India’s Prime Minister is due to arrive in Singapore on Monday in his final stop of a Southeast Asia tour to tout New Delhi’s value as Asia’s third-largest economy seeks a greater regional role.
After spending the weekend in Malaysia to attend two conferences—The ASEAN-India and East Asia Summits—Prime Minister Narendra Modi will spend two days in Singapore where the two nations will sign a ‘India-Singapore Strategic Partnership,’ a declaration of deepened ties in areas such as skills development as well as economic and cultural cooperation.
On the political sphere, Modi could take the opportunity to highlight India’s desire for increased regional engagement at a lecture later on Monday, an idea discussed in Kuala Lumpur in relation to the widely-anticipated ASEAN Economic Community.
India’s’ Look East’ policy, an initiative to revive links with Southeast Asia, was announced in 1994 by then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao during a Singapore visit and Modi could take this opportunity to explain how that concept has since progressed, noted Anit Mukherjee, assistant professor at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.
In 2014, Modi’s government remodeled the policy to “Act East,” reflecting a change in priorities from economic and diplomatic engagement with Southeast Asia to broader security and defense ties across Asia-Pacific, in particular China and Japan, amid the mainland’s aggressive geopolitical clout, explained think tank The Lowy Institute for International Policy.