What is Act East Policy of India
Former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao started the Look East Policy in India in 1991. Under this policy, India is continuously making efforts to increase trade at regional and multilateral levels. This policy also actively seeks to increase people-to-people relationships. After this, the government of PM Narendra Modi constituted this policy in the Act East Policy. It was launched in November 2014 at the ‘East Asia’ summit of Myanmar.
Fostering Regional Cooperation and Growth
Indian Act East Policy focusses on the extended neighbourhood in the Asia-Pacific region. India has upgraded its relations to strategic partnership with Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Republic of Korea (ROK), Australia, Singapore and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It forged close ties with all countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Apart from ASEAN, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and East Asia Summit (EAS), India has actively engaged in regional fora such as Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), etc.
Indian Act East Policy has placed emphasis on India-ASEAN cooperation in our domestic agenda on infrastructure, manufacturing, trade, skills, urban renewal, smart cities, Make in India and other initiatives. Connectivity projects, cooperation in space, S&T and people-to-people exchanges could become a springboard for regional integration and prosperity.
The Object of Act East Policy
The Object of ”Act East Policy” is to promote intensive and continuous interaction with Southeast Asian countries in enhancing connectivity, trade, culture, defense and people-to-people contacts at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.
The “Look East Policy” focused on increasing economic integration with South East Asian countries, confining the area of interest to Southeast Asia only. On the other hand the focus of the “Act East Policy” is economic and security integration and the focus area increased to South East Asia as well as East Asia.
Some of the major projects include Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project, the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project, Rhi-Tiddim Road Project, Border Haats, etc.
Projects under the ‘act east policy’
Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project
The project aims to connect Kolkata/Haldia port in India to Paletwa in Myanmar via the Sittwe Port and Kaladan river, providing an alternative connectivity route for the North East Region. From Paletwa in Myanmar, the project aims to connect to Zorinpui in Mizoram by road. This will provide a crucial alternate route between the landlocked North-East and the rest of India.
Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWT&T)
North Eastern States are connected with eastern part of India through river Brahmaputra (NW-2) and river Barak (NW-16), Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghli river system (NW-1) via Sundarbans (NW-97) and Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route. These connections have been established under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWT&T) between India and Bangladesh since 1972.
The Government sanctioned following projects for development of the Inland Water Transport (IWT) infrastructure on National Waterways in the North-Eastern Region (NER) for a period of 5 years from 2020-21 to 2024-25
(i) NW-2 (Dhubri-Sadiya stretch of river Brahmaputra) at the cost of Rs.461 Crore; and
(ii) NW-16 (river Barak) & Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route at the cost of Rs.145 Crore
Agartala Akhaura rail project
To strengthen ties between India and Bangladesh, the Prime Ministers of both countries laid the foundation stone for the Agartala Akhaura Rail Link Project. The project involves constructing a 15.6 km rail link with 10 km from the Bangladesh side already underway and 5.6 km completed from the Indian side.
India-Japan Act East Forum
The India-Japan Act East Forum, established in 2017, aims to strengthen cooperation between India and Japan in the North-Eastern region. It focuses on promoting connectivity, developmental infrastructure, industrial linkages, and people-to-people contacts through tourism, culture, and sports activities. This initiative is part of India’s “Act East Policy” and Japan’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy.
In accordance with this vision, India and Japan have decided to launch a comprehensive initiative for sustainable development of NER.
Source – PIB