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PSIR 2B-3.6 India – Southeast Asia Relations – Previous Year Questions – Solved

Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)

1] What are the implications of ‘Look-East’ Policy on the north-eastern region of India? [2022/15m/200w/7b]

Whereas traditional Indian foreign policy was approaching the Indian North Eastern Region through a security vantage, the Look East Policy opened up the northeast to trade and investments and combines geopolitical objectives with the impetus for economic expansion.

The region suffered from a developmental deficit due to remoteness from the industrially advanced parts of India and due to communication and infrastructural lapses in the region. Look East Policy is expected to initiate economic and developmental activities and help the eight North-eastern states to develop infrastructure, communication, trade, investment, logistics, agro-business and other commercial activities.

This shift has regarded the expansion of trade as a result of infrastructure and connectivity development in the region as a self-propelled mechanism for the delivery of development. The economic gain to be had from the increased linkages with ASEAN countries has been seen as the way to undo the post-independence developmental deficit in the Indian North Eastern Region. For example, undertaking highway expansion programs and the Asian Highways Project with the aid of international funding agencies, seek to change transport and communications in the region.

By departing from the traditional foreign policy imperatives, the Look East Policy is said to have focused on dismantling the geographical barriers and remoteness of Northeast India and is a means of reducing India’s internal development disparity. [217 words]

2] Discuss the Consequences of illegal cross-border migration in India’s north-eastern region. [2022/15m/200w/8b]

The northeastern region of India, surrounded by international borders, is home to a variety of ethnic groups which is in a state of transition due to uncontrolled migration from neighbouring countries and states.

While cross-border immigration is creating the opportunity for a few states of the region to employ cheap and skilled labour, it is coming at the cost of marginalisation of the indigenous people in their own states of origin.

Due to the trans-border character of the region; migration and diversity are giving rise to social tensions between the natives and the settler migrants and more so among the natives. Moreover, the porous international borders particularly the Indo-Bangladesh border is compounding the problem of illegal migration in the region.

The continuous inflow of migrants both legal and illegal in the region as compared to limited outflow is leading to severe consequences like internal displacement, growth of the terrorism industry and a boost in the illegal trade of human and child trafficking and smuggling of arms and narcotics. The massive illegal immigration is posing a grave danger to the security, social harmony and economic well-being of the country.

The terrains comprising of forested hills, low-lying plains, riverine and human settlements in the absence of proper roads make the task of effective border policing an extremely difficult task. It is only through the securitisation of the borders along with strict policy measures in place, the rights of indigenous people can be harmonized with those of migrants. [245 words]

3] Discuss the strategic implications of India’s ‘Look East Policy’ transforming into ‘Act East Policy’. [2021/10m/150w/5a]

India’s ‘Look East Policy’ was a strategic approach initiated in the early 1990s to strengthen India’s engagement with Southeast Asia and East Asia. In recent years, this policy has evolved into the ‘Act East Policy,’ reflecting a more proactive and action-oriented approach.

The ‘Act East Policy’ aims to enhance economic integration with countries in the Southeast Asian region and beyond to Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Island nations. It seeks to leverage the economic potential of the Asia-Pacific region, which is experiencing rapid growth and offers opportunities for trade, investment, and technological collaboration. By deepening economic ties, India aims to diversify its trade partners, attract investments, and foster mutual economic prosperity.

It emphasizes the development of connectivity infrastructure, such as roads, ports, railways, and air links, to improve regional connectivity. In addition to the ‘Look East Policy’, the ‘Act East Policy’ recognizes the importance of security cooperation in maintaining regional stability and addressing shared security challenges. It also involves active diplomatic engagements with countries in the region. These engagements enhance India’s visibility and influence in the region, allowing it to actively shape regional agendas and foster closer diplomatic ties.

The ‘Act East Policy’ is a response to the evolving geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific region. It seeks to counterbalance the influence of other major powers in the region and promote India as a responsible and influential actor in regional affairs. [230 words]

4] How is India responding to the idea of Indo-Pacific? [2019/10m/150w/5d]

The emergence of the Indo-Pacific as a new geographic space—bringing together the Indian and the Pacific Oceans—represents the new strategic reality of the twenty-first century.

