Author: Dr AK Agarwal
Published: 2017
Language: English
No of pages: 392
About Book

Distillation of the voyage of ASEAN during the last five decades and how the synergies between India and the region blossomed from a bud into a flower have always been the subjects of awe and inspiration for the world at large.

The Indo-ASEAN leadership, founded on congruent ideas and a common vision of the region and the world, is underpinned by spiritualism, civilisational and robust cultural ties of the member countries. Physical and institutional connectivities, not so organised between India and ASEAN countries, still remain a cause of concern and indicate a need for a multifunctional and multimodal approach. Providing a fillip to connectivity among them can breathe new life into the trade, social development tourism and industrialisation of the region. Creation of a fund ring-fenced in this direction will prove practically to be an effective step, to make this headship even more vibrant, adoption of ‘Act of East Doctrine’ by the present Indian dispensation led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi proved nothing less than a boon. At a time when the risks of terrorism and environmental degradation are more pronounced, some earnest efforts to eliminate them and getting the policy framework into action mode without delay will certainly do the trick.


Dr AK Agarwal is a technocrat with over 30 years of experience in augmenting the growth in hi-tech companies and in spearheading successful global business alliances. He has developed deep insights in innovating resilient leadership. He has travelled to diverse parts of the globe, extensively interacted with the international business community and intelligently carved out a niche in technology management and innovation, within the conceptual framework of flexibility. Dr Agarwal is a perfect blend of philanthropist, industrialist and academician. He has a representation in various professional bodies – at national and international levels.


Over the past two decades, India has rapidly expanded engagement with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) into a full strategic partnership.

Just within two decades, ASEAN-India relations have grown rapidly from a sectoral dialogue partnership to a full dialogue partnership and a strategic partnership in 2012. ASEAN always views India as a key element in the evolving regional architecture.

ASEAN, which started with five member countries and later spread its wings to ten members, is an important part of India’s vision of an open, mutual, inclusive and rules-based security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region where disputes are resolved through dialogue and diplomacy.

Deepening of ties between India and ASEAN is reflected in the continued buoyancy in trade figures.

India’s advent as a major power internationally should be seen as an asset by ASEAN countries as it can raise the reputation of the country multi-fold. The countries should view that the opportunities that India brings would also lead to opportunities in their own countries along with a healthy and peaceful Asian order.

It would be best for Indian policy makers to ensure stability in the region, maintain cooperation between the countries and indirectly help in achieving objective of more trade that would boost the economy and provide employment to people in both ASEAN and India.

Since it renamed ‘Look East’ as ‘Act East’ in 2014, the Indian Government has sought a more dynamic and action-oriented approach in its relations with ASEAN.

Asean continues to be the cornerstone of ‘Act East’, and the special summit next year in January is expected to further underscore the point.

Lack of transport connectivity with some ASEAN countries is a serious handicap because connectivity is only as strong as its weakest link. While India has been actively pursuing the implementation of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multimodal Project, issues related to increasing the maritime and air connectivity between ASEAN and India and transforming the corridors of connectivity into economic corridors need to be taken forward.

This book by Dr AK Agarwal, who has also penned previous bestsellers ‘Management by Walking’ and ‘Indian Industrialisation – Trajectory Redefined’, is the outgrowth of a conviction that the history of ASEAN, which dates back to 1967 when it came into being, and the ties of India with the member countries of the regional grouping should be seen in a new light amid the changing global scenario.

From one standpoint it would be preferable to chronicle ASEAN’s odyssey in giving a push to economic growth and social progress in the Southeast Asian region from the world’s eyes as well as from the perspective of the Indo-ASEAN leadership, which also serves as a barometer of the world’s prosperity. The purpose of the book is didactic as well as it would enable its readers to trace the grouping’s footprints during the last 50 years.

The author has had no hesitation in interspersing examples through 12 chapters and drawing his own conclusions at the end of each chapter.

As regards the member countries of ASEAN, the author has tried his best to throw light on their interlinks and their growing ties with India.

Much more could have been added to this book that would have proved a very interesting reading, but he has had to be content with all these facts which have been gathered with painstaking efforts for which he deserves accolades as well as encomia.

I am sure that this book would be found useful not only for those who keep a hawk’s eye on the changing dynamism of the world but also for those who have a major say in the policymaking decisions in Southeast Asia.

Dr Agarwal has rightly pointed out that a sturdy and strapping Indo-Asean leadership will pave the way for a lasting peace and prosperity across the globe and the fragrance of this bond will waft through every nook and cranny, resulting in reining in various malaises afflicting the world at present like economic upheavals, uncertainty, unpredictability, climatic calamities, moral degradation, violent extremism and terrorism and environmental degradation, among others.
The book, written in simple language, also dwells on India’s cultural, economic and political relations with ASEAN countries as they carry long traditions with them.

Dr Agarwal presents this book with a hope that someone in the future will follow up this history, and, with what little he has been able to assemble in this edition, will be able to set forth a more worthy and complete account of the Indo-ASEAN lineage.

I am of firm belief that the readers will feel delighted in scanning these pages.

Dato’ Hidayat Abdul Hamid,
High Commissioner of Malaysia in India


“The book provides insights of ASEAN and Indo-ASEAN leadership in a simple language and elucidated manner. The book is well distilled and intelligently written.”

– Dr Frank-Jurgen Richter
Chairman- Horasis, Switzerland & Former Director – World Economic Forum

“The book is truly relevant and fruitful in improving relations among India and ASEAN countries on all fronts.”

Dr Ketut Suastika
Rector, Udayana University, Bali, Indonesia

“The book is a repository of knowledge to be passed on as heirloom to posterity.”

Sandeep Jajodia,
President, The Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (ASSOCHAM)


This book by Dr AK Agarwal with the meaningful and self-explanatory title VIBRANT INDO-ASEAN LEADERSHIP – ‘Act East Doctrine’ Broadening New Horizons is about a regional grouping that came into being with a view to giving push to economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the Southeast Asian region through multilateral cooperation some fifty years ago.

The timing of the book could not have been more perfect coming as it does on the golden jubilee of the region.

India’s ‘Act East Doctrine’, a beneficial prospect, is par excellence in its own right and congruent to the motives and objectives of ASEAN, making it a template for the entire world. Talks of India’s relations with ASEAN countries and the ties among the member nations have been an old hat and much discussion and debates have already taken place on that.

ASEAN has emerged as a platform to promote regional integrations and cooperation, to encourage unity, prosperity, development and sustainability as well as to work out solutions to problems among its members.

While primarily focusing on the Asia-Pacific nations, ASEAN has also established communications with other parts of the world, including India. It is time some solid action has to be seen to improve regional connectivity, be it by road, rail, water or skies as it will lead to more prosperity.

It will also make the future generations aware of the genesis of vexed issues confronting Southeast Asian countries.

It is a thing of the past when the member countries of the bloc used to have animated discussions on a bevy of issues. Now, the need of the hour is nothing less than a swift action on all those fronts.

Dr Agarwal has taken pains and gone to great lengths to bring to light various hidden facets of the economic growth, social progress, terrorism and other security issues along with socio-cultural evolution among ASEAN members and India.

That said, this is an absorbing book beyond doubt which describes in details the great potential and strengths of the ASEAN countries and makes for a compelling read.

I have a strong conviction that this book will make the member countries and other world community explore the possibility of getting to the roots of some significant affairs of the bloc and its linkages with India and International economic integration. I suggest that the book be read by one and all.


Dr Ton Sinh Thanh,
Ambassador of S.R. of Vietnam to India, Nepal & Bhutan