India-Myanmar Relations

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  • Assessing the Bodh Gaya Terror Attack

    With increased cross-border mobility, instantaneous access to information and easy reach to small arms, terror attacks in India are finding new targets.

    July 25, 2013

    Akash Pratap asked: What is the role of Myanmar in India’s “Look East Policy”?

    Reply: Refer to an earlier reply by Udai Bhanu Singh on a similar query, at

    Also, refer to following publications by the IDSA faculty:

    Myanmar’s Critical Role in Bolstering India’s Look East Policy
    Arvind Gupta, February 2, 2012, at

    An Assessment of Manmohan Singh’s Visit to Myanmar
    Udai Bhanu Singh, IDSA Issue Brief, June 1, 2012, at

    The Significance of Connectivity in India-Myanmar Relations
    Shristi Pukhrem, July 6, 2012, at

    Southeast Asia-India Defence Relations in the Changing Regional Security Landscape
    Bilveer Singh, IDSA Monograph Series No. 4, 2011, at

    Cooperation Between Indian and Myanmar Armed Forces: Need to Move Away from a Weapons & Equipment Supply-Based Relationship

    While India has supplied arms and equipment quite selectively to Myanmar, the outcome, which was expected to serve India’s interests, has not been commensurate.

    January 15, 2013

    Mahendra Pande asked: What are the actual reasons for ethnic violence in Myanmar? What active role could India play in it?

    Udai Bhanu Singh replies: Ethnic conflict is one of Myanmar’s biggest challenges. It makes the task of national reconciliation tougher. Myanmar is a multi-ethnic country composed of seven ethnically designated states and regions (with Bamar or Burman majority) referred to in the colonial period as ’Frontier’ Burma and ’Ministerial’ Burma. The Burmans (mostly Buddhist), who are 68 per cent of the total population, form the majority. The other ethnic groups are the Shans, the Karens, the Rakhines, the Kachins, Chins, Was, Palaungs, the Nagas, etc.

    The British effectively put the country on a path of separate economic and political development when it divided it into ‘Ministerial Burma’ (dominated by the Burmans and directly governed) and ’Outer Burma’ (dominated by the minorities and allowed a measure of autonomy). The British policy of preferring minorities in their recruitment to the army and civil administration saw a reaction in the post-independence period of military rule. The 2008 Constitution provided for six Self-Administered Zone/Division: Naga, Danu, Pa-O, Pa Laung, Kokang and Wa respectively. Following the 2010 general elections, demands for a second Panglong Conference were raised. However, the statelessness of Rohingya Muslims contributed to the violence and refugee flow seen in the recent past.

    India, on its part, desires stability in its neighbourhood and especially because of the common ethnic population on either side of the India-Myanmar border. India seeks to contribute to ethnic peace in Myanmar through improved economic condition, greater connectivity, emphasis on community based development with emphasis on health and education sector. In all this besides the government, the private sector and NGOs are required to be important stakeholders.

    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

    The Significance of Connectivity in India-Myanmar Relations

    With better connectivity and implementation of various development projects, the Asian Highway would enable the North-East region to become a business hub of South Asia.

    July 06, 2012

    Mahendra Pande asked: Why Myanmar in recent years has become a key strategic partner for India, although during 80s and 90s India was very aloof about it?

    Udai Bhanu Singh replies: It is perhaps not apt to say that India had been aloof about Myanmar in the 1980s and 1990s. India has been finessing its policy vis-à-vis this geo-strategically significant ASEAN country. Our common experience of struggle against colonialism was carried over into the post-independence period as well. Then, as the realpolitik requirements of statecraft hit us, the sentimentalism of the freedom struggle era was shed (around 1993) in preference for a more pragmatic approach of dealing with the regime in power. Even then it must not be construed as an abandonment of India's principles (which include faith in democracy). However, whatever political system Myanmar obtains is entirely a matter of choice of its own people. As the transition to democracy began, India too came out in support of the process in Myanmar because it considers it a key strategic neighbour.

    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

    Drug Trafficking in India: A Case for Border Security

    Drug Trafficking in India: A Case for Border Security

    Trafficking of drugs takes place overwhelmingly through land borders followed by sea and air routes. Given the vulnerability of the borders to drug trafficking, India has tried to tackle the problem through the strategy of drug supply and demand reduction, which involves enacting laws, co-operating with voluntary organisations, securing its borders and coasts by increasing surveillance, as well as seeking the active cooperation of its neighbours and the international community.