[18 March 2024] The Hindu Op-ed: The Myanmar conflict is a regional problem

Mains PYQ Relevance:

  1. Analyze internal security threats and transborder crimes along Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Pakistan borders including the Line of Control (LoC). Also, discuss the role played by various security forces in this regard. (UPSC CSE 2020)
  2. The cross-border movement of insurgents is only one of the several security challenges facing the policing of the border in North-East India. Examine the various challenges currently emanating across the India-Myanmar border. Also, discuss the steps to counter the challenges. (UPSC CSE 2019)
  3. Evaluate the economic and strategic dimensions of India’s Look East Policy in the context of the post-Cold War international scenario. (UPSC CSE 2016)


  • Prelims: ASEAN; Bilateral Relations;
  • Mains: North-East India; Bilateral Relations; International Organisation; Act East Policy;

Mentor comments: The conflict in Myanmar is not just a domestic issue but a regional problem that requires support from ASEAN and other international stakeholders. The situation on the ground is dire, with over two million civilians displaced within Myanmar and 1.5 million seeking refuge outside the country since the 2021 coup. This mass exodus has led to significant destabilization, affecting approximately 25 million people living in poverty in Myanmar. The conflict has spilled over into neighboring countries, posing security risks and humanitarian challenges for Bangladesh, China, India, and Thailand. We must study and analyze this issue given the ASEAN neighbors step up their efforts to resolve the conflict and support Myanmar’s people in their quest for stable, prosperous, and democratic resolutions.

Let’s learn.

Why in the News?

Despite efforts by ASEAN and other international bodies to mediate, the conflict has worsened over the past three years.

  • By the end of 2023, most of Myanmar’s townships are experiencing active fighting, with a substantial portion out of democratic control.
What is the Current Situation?
  • By the end of 2023, around 40% of Myanmar’s townships were beyond the junta’s control, with a surge in resistance groups challenging the junta’s authority.
  • Operation 1027, an offensive by ethnic forces in October 2023, successfully overran numerous junta camps and gained control of border gates.

What are the two major causes that are responsible for the illegal migration of the Myanmar Population?

Since the 2021 coup in Myanmar, the two major issues have led to significant displacement, with over 1.5 million individuals seeking refuge outside the country.

  • The Ethnic Conflict and ‘Rohingya Crisis’:
    • The crisis has particularly affected the Rohingya population, with more than 960,000 Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh, primarily in the Cox’s Bazar region.
    • Previously the conflict escalated in August 2017, leading to a massive exodus of Rohingya refugees following brutal crackdowns by the military in Rakhine State.
    • This was described as “the most persecuted minority in the world,” that faced decades of violence, discrimination, and persecution in Myanmar.
  • Natural Disasters:
    • The situation has been worsened by environmental hazards like cyclones and monsoons, which pose additional risks with inadequate shelter and sanitation facilities.
    • Cyclone Mocha in May 2023 caused widespread destruction and impacted Rohingya refugees.
    • Although the International community, including organizations like UNHCR, is working towards providing humanitarian assistance, protection, and support, still the issue continues with escalations.

The challenges for ASEAN in Stability with Myanmar:

  • Ineffectiveness of ASEAN:
    • Despite claims of over 260 meetings by Indonesia, the ASEAN chair, to address the crisis in Myanmar, the conflict in Myanmar has worsened over the past three years, with most townships experiencing active fighting and a significant portion out of the junta’s control.
    • ASEAN special envoy was stonewalled by Naypyidaw. This has been criticized for its inability to address the escalating violence and human rights abuses in Myanmar.
  • Post-Coup Dilemma:
    • After the 2021 coup in Myanmar, international stakeholders, including the US, UN, and EU, looked to ASEAN to lead efforts in resolving the conflict.
    • However, ASEAN was engaged in discussions with junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing, reaching a five-point consensus after one month of serious events like the looting of Mizzima’s headquarters.
  • Criticism for Ignoring People’s Response:
    • Despite widespread calls for an end to military rule and the establishment of democracy, the State Administration Council (SAC) – the junta’s self-styled name – continues to ignore the people’s demands.
    • The junta has escalated its suppression tactics, including arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings, and attacks on civilians and journalists, disregarding the population’s pleas for change.

Challenges faced by Independent Media in Myanmar:

  • Media Landscape Post-Coup: Post military coup in 2021, led to severe crackdowns on independent media outlets, with licenses revoked and journalists facing violent repression hampering Freedom of Expression.
    • Myanmar’s media landscape has evolved over the years, transitioning from strict censorship to more openness before facing setbacks post-coup.
    Journalists’ Safety: Journalists were among the first targets after the coup, leading to arrests, killings, and a significant decline in the fundamentals of Living Rights and Press Freedom.
  • Financial Struggles: Independent media outlets in Myanmar face financial challenges due to a collapse in digital advertising prices and restrictions on social media platforms.

How India’s Act East Policy can play a significant role in addressing the Myanmar issue?

  • Economic Development and Trade: By promoting trade relations with ASEAN countries for economic development and industrialization, India can contribute to Myanmar’s economic growth and stability, which is crucial for addressing the ongoing crisis.
  • Connectivity and Infrastructure Development: Projects like the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Port Project, which connects India’s eastern seaports to Myanmar’s Sittwe Port, initiatives can improve trade routes and facilitate economic development in Myanmar, contributing to stability and progress.
  • Humanitarian Assistance and Refugee Crisis: The Act East Policy can address the humanitarian aspect by providing support to refugees and working towards resolving the root causes of displacement, India can contribute to alleviating the humanitarian challenges faced by Myanmar and its people.
  • Diplomatic Engagement and Regional Cooperation: India’s diplomatic efforts within ASEAN through active engagement and dialogue, India can support peace-building initiatives and contribute to stability in Myanmar.

Conclusion: The international community, including ASEAN and the UN, continues to work towards finding a political solution in Myanmar, emphasizing the importance of coordinated action, targeted sanctions, and diplomatic efforts to address the crisis and protect the people of Myanmar.





User Avatar

By Er S

Helping the community learn better

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch