[Answered] “India should work on an ‘Act Far East’ policy for its strategic and economic interests in Indo-Pacific region.” Comment.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Why focus on Far East Asia is important?
Conclusion. Way forward.

Safeguarding freedom of navigation and keeping Indo Pacific stable is crucial to peace and stability in Asia. Indo-Pacific is a “natural region” ranging “from the shores of Africa to that of the America. There is an understanding that the Indian and Pacific ocean area is linked strategic theatre. To safeguard its interest in Indo-Pacific region it is important for India to engage in Far East region of Asia.

Why focus on Far East Asia is important?

  1. Economic development: The region is rich in natural resources, especially diamonds, gold, oil, natural gas, coal, timber, silver, platinum, tin, lead, and zinc. It also has rich fishing grounds (Japan). The region is economically undeveloped, lacks good infrastructure and communications. It is important for growing Indian industries.
  2. Employment opportunities: A lack of manpower is one of the main problems faced by the Far East and Indian professionals like doctors, engineers and teachers can help in the region’s development. Presence of Indian manpower will also help in balancing concerns over Chinese migration into the Asian region. Further, India, one of the largest importers of timber, can find ample resources in the region. Japan and South Korea have been investing and New Delhi may explore areas of joint collaboration.
  3. Strategic importance: Act Far East is important for geopolitics centred on the Indo-Pacific and is key in  pivot to Asia. The region borders the Chinese provinces of is one of the longest in the world. Presence in these areas will help to tackle China economically and strategically.
  4. Energy Resources: The area is rich hydrocarbon reserves in the region throw up immense opportunities for Indian companies. ONGC Videsh has already invested in the Sakhalin-1 project and its terminal is acknowledged as the best in Russia. Act Far East would help in fulfilling India’s rising energy demands.
  5. Small scale industries: For India, there is immense potential for mid-sized and small businesses who should be assisted to overcome language and cultural barriers so that they successfully adopt local business practices. The large diamond reserves in the Russia should be a magnet for the Indian diamond cutting and polishing industry, which is already facing tough competition in Africa from the Chinese.
  6. Manufacturing industries: Infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture development are also areas of opportunity for Indian business and labour. Tele-medicine and long distance education are other areas where Indian companies can make a mark. It would also help in increasing India’s exports.
  7. Technological advancement: Japan is one of the most technologically advanced country. Act Far East can help India in growing technologically. Countries like South Korea are major centre of smartphones and can help Indian smartphone industries to grow.
  8. Regional Stability: It is important to engage in Far East Asia to maintain regional stability. Strong ties with the US are seen as a vital tool for enhancing India’s strategic posture. For the long-term vision of national interest and to tackle China’s increasing active presence in the Indian Ocean region and geopolitical reach in Asia Far East Asian policy is important.
  9. Trade security: In the present time, the control of sea lanes and ports would be the critical for free trade. For adhering to freedom of navigation, adherence to rules-based order and stable trade environment, it is important for India to act on Far East Asia policy.

Economically and strategically, the global centre of gravity is shifting to the Indo-Pacific. The maintenance of peace, stability and security in, upon and over the seas; unimpeded lawful commerce and freedom of navigation. Far East Asia must form the core for securing India’s interests and economic development. India’s presence in Far East, is important to emerge as one of the main players in the Indo-pacific.

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