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India- Korea Relations,India-South Korea ties,India Korea partnership

India- Korea Relations,India-South Korea ties,India Korea partnership

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Published by Dr. PANKAJ JHA
India -Korea Relations, India Korea Ties, India Korea Strategic Cooperation
India -Korea Relations, India Korea Ties, India Korea Strategic Cooperation

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Published by: Dr. PANKAJ JHA on Sep 02, 2013
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10/06/2013

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Dr. Pankaj Jha, Research Fellow,Indian Council of World Affairs,Delhi@all rights reserved with the author 
India-Korea : Redefining Engagement
”In the Golden Age of AsiaKorea were one of the Lamp-bearersThat lamp waits to be lighted once AgainFor the Illumination of the East” 
Rabindranath Tagore in Japan in 1929 Abstract 
With the global economy witnessing incremental recovery from recession, Asia has been the centre of attention because of the impressive economic growth inIndia and China, despite the fact that many western countries have been facing the prolonged and recurrent recessionary phase. Apart from the developmentalaspects, the tensions in Korean peninsula, North Korean ‘satellitelaunch, nuclear tests and the constrained tensions between China and US in the South China Seahave also hogged the limelight in the past. In such a situation, there is a need for the regional players like India and Korea to create confidence building measuresamong the great powers for economic growth through cooperation especially under the shadow of strategic hedging between great powers. The historical relationshipbetween the two nations has gone through the roller coaster ride due toalignment/affiliation with different power blocs. Even till date India has beencautiously approaching the North Korean issue which has not found many takers inSouth Korea while South Korean elite are ignorant about south Asian nucleadynamics. This misalignment between the nations and the lack of awareness withregard to the two theatres of conflict namely South Asia and North East Asia havecreated a strategic drift between the two nations. Despite the fact that there hasbeen fruitful cooperation in economics sphere, the clear cut foreign policy guidelines is a required for better synergy in economic and political spheres. SouthKorea and India need to overcome ambivalence in terms of enhancing therelationship and with multilateral platforms like East Asian Summit in existence,there is need for more constructive approach. The sectors which can see fruitfulconvergence between the two nations could be multilateral organisations, defencetechnology, ship building, maritime security, human resource development andcultural aspects.
Given the backdrop of pathological stalemate in Doha round with noconsensus being reached on several issues in the WTO, both developed anddeveloping countries are left with no option but to pursue regionalism in a rigorousway to cater to their developmental and growth requirements. India is no exceptionto the idea and has signed several agreements in the last five years, theComprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Korea being the mostrecent. The signing of India-Korea CEPA in September 2009, though delayed, hasbeen welcomed and rightly so, by both the business community and policy makersfrom both the countries. This agreement which has provisions for substantial1
 
Dr. Pankaj Jha, Research Fellow,Indian Council of World Affairs,Delhi@all rights reserved with the author 
reduction of both tariffs and non-tariff barriers in a phased manner is expected totake India-Korea relations to a higher level and enhance India’s presence in EastAsia
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. Corporation between two countries, India and Korea was moulded accordingto the economic necessities as well as emerging complementarities. The India-Korea JSG had advocated for forging a Comprehensive Economic PartnershipAgreement (CEPA) encompassing trade in goods and services, measures for tradefacilitation, promotion, facilitation and liberalisation of investment flows, besidemeasures to beef up bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries.Among the 30 countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Cooperationand Development (OECD), Korea is the second country(Singapore being the firstdeveloped nation) with which India has completed the JSG report as well as signedthe Free Trade Agreement in August 2009
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.With the end of cold war when India undertook economic liberalization itadored China for its rapid economic growth but it wanted to emulate South Korea inmanaging economic liberalization. Many commentators have raised apprehensionswith regard to India treading the development path of Mexico or that of Korea. Onthe one hand Mexico was a case of stagflation while Korea was a case of plannedeconomic growth and sustained development over a long period of time. Indiawanted to carefully scrutinise the development part of Korea and undertook stepswhich are in consonance with the Korean ‘take off’ stage. Even after more than oneand half decades after the liberalisation initiative India has yet to reach Koreanmodel of growth but is poised to surpass Korea in the next two decades. Owing tothe close monitoring of Korean model during the initial stages, India has opened itsmarket for Korean companies and also due to this the foreign direct investmentfrom Korea to India multiplied during all these years. Companies like Samsung, LG,Hyundai and Korean telecom companies found easy docking in Indian market. Onthe economic front the two nations immediately found the required convergencebut on the other hand in terms of political understanding there is lot which needs tobe done. Also it has been opined that whether there can be strategiccomplementarities between the two nations. Both the nations are carefullyexploring this angle and the visits by the Korean President to India and IndianDefence Minister to Korea have highlighted this aspect. The paper deciphers thedifferent dimensions cooperation in different spheres and how the two nations cancomplement each other. In order to understand the intricacies of the relationship, itis useful to look at the historical aspect of the bilateral relationship.
Korea and India: Early Buddhist Contact
Historical and cultural contacts between India and South Korea date back to48 A.D. In ancient times Korean linkages with India were base on Buddhism
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.Buddhism spread to Koguryo, Paekche and Silla, the early three kingdoms on theKorean peninsula, between the 4th and the 6th centuries. This period of twocenturies saw the emergence of many defining features of the early state --centralised officialdom to regulate increasingly complex social and economicrelations, and the rise of Buddhism as a common ideology of the state and aninstrument of political legitimation. The acceptance of Buddhism by the royalties of 2
 
