India-Myanmar Relations

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  • 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.

    Uday asked: Can it be said that the situation in India’s neighbourhood today is far more stable than ever before, especially in view of recent developments in Myanmar, Bangladesh, etc?

    Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: The countries in India's neighbourhood are in the process of adapting to the competitive reflexes of democracy. True, there have been political turmoils/unrests in Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives and Bangladesh, but the silver lining in the cloud is that their commitment to stick to the democratic system remains quite firm. There are grave challenges that each of these countries will have to overcome-- in Nepal, the slow process of consensus building; in Pakistan-- various institutions engaged in an insidious struggle for power and exploring their limits; in Sri Lanka-- majoritarian arrogance trumping the spirit of democracy; in Bangladesh-- the extreme bipolarity in politics asserting itself, and in Maldives-- the early pangs of a difficult transition to democracy.

    In this situation, India's pragmatic neighbourhood policy with an emphasis on economic cooperation, connectivity and dialogue has created an ambience for positive change in the region. Its bilateral arrangements/agreements with Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have provided an impetus for growth and prosperity. The ongoing process of dialogue between India and Pakistan has already resulted in Pakistan agreeing to accord MFN status to India. The shift in American policy towards Myanmar, in the wake of the Myanmarese government's decision to usher in democracy in the Junta controlled state, has proved that India's policy of engagement in the past was wise and effective.

    Overall, the neighborhood may not be as stable as one would have wished it to be, but India's creative approach is likely to contribute to regional prosperity and stability. A lot would, however, depend on the way the domestic political dynamics, in each of the countries in the region, unfold in the days to come.

    Hans Raj Singh aked: What is the importance of Myanmar for India?

    Udai Bhanu Singh replies: Myanmar’s importance lies in its geo-strategic location at the tri-junction of east, south-east and south Asia. It is the only south-east Asian country with which India has a land border which accounts for its significance in the development of India’s northeast and in the context of India’s Look East Policy. Added to this is the China factor, need for stability in the Indian Ocean, and its potential as a proximate source of energy. Besides, India’s democratic credentials (for a country in transition), and historical and cultural ties (for a nation which reveres Buddhism), makes Myanmar an apt avenue for the exercise of India’s soft power.

    Amol Shinde asked: Is Myanmar's democratisation in India's favour vis-à-vis China ?

    Udai Bhanu Singh replies: The democratic transition underway in Myanmar is a happy augury for India, the world’s largest democracy. Yet, India does not advocate the ‘export’ of democracy. Besides, a democratic movement which is indigenous (but is open to fresh ideas from outside) has greater chances of success. The initial attempt at democracy in 1988 (and the 1990 elections thereafter) did not fructify as it was suppressed. As the West imposed sanctions (taking the high moral ground), China seized the opportunity to make inroads into the country with heavy economic and military aid and investment.

    A new era dawned in Myanmar with the new 2008 Constitution, the November 2010 elections, and the new parliament, which holds the prospect of reconciliation among the three stakeholders in Myanmar: the military, the political parties and the ethnic groups. Myanmar’s democratisation will help the country break out of economic isolation. Second, military assistance would help wean it away from China’s clasp. Democratisation in Myanmar would restore the balance in its polity and help address the issue of developmental neglect in minority dominated border provinces (adjoining both India’s northeast and China). Internal stability in Myanmar (with improved inter-ethnic relations) would render greater autonomy to the country in its external relations (evidenced in the suspension of China-led Myitsone dam project recently). While it appears unlikely that China’s other mega-projects (such as Kyaukphyu port development and the dual pipeline and railway line starting from the same port) would be adversely affected, it will introduce alternative players into the fray. As the ASEAN members (and the world community) take note of China’s assertion in the South China Sea and China’s access to the Indian Ocean, a growing interest in Myanmar’s democratisation process is a welcome development.

    Myanmar’s Critical Role in Bolstering India’s Look East Policy

    Cooperation with India will help natural resources-rich Myanmar develop its true potential. And cooperation with Myanmar will help India transform the North-East, bolster its Look East Policy, and help it emerge as a major Asian power

    February 02, 2012

    Why Replace the Assam Rifles along the Indo-Myanmar Border?

    Replacing the Assam Rifles with the BSF along the Indo-Myanmar will be a sub-optimal option to ensure security in the Northeast region.

    July 29, 2011

    Tamanthi Hydel Project: India’s Eastern Foothold

    Building dams like the Tamanthi represent India’s attempt to enhance strategic ties with Myanmar, which is seen as India’s gateway to the ASEAN.

    June 06, 2011

    China Entices Myanmar as India Struggles to ‘Look East’

    India must revitalise, implement and act on infrastructure and economic development projects in the North East to build its relationship and harness the energy potential in Myanmar.

    April 11, 2011

    PM’s visit to Malaysia and Vietnam

    As India deepens its strategic engagement with the countries of South East Asia, ASEAN needs to make up its mind on the mechanisms required to tackle core security issues instead of outsourcing them to a multitude of organisations.

    November 08, 2010

    Elections in Myanmar

    On one hand the military Junta is wary of the international backlash in case it tampers with the election process, and on the other it knows what its fate would be if ‘truly fair and democratic elections’ are held.

    August 19, 2010