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  • Response to Udai Bhanu Singh's Essay, Do the Changes in Myanmar Signify a Real Transition?

    1. In general terms, it is my impression that the author is far too optimistic about what recent changes in Myanmar can lead to. Power is still in the hands of the military and there is precious little a small group of National League for Democracy (NLD) assemblymen and women (seven per cent of the total) can accomplish. Besides, the November 2010 election was blatantly rigged, and there is no guarantee that the next election, in 2015, will not also be tampered with.

    January 2013

    Do the Changes in Myanmar Signify a Real Transition? A Critique/Response

    Dr. Singh's article summarises parts of Myanmar's reform process. However, he misses out the historical background that led to the current reforms and he does not unpack some of the more complex factors in this process. This critique/response will try to complete the picture of the three top priorities of the Myanmar government: national reconciliation, ethnic peace and economic reforms.

    January 2013

    Do the Changes in Myanmar Signify a Real Transition?

    Myanmar is in the midst of a phase of historic transformation, both in the domestic sphere and in its external relations. This time the change that is occurring is substantive, not cosmetic. The direction of the change has been largely established, although the pace could depend on the actual circumstances.

    January 2013

    Arnab Sen asked: What is the status of ceasefire agreement between the Myanmar government and the minority ethnic rebels?

    Udai Bhanu Singh replies: Ethnic minorities constitute 30 per cent of Myanmar’s total population, with Bamars being the majority group. In the 1990s, some 25 ceasefire agreements in all were signed. An important role was played by erstwhile Prime Minister Khin Nyunt in negotiating cease-fire with breakaway groups of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), like the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO). These agreements often gave the insurgent groups informal sanction to engage in narcotic trade and free trade with the PRC and Thailand, while the government turned a blind eye. The quid pro quo was that the non-state armed groups (NSAGs) permitted a semblance of peace on the border. The military junta was in effect seeking to buy time till it was strong enough to bring the (outlying) areas directly under its control.

    Later, on September 1, 2010, the government asked the NSAGs to surrender their arms and transform themselves into the Border Guard Force (BGF). Now, as Myanmar democratises, the ceasefires have to ensure effective governance and rule of law while utilising this opportunity for capacity building and infrastructure development. The one contrary trend was the break up of the ceasefire with the KIO after 17 years.

    Many NSAGs had signed ceasefire agreements, including, interestingly, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang faction (NSCN-K). Those who have not signed ceasefire agreements, besides KIO, include the Arakan National Council (ANC), Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF), Lahu Democratic Front (LDU) and the Wa National Organisation (WNO). When the government sent Aung Min to hold negotiations with representatives of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) in Chiang Mai in November 2012, it continued to maintain that the NSAGs first disarm and then form political parties in order to address political issues.

    Obama’s Visit to Myanmar

    Obama’s visit strengthens the hands of President U Thein Sein and has raised expectation that it would encourage the Myanmar government to address the democratisation and ethnic challenges.

    November 29, 2012

    Tedim Road—The Strategic Road on a Frontier: A Historical Analysis

    The article is an attempt to study the history of the Tedim Road, a 265 km transborder road connecting Imphal (the capital of Manipur in India) with Tedim in the Chin Hills (Chin State) in western Burma (Myanmar). It was constructed by the British solely for the purpose of facilitating military movements along the India–Burma frontier during the Second World War.

    September 2012

    The Persecuted Rohingyas of Myanmar: Need for Political Accommodation and India`s Role

    While India is not immediately affected by the Rohingya refugee migration from Myanmar, it cannot be oblivious to the regional dimensions of such human migrations based on ethnic discontent.

    August 13, 2012

    India’s Neighbourhood: Challenges in the Next Two Decades

    India’s Neighbourhood: Challenges in the Next Two Decades
    • Publisher: Pentagon Security International

    The chapters in the book take a prospective look at India's neighbourhood, as it may evolve by 2030. They underline the challenges that confront Indian policymakers, the opportunities that are likely to emerge, and the manner in which they should frame foreign and security policies for India, to maximise the gains and minimise the losses.

    • ISBN 978-81-8274-687-9,
    • Price: ₹. 995/-
    • E-copy available

    An Assessment of Manmohan Singh’s Visit to Myanmar

    Political change in Myanmar is palpable and a sensitive and proactive approach is required to prevent the initiative slipping from India’s hands.

    June 01, 2012

    Sairam asked: Why do states like Bangladesh and Myanmar support insurgency in India?

    Anand Kumar replies: There is considerable change in the policy followed by both Bangladesh and Myanmar in supporting insurgency in northeast India. Bangladesh started supporting insurgency after 1975 when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of the country, was killed in a coup on 15 August 1975. After his killing, right wing forces asserted themselves in Bangladesh. After a series of coups and counter coups, General Zia ur Rahman came to power. He reversed the policies followed by Mujib. He started following a policy that was hostile to India. One of the offshoots of his policy was the revival of support to northeast insurgents that was earlier taking place during the Pakistan rule. However, after coming to power in January 2009, Sheikh Hasina reversed this policy and is taking action against Indian insurgents groups who have been using Bangladeshi territory.

    As far as Myanmar is concerned, some misunderstanding was created in the Indo-Myanmarese relations after 1962. This prompted Myanmar to allow Indian insurgents to use its territory. Moreover, India’s border with Myanmar is densely forested which is used by insurgents sometime without the knowledge of Myanmarese authorities. However, in recent times, Myanmar government has taken several steps against Indian insurgent groups.