India’s Act East policy: strategic implications for the Indian Ocean Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, Volume 12, Issue 2, 2016: India and the Indian Ocean Region, pp. 177-190
Since the Modi government came to power in June 2014, it has invested diplomatic capital in announcing the transformation of India’s ‘Look East’ policy into a new ‘Act East’ policy.
While this new semantics has mostly involved a few nuances and adjustments – rather than a drastic change – in India’s strategic posture, it is nevertheless interesting to analyze the implications of the ‘Act East’ policy for the Indian Ocean Region, and more specifically for its Eastern part – the Bay of Bengal. In this respect, the article shows that India’s ‘Act East’ policy has led to its growing involvement in the Bay of Bengal, especially in the field of maritime affairs. It has also led India to acknowledge its security responsibilities. More generally, India’s recent advances in maritime domain awareness, its interests in enhancing joint patrols and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) cooperation, as well as its efforts to contribute to the maritime security of its neighbors, including through weapon transfers, reflect that India is in a nascent positioning as a net security provider, or at least is in an attempt to progress along that line.