India’s Foreign Policy towards Malaysia & Singapore: Evolution and Determinants

  •  Rashmi Sehgal    
  •  Zarina Othman    
  •  Nor Azizan Idris    


This paper presents a review of the evolution of India’s relations with Southeast Asian countries, particularly Malaysia and Singapore. Over the centuries, India and Southeast Asia have shared history, culture and social values. As a result, the relationships between these two regions exhibit an evolving pattern. During the onset of the Cold War when the world had a bipolar system, India made some weak policy choices due to several factors which affected its relations with Southeast Asia adversely. However, after the end of the Cold War and fall of the Soviet Union, India felt a need to strengthen its ties with Southeast Asia and thus launched the Look East Policy. This paper traces the evolution of India’s foreign policy towards Malaysia through two defining periods – pre- and post-Cold War. An attempt is also made to explain this evolution and shift from time to time in India’s foreign policy towards Malaysia by highlighting the factors responsible for this. The paper makes important contributions by helping understand the trajectory of relations between India, a major regional power and Malaysia. This paper also briefly covers some historical importance of Singapore to India and Malaysia, since both Malaysia and Singapore are considered as two tiger economies in the Southeast Asian region.

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