US India Global Review 2018

Eastward, Ho! By Ela Dutt ACTING EAST 12 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW APRIL-JUNE 2018 That 10 leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) occupied ring- side seats at India's Republic Day Jan. 26, was a symbolic testament to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Act East' policy. But it also bore fruit at a summit where the two parties signed an agreement out- lined the relationship in substan- tive terms. The optics of the presidents, prime ministers and a Sultan at the nationally televised Republic Day, marks a "big step forward" for India's Looking East policy, and the first time South East Asia was so prominently displayed in India, says Sadanand Dhume, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. "It's a gift the Modi administration has of using spectacle in furthering India's for- eign policy." The invitation to the 10 ASEAN leaders signals a relation- ship in which ASEAN and India are willing to invest heavily, both politically and diplomatically, according to Anubhav Gupta, assistant director with the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York. A concrete agreement signed by ASEAN and India at a summit held the day before Republic Day is proof of that. The Delhi Declaration of the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit to mark the 25th Anniversary of ASEAN-India Dialogue Relations, held Jan. 25, in New Delhi, was on the theme 'Shared Values, Common Destiny.' Noting the strong "cross-cul- tural exchanges and civilisational linkages between Southeast Asia and India over several millennia," the parties pledged to "Further strengthen and deepen the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership for mutual benefit, The 10 ASEAN leaders invited to the Republic Day spectacular marks the futuristic 21st century boost the "Act East" policy gives to India's nearly thousand- year ties to this region PM Narendra Modi attends 14th ASEAN - India summit at Vientiane, Laos Photo: