India Looks East
For a long time, India did not pay much attention to its eastern neighbours and had a difficult relationship with China. Since the late 1990s however, India has begun to increase its engagement and seeks to foster strategic relations with countries in South East Asia. This effort, usually referred to as “Look East” policy, is aimed at strengthening India’s position as a regional power and providing a counterweight to the influence of China. The focus on economic cooperation has also led to the easing of political tension between the two states.
Our partner Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group (CRG) aims to analyse possible consequences and outcomes from India’s Look East policy for East and North East India as well as South Asia in general. Special attention is given to the role of Kolkata, as the city is located at the end and starting point of two important trade and growth corridors currently planned to be revived or expanded. Kolkata is thus at the very centre of the complex developments which are strongly influenced by the Look East policy. The policy has also important inner-political ramifications, which the research project seeks to examine in detail. Most important is the policy’s strong connection with the emergence of a form of social governance consisting of counter-insurgency measures and the marketisation of economic relations.
The Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, better known as Calcutta Research Group, was established in 1996 as a forum for political activists and intellectuals in order to campaign for a lasting peace between India and Pakistan. Its founders were a group of researchers, feminist thinkers, journalists, trade unionists, and lawyers. The emphasis that CRG places on the East and the Northeast of India has resulted in a strong network of scholars, activists, and institutions in the region.