India’s Role in East Asia: Lessons from Cultural and Historical Linkages

Ellen L. Frost
JEL codes: 
RIS-DP # 147

Indias presence in the East Asia Summit signals not only a victory for New Delhis Look East policy but also an implicit Look West policy on the part of Indias neighbors to the east. This convergence represents not only a major economic opportunity for India but also a long-term strategic shift in regional order. The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate that for historical, cultural, political as well as for substantial economic reasons India belongs to the East Asian table. It is time to re-center our notions of Asia so that maps and other geographic concepts reflect Indias resurgent links with eastern neighbors. Indias political role in the Asian integration movement underscores this need. One of the key opportunities for policy makers is to revive and build on Indias historical and cultural legacy in Asia without appearing to be seeking hegemony or trumpeting a chauvinist vision.