During his first two months in office, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi focused on building relations with India’s neighbors. Over the next month, India’s foreign policy attention will pivot to the Asia-Pacific. Prime Minister Modi has just returned from Japan and is expected to visit Australia later this year. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has asserted that India must not just “look east,” but also “act east.” She has traveled to Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam, where the Indian president also has a planned visit. Recent official visits to India have included the Chinese and Singaporean foreign ministers, and will soon include the Australian prime minister and the Chinese president. In addition, Prime Minister Modi will travel to the United States for bilateral meetings with U.S. President Barack Obama later this month.
On September 9, The India Project at Brookings hosted an event on India’s “Act East” policy to discuss these developments, the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, as well as the implications for Indian policy broadly. The first panel focused on India-China relations, outlining their strategic and economic interactions in the context of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The second panel examined India’s relations with Japan, South Korea and a number of Southeast Asian countries. Panelists also explored how the U.S. rebalance to this region might interact with India’s approach to it.