Bilateral/International Relations

February 10, 2018
12 months

Although India’s relations with the West Asia have gained greater traction, still it is not as lucrative as India’s East Asian relations. Critically examine the reasons and suggest measures to improve the situation? (200 words)

Refer – The Indian Express

Enrich the answer from other sources, if the question demands.

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IAS Parliament 12 months



·         Effective regional grouping – One big difference between the two regions is an institutional framework that facilitates India’s regional diplomacy.

·         If the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been the vehicle for India’s expanding partnership with South East Asia, there is no similar forum in the Middle East.

·         Groupings such as the Arab League, or the Organisation of Islamic Conference, were never really effective.

·         Even more narrowly focused organisations like the Gulf Cooperation Council are beginning to crack amid the region’s turbulence.

·         Process-driven diplomacy – The ASEAN’s process-driven diplomacy, with multiple lines of continuous engagement, puts pressure on India to stay focused on its Look East Policy.

·         In the Middle East, the principal impulse has to be India’s own strategic appreciation of the region matched by a vigorous bilateralism.

·         Rapport at the leadership level is critical for success in a region ruled mostly by monarchs and strong rulers.

·         Political discord – Another important reason for Delhi’s success east of India has been the absence of domestic political discord over the region.

·         Ideological, political and religious divisions in India over the Middle East have long complicated Delhi’s thinking of the region.

·         The Partition of the Subcontinent produced a set of outcomes that complicated India’s relations with the Middle East.

Way forward

·         Although Delhi’s relations with the Middle East have gained greater traction, there is a need for the articulation of objectives and a strategy to achieve them.

·         Suggestions have often been made for the formulation of a “Look West Policy” that puts India’s relations with the region on a sound basis.

·         The success of India’s “Look East Policy”, provides a persuasive precedent.

·         But, navigating the multiple internal contradictions of the Middle East has never been easy for external powers like India.

·         In this context, India may not need a formal “Look West policy”, if Delhi views the Middle East

a)     on its own merits,

b)     pays sustained political attention and

c)      delivers on the Indian economic and security commitments.