India’s Look East Policy: A Critical Assessment
The Look-east policy was launched in 1992 just after the end of the Cold War, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. After the start of liberalization, it was a strategic policy decision taken by the government with regard to its foreign policy. To quote Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "it was also a strategic shift in India's vision of the world and India's place in the evolving global economy".
There are many reasons for India’s past neglect of Southeast Asia. Because of India’s colonial links, India’s ruling elite had an essentially Western orientation and thinking in the post-1947 period. Economically, due to the fact that this region was less developed than India until the 1970s Southeast Asia was not an attractive trading and economic partner. India’s own economic policies were insular and protectionist. India has since realized that its perceptions about this region were flawed. In recent years India’s relationship with Southeast Asia has flourished. In this interview report Amb. Rajiv Sikri provides an insight into the policy past, present and future.