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BOOK REVIEW: Look East Policy & India’s North-East: Polemics and Perspectives

The Look East policy has emerged as one of the prominent foreign policy initiative India has undertaken in the post-Cold War period. It was launched in the year 1991 by the then Narasimha Rao Government with the aim of developing multifaceted relation with countries of Southeast Asia. Such aims include renewing political contacts, increasing economic integration, and forging security cooperation with several countries of Southeast Asia as a means to strengthen political understanding, and enhancing India’s political role in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region in general and Southeast Asia in particular. As a result the Look East policy is responsible in making India an inalienable part of the Asia-Pacific’s strategic discourse. It is rather a late recognition of the strategic and economic importance of the region to India’s national interests.

After seventeen years the Look East policy has yielded many benefits and supported India’s economic transformation and growth, including closer strategic contacts between India and Southeast Asian countries, an impressive increase in the quantum of bilateral trade with other developing countries in Asia and increased people-to-people interaction. India’s trade with countries bordering the Northeastern region witnessed a dramatic expansion, with the share going up more than five times. However, this increase in the volume of trade with India’s eastern neighbors has had little or no impact on the Northeast. As a result, in the second phase, the Look East Policy has been given a new dimension wherein India is now looking towards partnership with the ASEAN countries integrally linked to economic and security interests of the Northeastern region.

Thingnam Kishan Singh edited book Look East Policy & India’s North East: Polemics and Perspectives published by Concept Publishing Company, New Delhi is a collection of articles published in the first four issues of a quarterly journal Alternative frames which was rechristened as Alternative Perspective. The essays are an attempt to highlight the core issues confronting the Northeastern region vis-a -vis India’s Look East policy.

This compendiu of 13 essays earlier published in Alternative Perspectives attempts to examine the dynamics of India’s Look East Policy and its impact on Northeast region, with special focus on Manipur. Tracing the origin and conceptualization of India’s look East Policy, the contributors explain the multi-dimensions of relations between India and Southeast Asia. They also deliberate on the development strategies in Northeast region as a ‘frontier periphery’, LEP’s ecological and environmental implications, underdevelopment nature of Manipur’s socio-economic landscape, effect of look East Policy on the economy of the Northeast, Indo-Myanmar relations, the paradox of growing Indian support for military rule in Myanmar, and the nature of dysfunction anticipated in a land like Manipur.

Title: Look East Policy & India’s North East: Polemics and Perspectives

Author: Thingnam Kishan Singh

Publisher: Concept Publishing Company (p) Ltd.

Publication Date: 2009

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