India-South East Asia – Different Spheres Region of Huge Potential
South East Asia is a region of the world which holds tremendous significance and potential yet to be realised. Here India will have an important role to play in realising its potential as well as work for its own growth.
India and South East Asia are connected from the beginning of the evolution of the continents, the cultural civilisational connect has been evident in the South East Asian countries since 290 BC.
Travelers, monks, kings spread the Hindu-Buddhist influence in these countries. The cultural and linguistic influence is rightly termed as ‘Indosphere’. Chola and Pallava kings crossed the great seas and spread their glory there.
Moreover, Ramayan offers a common thread between southeast Asia and India. Various adaptations of the Ramayana are popular in the country’s Seri Ram in Malaysia and Ramayana Khmer in Cambodia and so on. The most astonishing is the fact that these influences were not a result of forced impositions or colonization rather the people over years chose them and blended them with their own cultures, also civilizational values of both the regions are very different from the west.
India and South East Asia as a Trade Partner
Not only cultural exchanges, India has had trade relations with the southeast too. Therefore, while cherishing the rich past, analysing the present, there is a need to work for building our future. The post-COVID world order will be throwing tremendous opportunities given that India and Asian countries need to work together to seize every opportunity. India is an active trade partner with ASEAN. The trade has grown about 14% in 2018. However, India has a trade deficit with the region. India has not been able to benefit from the free trade agreements with ASEAN countries. In fact, this was one of the reasons for staying out of RCEP.
India will increase domestic production under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan
Post COVID19 India can recover from the trade deficit by the means of Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan – that is by increasing domestic production which can help to reduce in force as well as increase capabilities for exports. Supply side policies can also be improved to make domestic industry more competitive. India must also adopt plug and play policy so as to attract FDI.
Moreover, both parts share common concerns as well easy movement of goods from a security environment in the region countering China’s expansionist policies. India has a role to play directly or indirectly in the region given its strategic partnership with countries like Vietnam. Vietnam has also invited India to explore oil and gas blocks off the coast of South China Sea. Moreover, India has condemned China’s expansionism be it on LAC or SCS.
All World Powers taking interest in Protecting Sovereignity of the Region.
With the US, Russia and Australia taking interest in protecting sovereignty of the region, India would not want to stay behind. US already sees India as a key player in its Indo-Pacific strategy. India and ASEAN countries can also develop capability in the health sector given the crisis COVID-19 has put forward in front of all the countries. India can also take lessons on how to manage the pandemic better from the southeast Asian countries.
India and ASEAN countries need to work towards enhanced connectivity that is the development of roads, railways capable of mass transport. More projects like Kaladan Multimodal Transit and India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral highway. To further improve road transit, India must work closely with Myanmar to develop road infrastructure to enhance connectivity and cooperation. To improve people-to-people connectivity, exchange of diplomats, parliamentary missions, etc. have been active.
New Education Policy can invite Universities from the region
Additionally, with the ringing bells of New Education Policy India can invite Universities from the region to set up branches in India and also facilitate student exchange programmes. India along with the South East Asian countries can do their bit and work towards achieving the Asian century.
AUTHOR:- SURAMYA SHARMA
CATEGORY :- Indian Economy/ Current Affairs
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