Sub-regionalism as New Regionalism in South Asia: India’s Role

Smruti S. Pattanaik is Research Fellow (SS) at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • May 2016

    India’s engagement with its neighbours received a policy reinvigoration after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government assumed power and announced its ‘neighbourhood first’ policy. The first sign of this policy was visible when Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited all the heads of state of the neighbouring countries for his oath-taking ceremony, on May 26, 2014. India’s interest and engagement with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has also intensified in the past few years – from being a reluctant player to driving the regional economic agenda. Unlike in the past, Prime Minister Modi undertook his first foreign visit to Bhutan, followed by visits to Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Seychelles and Bangladesh, to synergise bilateral relations. India had already intensified its cooperation at the regional and sub-regional levels and the NDA government was proactive in taking these engagements forward. Regional as well as sub-regional cooperation became major vehicles of India’s neighbourhood policy, at the core of which was the development agenda of the present government.