Thursday, September 23, 2010

India looks to the East

“If New Delhi is to safeguard India’s interests, it must develop and implement a coherent, long-term strategy for economic engagement with its neighbours as well as with East and South East Asia. Its interaction with Nepal and Bangladesh is replete with missed opportunities, exacerbated by the lack of infrastructure development in north-eastern states. Rectifying the latter and linking it to cross-border trade as well as addressing trade imbalance worries would go a long way towards strengthening India’s position in the neighbourhood. With regards to Asean, the free trade agreement signed in January is a step in the right direction. But more must be done to capitalize on it, from including service and investment sectors in the package to developing transport links through the north-east.

China’s rising economic clout and assertiveness are being viewed with some trepidation in the region, from its dispute with South East Asian nations over its South China Sea claims to its clash with Japan over the Diaoyu islands. There is scope here for India to use its positive profile in the region to boost its economic clout. But for that, New Delhi must shift focus from worrying about Beijing’s moves to planning its own.” The Times of India Editorial September 20 (

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