Firstly, India sees the Indo-Pacific as an opportunity to expand its footprint across the region while facing significant capacity and capital constraints. Second, it places partnerships at the core of India’s Indo-Pacific interests. While collaborations with bigger powers such as Australia, France, Japan, and the United States have provides a greater platform for New Delhi to expand its diplomatic footprint, its relationship with island nations will shape India’s role in the Indo-Pacific.

Due to the geographic proximity of the island states—both Maldives and Sri Lanka and to a greater extent Mauritius and Seychelles—to India, their foreign policy choices will have a direct impact on New Delhi’s security environment. Finally, although the Indo-Pacific presents new opportunities for India’s great power ambitions, India’s priorities and significant investments will remain in the Indian Ocean.

The Indo-Pacific, which is a new domain in India’s foreign policy engagements, represents a shift in New Delhi’s strategic environment—expanding itself solely from its continental borders to its maritime space. [191 words]

5] Evaluate India’s stand on the recent Rohingya refugee issue. [2018/10m/150w/5c]

The Rohingya refugee issue arose because Myanmar does not recognise the community as its citizens and considers them “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh. India is a close neighbour of Bangladesh and Myanmar, hence its stand on the issue also becomes significant.

In the initial years, India considered the issue as Myanmar’s internal Issue. India also allowed Rohingya refugees to enter the country. This was so because India was concerned about Myanmar tending towards China. Moreover, India also has economic Interests in Myanmar; energy Interests, development of port at Sittwe, Inland waterways etc.

The second phase of India’s Rohingya approach began sometime in mid-2017 with the announcement of the government’s plans to deport the Rohingyas who have settled in different parts of India. India launched ‘Operation Insaniyat’ to help Bangladesh, which bore the brunt of the refugee overflow.

Delhi’s decision to extend help fits into its desire to de-incentivise Rohingya refugees entering India. This stand was a result of the growing security concerns and the need for diplomatic balancing between Bangladesh and Myanmar. The recent approach was driven by the need to find a role for itself in finding a resolution to the crisis by strengthening its quiet diplomacy.

In conclusion, the lack of a national policy framework on refugees has complicated India’s handling of the Rohingya crisis. Other experts argue that the framing of the Rohingya crisis through the security argument is short-sighted as it could create more security challenges for India, including “greater radicalisation” of a repressed community that could have serious “spillover” effects on India. [256 words]

6] Analyse the significance of India’s Look East policy in the light of concerns of the indigenous peoples of North East India. [2018/10m/150w/5e]

India’s Look East Policy gives an opportunity to India to improve its North East region which was somewhat ignored post-independence. The policy provides for inclusive growth and development of the region along with more people-to-people contact with the rest of India.

The most significant component of the region is connectivity. In a move to enhance connectivity between northeast India and South East Asia, the important projects which are undergoing or in the pipeline are Moreh -Tamu–Kalewa Road, India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, Trans Asian Highway, India-Myanmar rail linkages, Kaladan Multimodal project, the Stilwell road, Myanmar-India-Bangladesh gas and/or oil pipeline, Tamanthi Hydroelectricity project and optical fibre network between Northeast India and Southeast Asia.

Apart from connectivity, the region suffers from various issues like migrant and ethnic conflicts, cross-border crimes etc. Look East policy seeks to address these.

The policy also seeks to employ international cooperation particularly with South East and East Asian countries to carry out developmental activities in this region. This will help in the economic prosperity of the region.

Northeast India remains a sensitive part of the nation owning to its geo-strategic location. It is said that a chain is as strong as its weakest link. Thus, India must ensure that the disparity of the northeast with the rest of the nation is reduced as fast as possible. [218 words]

The post contains answers to the last 6-year papers i.e. (2023-2018). Answers to the previous year questions from 2013-2017 are a part of our book PSIR Optional Model Answers to PYQs (2013-2022)

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