India's neighbourhood is in considerable turmoil at the
present moment. The instability is likely to continue for the
foreseeable future. India has sought to improve its relations
with neighbouring countries. Regional cooperation is an
important instrument of India's policy towards its
neighbours. The neighbouring countries have also derived
considerable mileage from economic cooperation with India.
This is particularly true of countries like Nepal, Bhutan and
Sri Lanka. Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and
Bangladesh have held peaceful elections in the recent past.
The upsurge of democracy in South Asia should normally
provide a sound foundation for better relationship between
India and these countries.
However, several challenges remain. There are powerful anti-
India forces in many of our neighbouring countries. Regional
cooperation, particularly in the context of SAARC, has not
made visible difference to the life of the common person in
South Asia. The democratic institutions in India's
neighbourhood are fragile. China is making inroads into
South Asia. India's borders are porous and ill-regulated.
Terrorism, human and arms trafficking, smuggling and
organized crime are rampant. Pakistan uses Nepal and
Bangladesh to launch terrorists into India. Groups like LeT
have presence in even Sri Lanka and Maldives. Maritime
security is a matter of concern for India. It is in this
background that India needs to devise its South Asia policies.