Q.5: What is Look East Policy. Discuss the different aspects of its current foreign policy?

The look east policy refers to the foreign policy of India that focuses relation with the counties that are towards eastern side of India. Simply, it refers to the policy to look east. It was started by former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral. India’s Look East Policy (LEP) has been a major pillar of our foreign policy since the early 1990s. The objective of the look east policy is to forge social, economic and cultural relations with the countries of East Asia.

Look East Policy envisages three-pronged approach towards the countries of South-East Asia.

  • First, to renew political contacts and understanding with ASEAN member states.
  • Second, to achieve enhanced economic interactions including investment and trade, science and technology, tourism, etc. with South-East Asian countries, and
  • Third to strengthen defence and strategic links with these countries to achieve better understanding.

India’s foreign policy aims at achieving twin principal goals of national interest i.e. security and prosperity. India’s current foreign policy strongly focuses on certain issue like

  • Disarmament and non-proliferation
  • International security
  • Climate Change: India’s
  • Terrorism
  • Global Governance
  • Indians Abroad
  • Border issue and Neighbours
  • Global power redistribution (e.g. India’s seat demand in UNSC)

The different aspects that drives the current foreign policy of India are as follows

  • India’s geopolitical structure: The geopolitics of India must be considered in the geographical context of the Indian subcontinent (a self-contained region that includes India’s neighbours) which decides the core value of India’s foreign policy,
  • India’s culture and history: India has a long historical and cultural bond with other countries that drives its international relationship (e.g. in Medieval time, Chola empire presence in Cambodia)
  • India’s political and social structure: India’s democracy and diverse society also drives the foreign policy.
  • India’s Economy: India is the fastest-growing trillion-dollar economy in the world and the fifth-largest overall, with a nominal GDP of $2.94 trillion. In turn, India attracts investment from other countries.
  • India’s Alliances and International Treaties (Bilateral and Multilateral): Security in today’s world is now indivisible, warranting a win-win approach rather than seeking a zero-sum game. The process has fomented global power redistribution, giving rise to major new players, and considerable diminution of the risks of direct conflicts among major powers. This is an important factor in deciding the international relation values.
  • Diplomacy of India: The key goal of Indian Public Diplomacy is to explain, on a day-to-day basis, the background of policy decisions in Indian foreign policy, to promote a positive image of India and to engage scholars, think tanks, and the media through its outreach activities.
  • India’s Trade policy: India’s Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) consists of schemes to support the domestic exporting community. These include development policies that help set-up special trade and economic zones in different parts of the country. So that India can achieve its aspiration of prosperity.

Foreign policy transcends all various areas of interaction: political, strategic, economic and commercial, scientific and technological, cultural, consular, international law.

In today’s world ever newer subjects such as human rights, larger social issues, women, youth, the disabled, media and information, intellectual property, cyberspace, climate change, food, energy, health, transport, labour, migration, as well as disarmament, and fight against menaces like terrorism and drugs effects the foreign policy.

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