur. It does not force them to sign any agreements or commit to policies; it allows them simply todiscuss matters of regional security. Given the poor communication between South Asian leaders, this is not an insignificantrole. SAARC has already shown in the past that it is useful in promoting dialogue among South Asian leaders.Informal talks between Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers at the second SAARC summit in 1986 led to the diffusion oftension between the two countries on the issue of India’s Brasstacks exercise.33 In January 2004, conciliatory talksbetween India and Pakistan were sparked by an upcoming SAARC conference.34 A breakthrough between Indian andPakistani diplomats actually occurred at the conference.35 While the dialogue has yet to produce tangible results, theexperiences indicate that SAARC can help promote political cooperation and serve as a forum for communication amongSouth Asian leaders. Since political conflicts are a primary cause of SAARC’s inability to foster cooperation among itsmembers, serving as a forum to alleviate those problems could in turn aid efforts to improve economic integration in thefuture.ConclusionIn essence, the growing movement of emphasis on economic development in foreign policy is changing the priorities ofSouth Asian states. South Asian countries are emphasizing the importance of access to open markets and increasing foreigninvestment in their businesses. It seems likely then that economic growth and development will be central to the future ofthe South Asian state. However, whether growth and development occurs because of economic cooperation in the regionis another question. Currently, trade between South Asian states remains relatively low when compared to other regionalblocks. Moreover, political and economic ties between states rest on shaky foundations. Divisions among South Asiancountries have made regional cooperation difficult and have lead states to pursue their economic goals bi-laterally. SAARCis still a valuable forum for political dialogue in South Asia, but its economic role in the region has been mitigated by conflict
  29. 29. and tension among its member states. Until these conflicts are resolved to the point where South Asian states are willing toreduce barriers to trade, it seems as if the vision of an economic interdependent South Asia is more of a dream than reality.Author byline---ENDNOTES1 SAARC homepage SAARC has expanded its role to address significant issuesimpacting South Asia such as Agriculture, Biotech, Communication and Media, Energy, Environment, Human Resources,Poverty, Legal problems and Tourism.2 Bhabani Gupta, “ India in the Twenty-First Century”, International Affairs vol 73, no2, (April 1997) p. 2973 Ibid p. 3024 “Every man for himself,” The Economist. Oct. 31, 2002 p. 145 Gupta, “ India”, p. 2056 Howard Schaffer and Teresita Schaffer, “Better Neighbours? India and South Asian Regional Politics”, SAIS Review,(Winter – Spring 1998) p. 1207 Gupta p. 3148 J N Dixit, External Affairs: Cross-Border Relations, ( New Delhi: Roli Books, 2003). p. 389 Kishore Dash, “The Political Economy of Regional Cooperation in South Asia”, Pacific Affairs vol 69, no 2 (Summer 1996)p. 19610 , Thomas P Thornton, “Regional Organizations in Conflict Management”, Annals of the American Academy of Politicaland Social Science Vol 518, (Nov 1991), p. 13511 Ibid p. 136. The countries of ASEAN are all relatively evenly matched in their geographic size, economic strength andmilitary power. While there are disparities among ASEAN states in some of these areas, they are not nearly as drastic asthose between India and other South Asian states.12 Dash, “The Political Economy”, p. 19213 Ananya Mukherjee Reed, “Regionalization in South Asia: Theory and Praxis”, Pacific Affairs, vol 70, no 2, (summer1997) p. 24614 Schaffer and Schaffer, “Better Neighbours”, p. 11115 Schaffer and Schaffer, “Better Neighbours”, p. 111
  30. 30. 16 Reed, “Regionalization”, p. 24417 Dash, “Political Economy”, p. 20118 Gupta, “ India”, p. 31019 SankarGhosh and SomenMukherji, Emerging South Asian Order: Hopes and Concerns, (Calcutta: Media South Asia,1995), p. 19720 “The Unmagnificent Seven,” The Economist Online, < >( Jan. 24, 2002).21 , Ghosh and Mukherji, “Emerging South Asian Order”, p. 14722 “The Unmagnificent Seven.”23 Panagariya, Arvind, “ South Asia: Does Preferential Trade Liberalization make sense?” “The Unmagnificent Seven”25 Dash, “Political Economy”, p. 20426 SAARC website, <>27 According to Schaffer and Schaffer, SAFTA was supposed to come into existence in 2001. The Economist article, “TheUnmagnificent Seven” also pointed out that the implementation of SAFTA has been rapidly delayed.28 “More Effort Needed,” The Economist Online,> ( July 29, 2004), p. 2529 Dash, “Political Economy”, p. 19630 Dixit, “External Affairs”, p. 11131 Dash, “Political Economy”, p. 18832 “The Unmagnificent Seven”33 Dash, “Political Economy”, p. 18934 “Back to jaw-jaw,” The Economist Online,<> ( Jan 8, 2004)
  31. 31. 35 “Giving peace a chance,” The Economist Online<> ( Feb. 15, 2004) Copyright © 2006, Stanford Journal of International Relations Department of International Relations, Stanford University Last updated: 5/24/06, by Hammad Ahmed and Patrick Callier.