Thursday, July 2, 2009

Indo-Myanmar Bilateral Relation

India maintained friendly relation with Burma till the military junta usurped power there in 1962.The two nations maintained distance from each other as India continued to criticize the military rule and praised pro democracy movements in Burma.This is the phase of "Idealism" between India and Burma.Moreover, obsessed by the security of the western front against the aggression of Pakistan,India paid little attention towards the eastern front.

However after around three decades, in the late 90's India changed her stance realizing the strategic importance of Burma in the eastern front.The Chinese policy of using Myanmar as a naval base of its sting of pearls strategy to encircle India in the Indian Ocean had made India realize the strategic importance of India.Beside, with growing trade with the South East Asian nations, Myanmar importance as a trade route was being felt.There was a growing need to curb insurgency in the North Eastern states.Thus "Realism" replaced "Idealism" in India's diplomatic attitude towards Myanmar from the late 90s.

So the reasons behind India's change of policy towards Myanmar can be summarized as below
  • The so called "Chinese" threat
  • To bring stability in the North Eastern region
  • In the willingness for keeping close ties with South East Asian nations especially the ASEAN countries after the "Look East Policy"
The highlights of the relation
  • Both are part of BIMSTEC, started from 1997
  • Both are part of Mekong Ganga Cooperation, started from 2001
  • The "India-Myanmar Friendship Bridge" was inaugurated in 2001
  • India and Myanmar signed a Bilateral Investment Promotion agreement in 2008
  • The total volume of trade between the two countries amounts to more than Rs 2600 Crore with the balance tilted towards Myanmar.
  • Despite the criticism from the international communities especially the western world for being lukewarm towards the pro democracy movements in Myanmar, India has continued to maintain her relation with Myanmar for strategic, internal security and economic reasons
Challenges before India:
  • India must pressurize the military junta government in Myanmar to introduce democracy in Myanmar.
  • The amount of exports to Myanmar has to be increased. Presently it is around one third of what Myanmar exports to India.
  • The Indian leaders must convince their Burmese counterparts to take strict stance against their insurgent outfits who are providing help to the insurgents in the North-Eastern states.

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