New Delhi, Oct.20 : India's "Look East Policy" came in for severe criticism from South East Asia experts while discussing Asian security architecture here today.
Initiating the discussion on "Regional Security Architecture in Asia: Role of CSCAP in ARF Track 2 Process" at Observer Research Foundation, Professor Tony Milner, a prominent member of Australia's Foreign Affairs Council, said India could have done "much better" while "deep changes are on the way" in the region where the security architecture in a messy situation. He opined that India's soft power could have been used for better results.
Milner, who is the Co-Chair of the Australian Committee of The Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP) and a key member in developing Tract II Australian-ASEAN dialogue, also noted that Russia's strong coming back into international politics in recent years have made the situation much more complex now.
Professor Baladas Ghosal of Centre for Policy Research India's "Look East Policy" failed as it did not factor in the soft power it could have used to create common linkages among the countries.
India also had no idea as to how counter the Chinese policy, he noted.
"It (Look East Policy) worked more as a fire brigade, more often reacting to Chinese policies rather than being pro-active", Professor Ghosal remarked.
"Even our association with ASEAN was because of not its efforts, but India was drawn out to them," he said.
Regretting that India is not taking any initiative to forge cultural linkages in these countries, using the soft power, Professor Ghosal recollected the incidence of a questioner asking him during a conference in Indonesia that whether there are Muslims in India.
Ghosal stressed that there is a need for "multi-structured architecture" to address the specific and complex needs of South East Asia.
Sujit Dutta of Institute of Defence and Security Analyses said India needed to formulate an effective strategy to counter Chinese policy.
Ambassador Dilip Lahiri, who chaired the discussion, felt that India was never comfortable in the South East Asian grouping.
While Jabin Jacob of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies said there were many ambiguity in India's look east policy, Mirza Zulfiqur Rehman of Jawaharlal Nehru University said the policy is very confusing.