Dr. Pankaj Jha, Research Fellow,Indian Council of World Affairs,Delhi@all rights reserved with the author 
the early Korean kingdoms strengthened monarchical institution and promotedinternal cohesion by providing the people with a framework of ideologicalcoherence. In order to have an incisive understanding of Buddhist culture in Korea itis important to explain why Buddhism was able to penetrate into the courts of theearly Korean states. Were it because of the inability of the indigenous shamanicfaith to meet their political needs? And did Buddhism succeed in expanding itsappeal and influence in the subsequent period because it could more effectivelyperform many of the functions that shamans were hitherto called upon to fulfil?
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When Buddhist culture flourished in Korea many Korean monks travelled to India toseek sutras. The list of the Korean pilgrims who negotiated the death-defying journey to India is long--Kyomik, Hyeop, Hyongak, Taebom, Hyech'o and manymore. The name that shines luminously in the firmament of early India-Korearelations is that of Hyech'o. Hyech'o studied esoteric Buddhism in Tang Chinainitially under Subhakarsinha and then under Vajrabodhi who praised him as 'one of the six living persons who were well-trained in the five sections of the Buddhistcanons'. At the advice of his Indian teachers in China he set out for India to drinkdeep of the teachings of Buddha. A fragment of his travelogue named Wangoch'onch'ukkuk chon (Memoir of the Pilgrimage to the Five kingdoms of India) wasdiscovered by Paul Pelliot in the Dunhuang grotto early this century which providesinvaluable materials for weaving the fabric of the social history of India in the eighthcentury
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. The close cultural and historical contacts were lost in due course of time. These were revived after 1962 when interactions developed between the twonations in the aftermath of the Sino-Indian war but India’s preference for erstwhileSoviet Union as a close ally was seen as an alienating posture by South Korea.
Cold War Perceptions: Waning or Lingering?
 The United States after the Korean War started looking at South Korea as one of theAllies countries which would be instrumental in securing its strategic interest andoperational needs. This led to one of the most lasting relationship between UnitedStates and South Korea. On the other hand with India’s fixation with Soviet Unionas well as its stance with regard to Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia has createdtemporary fissures between India and South Korea. The phase of cold war was aphase of mistrust, distressed and raucous relations. India also tried to get muchcloser with Soviet Union of spare the signing of the 1971 friendship treaty witherstwhile Soviet Union. Thereafter, India’s role in recognition of Vietnam and theCambodian crisis, has annoyed US allies as well as a number of Southeast AsiancountriesSince the late 1990s, China had exerted a considerable pull one foreign investmentflows. As a result, the capitals surplus economies of East Asia were largely engagedin their vast neighbour’s market. In such a context, many decision-makers in theregion for much to commend in India as liberalization, for it gave them theopportunity to diversify their investment destinations –in other words, not toventure everything on a China political development remained far from foreseeable. The Indian economy offered valuable export prospects for these countries, which3

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