Looking beyond the optics
Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level: India’s Look East Policy
Mains level: India and its neighborhood- relations
- Domestically, since the start of its Doi Moi policy its political
and economic renewal campaign in 1986.
- Vietnam has made dramatic strides. Today it is a rapidly growing,
regional economic giant, showing both dynamism and pragmatism in its
- While earlier it imported agricultural products, today it is a
major exporter. Agricultural competence has furthered Vietnam’s entry into
the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
- The Vietnam National Assembly ratified the CPTPP on November 12,
asserting its growing economic impact globally, with exports increasing to
approximately $240 billion for the year 2018.
- Membership to the CPTPP, which accounts for nearly 14% of the
global GDP, will boost Vietnam’s economic growth, from 6.8 % in 2017-18, by
a further 1.1% to 3.5% by 2030. One of the core areas of Mr. Kovind’s visit
focussed on furthering cooperation in agriculture and innovation-based
sectors, pushing the potential for increasing bilateral trade to $15 billion
Common ground of health
- The 12th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, in
- It highlighted the importance of linking economic growth to
universal health care, whereby 80% population would be covered by health
- For India since 2011 it has been focussing on the need to deliver
accessible and affordable health insurance to weaker sections of society.
- With Indonesia ratifying the India-ASEAN Services agreement on
November 13, New Delhi is a step closer to signing the Regional
Comprehensive Economic Partnership, bringing India to the forefront of the
services sector globally.
- A potential area of convergence in the realm of health care
through joint public-private partnership agreements can be explored by the
- Vietnam’s foreign policy is characterised by ‘multidirectionalism’,
which addresses regional asymmetries of the power balance by engaging across
a broad spectrum of states to achieve its interests.
- Increasingly, this asymmetrical power structure in the region,
offset by the rise of China, is bringing regional and extra-regional states
together to address the shifts in the normative order.
- Vietnam even normalised relations with the U.S., its former
opponent, credit for which is given to the late U.S. Senator, John McCain.
- Today there is increasing commonality of security concerns between
Vietnam and its ASEAN partners as well as with Australia, India, Japan and
- It particularly in the areas of maritime security and adherence to
the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
- A former Vietnamese President, Trân Đai Quang, had earlier this
year endorsed the term Indo-Asia-Pacific. Similarly, Mr. Kovind’s speech in
the Vietnamese National Assembly referred to a ‘rules based order in the
Indo-Pacific’, reiterating India’s own concerns over troubled maritime
- It finding compatibility between the ‘Indo-Asia-Pacific’ and the
U.S. driven ‘Indo-Pacific’ necessitates a more nuanced approach whereby
regional concerns of ASEAN centrality can be assuaged while accounting for
diverse approaches to maintaining regional stability.
- In pursuance of this, the two countries have planned a bilateral
level maritime security dialogue in early 2019.
Focus on sub-regionalism
- As ASEAN continues to focus on its centrality in the region, there
will undoubtedly be shifts in how smaller members of ASEAN perceive the
centrifugal forces of China’s rise.
- Vietnam has helped to mitigate these by focussing on both
sub-regionalism and regionalism as the core of its priorities.
- India too looks at both sub-regionalism and regionalism as
priority avenues to pursue its foreign policy.
- The India-Vietnam Joint Statement of March 2018 reiterates the
focus given to sub-regionalism and the Mekong Ganga Cooperation framework.
- However, another area is emerging in the CLV, or
Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam growth triangle sub-regional cooperation.
- It bringing these three countries together. India and Vietnam can
jointly explore the potential for enhancing capacity building and providing
technical assistance and training within this sub-regional grouping.
- The major takeaway from Mr. Kovind’s visit is the reference to the
‘cooperation model’ India offers, providing choices and opportunities for
- This reference highlights India’s willingness to address issues on
which increasing synergies need to evolve.
- One such area where convergence is likely, but has been held back
due to individual preference, is the $500 million line of credit offered to
- Both India and Vietnam possess the capacity to find compatibility
in areas promoting defence cooperation and infrastructure simultaneously.
- Vietnam’s role as country coordinator for India in ASEAN will come
to a close in 2018.
- While the ties have progressed under the Look East and Act East
Policies, going forward they need to factor in pragmatism, helping relations
to move forward.
- India’s ability to look beyond the prism of optics will remain a
Q.1) Consider the following regarding ‘Masala Bonds’
1. Masala Bonds makes investors bear the risk
2. British Columbia became the first foreign government to issue Masala Bond
3. HDFC is the first Indian company to issue Masala Bonds
Select the correct code
a) 1 and 2
b) Only 1
c) 2 and 3
d) 1, 2 and 3
Q.1) Vietnam is crucial to India’s Look East Policy bilateral ties must
build on common concerns. Critically analyse the statement.