Fellows Program on Peace, Governance, and Development in East Asia
In its engagement with East Asia, India has preferred so far to become a security actor. Currently, however, the subject matter of India as a possible security provider in East Asia is slowly gaining importance. The conventional wisdom of international politics suggests that a security provider needs not only constant and robust policy engagements but also a serious pursuit of big-power diplomacy. A security provider does not necessarily need a stronger security alliance, but requires to have a leadership vision and presence with reciprocation of a particular region. Besides, a security provider is not meant to participate in conflicting matters and undertake balance-of-power politics. If anything, it participates in the governance process of the region and addresses the non-security challenges as well as traditional security challenges through a responsive and responsible partaking, and upholds peace and stability in the region through its presence and active participation. In brief, to emerge as a leader and security provider to East Asia, India needs to have big-power diplomacy and needs to uphold the acceptance and accept-ability of the region, mainly from the three main powers — China, Japan and South Korea — apart from the region itself.
Quotes from the Paper
“India continues to factor East Asia as a prime region in its foreign policy discourse. Under the broader compass of “extended neighborhood,” India’s canvas on East Asia factors South-East Asia and its multilateral mechanisms including ASEAN, North-East Asia and maritime regions such as the Indian Ocean, South China Sea (SCS) and East China Sea. Approaching East Asia in a policy ambit of Act East, New Delhi envisions emerging as a prominent actor in East Asia through strategic engagement and partaking with the security undertakings in the region.”
“India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, stated in August 2014 that New Delhi needs an Act East policy much more than just the Look East policy to expand India’s engagement and undertaking in East Asia. No matter what is the outcome of this political vision, the principal intent is to advance an Act East policy to protect and advance India’s national interest and improve India’s partaking in East Asia as a power. In fact, to enrich its Act East policy, envisioning within a broader context of Asia-Pacific or the newly emergent Indo-Pacific construct, India aims to attach equal importance to the countries as well as institutions or mechanisms in the East Asian region.”
“East Asia is a key to India’s extended neighborhood policy, positioning and posturing in Asia and beyond…… A real security provider needs a comprehensive engagement in East Asia, a persuasion of big-power diplomacy and robust policy engagement across the East Asia region. To emerge as a security provider, India needs to engage comprehensively with the sub-regions of East Asia, be it South-East Asia or North-East Asia. India also needs to take along all the ASEAN members besides ASEAN itself, ARF and ADMM+. India must also build up a strong relationship with Japan and South Korea, the two main powers other than China in the East Asian region.”
Dr. Jagannath P. Panda is a Research Fellow and heads the East Asia Centre as Coordinator at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi, India. He is in the charge of the Centre’s academic and administrative activities, including the Track-II and Track 1.5 dialogues with the Chinese, Japanese and Korean think-tanks and institutes. He is a recipient of the V.K. Krishna Menon Memorial Gold Medal (2000) from the Indian Society of International Law & Diplomacy in New Delhi.