On 7 August 2013 PRIO hosted a seminar with Dr. Arvind Gupta of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi. In his presentation Dr. Gupta discussed the concept of the Asia Pacific; the current geopolitical re-balancing in the region, competitions over the South China Sea, maritime issues, the rise of China, and India's policy approach in the region.
According to Dr. Gupta, India needs to have a long term strategy to make use of the opportunities arising in the Asia-Pacific region while keeping in view the challenges on the security front. Several political, security, economic and socio-cultural trends are at play, making the Asia Pacific a highly dynamic region. These include the rise of China, the rebalancing strategy of the USA, efforts at evolving a regional security architecture, recurring tensions on the Korean peninsula, South China Sea and East China Sea, the growing salience of the Indian Ocean region and maritime issues, and the emergence of non-traditional security issues. From the Indian perspective, key issues are whether China’s rise will be peaceful, and whether it is possible to develop a regional security architecture. India began adjusting to the new realities in the Asia Pacific region in the early nineties when it launched its Look East Policy aimed at deepening its engagement with the ASEAN countries. The Look East Policy (LEP) began by initiating a sectoral dialogue with ASEAN and has graduated with India becoming a founder member of the East Asia Summit and signing an FTA with ASEAN. The LEP is hence considered as a success. Today, India is widening its engagement with not only ASEAN but also China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. India’s approach to the Asia Pacific region is still evolving and will take many forms in the years to come. As described by Dr. Gupta, this will be guided by India's key foreign policy aims of safeguarding the country's security interests, ensuring economic development and fostering regional stability and peace.