Indo-Myanmar Relations

Note4Students

Any bilateral relationship between neighbouring countries should be considered in the larger matrix of regional development. India Myanmar relationship should be seen as the part of Act east policy, which would bolster the development of north eastern states. Recent Rohingya crisis poses grave threat to the regional security. So India Myanmar relationship is important for this year examination

Context

PM has recently Visited Myanmar. This will be the Second visit of PM modi To Myanmar.

Introduction

  1. India shares a long land border of over 1600 Km with Myanmar as well as a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal. Four north-eastern states viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram share boundary with Myanmar.
  2. These geo-strategic realities encompass our broader interests in the Indian Ocean region. Both countries share a heritage of religious, linguistic and ethnic ties.
  3. Further, Myanmar is the only ASEAN country adjoining India and, therefore, our gateway to South East Asia with which we are seeking greater economic integration through India’s ‘Look East’ and now ‘Act East’ Policy. Business opportunities that emerge from a surging economy in Myanmar also provide new vistas for engagement.

Analysis

Recent Developements

  1. The landslide victory by Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) in November 2015 general elections and the formation of NLD government has provided opportunities to strengthen the engagement building on our previous efforts.
  2. India expressed its “deep concern” about the situation in Rakhine State where security forces have been engaged in a bloody battle against Rohingya insurgents, forcing thousands of people to flee neighbouring Bangladesh and India.
  3. New Delhi asked Myanmar to focus on the welfare of the civilian population as well security forces and underlined that it is imperative that violence is ended and normalcy in the State restored expeditiously.
  4. India also refused to be a part of a declaration adopted at an international conference recently in Indonesia as it carried “inappropriate” reference to violence in Rakhine state from where Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh.

Why is Myanmar important for India? 

1) Geo-strategic Location

This is one of the most important factors in determining diplomatic ties with other countries.
Burma is located south of the states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India. The Indo-Burmese border stretches over 1,600 kilometers.

With the expansionist policy of China and growing insurgency in North East states of India , it is very important for India that neighbors like Bangladesh and Myanmar co-operate India on issues regarding border-infiltration , money laundering , human trafficking and penetrating drug and fake currency through porous land borders shared with them.


2) India’s Look East Policy

India’s Look East policy represents its efforts to cultivate extensive economic and strategic relations with the nations of Southeast Asia in order to bolster its standing as a regional power and a counterweight to the strategic influence of the People’s Republic of China.

Two highways involving Myanmar play a vital role in improving connectivity in the South East Asian region.

3) India-Myanmar-Thailand Friendship Highway

India and Myanmar have agreed to a 4-lane, 3200 km triangular highway connecting India, Myanmar and Thailand. The route, which is expected to be completed by sometime during 2016, will run from India’s northeastern states into Myanmar, where over 1,600 km of roads will be built or improved.

4) Access to North-east

Image result for kaladan multimodal project
The Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project will connect the eastern Indian seaport of Kolkata with Sittwe seaport in Myanmar by sea; it will then link Sittwe seaport toLashio in Myanmar via Kaladan river boat route and then from Lashio on to Mizoram in India by road transport

Various Aspects of India –Myanmar Relationship

Defence& Security Cooperation

  1. has strengthened over the years. Exchange of high-level visits,
  2. signing of MoU on Border Cooperation, training, Army, Air Force and Naval Staff Talks are important indicators in this direction.
  3. .In July 2017, Sr Gen Min Aung Hliang, C-in-C 3 Myanmar Defence Services visited India, in what was his second visit in as many years, giving an opportunity to further cement defence ties.
  4. Myanmar side has provided assurances at the highest levels that it will cooperate with India in taking necessary action in preventing the use of Myanmar territory for anti-India activity.

Rohingya crisis (refer the article of Rohingya crisis)

 Myanmar’s more dependence on China

  1. Given that the visit will be taking place after the Doklam crisis, there will be a temptation in India to see the visit of the prime minister as an attempt to build a robust relationship in the neighbourhood to counter the growing Chinese presence in the region.
  2. It should be noted that the Myanmar government today is more dependent on Chinese support than it was two or three years ago.
  3. Its dependence on China characterised by a largely extractive relationship focused on natural resources and access to the Bay of Bengal where it already has an oil and gas terminal, concession to build a Special Economic Zone and seeks a possibly controlling stake in a natural deep sea harbour at Kyaukpyu that could form part of its ambitious BRI.
  4. China has been a major player in the peace negotiations between the armed ethnic groups and the Myanmar government.
  5. Further, because of the on-going conflict in the Rakhine state, the Myanmar government will be dependent on the support from China on various human right platforms including the Security Council.
  6. Successive Indian prime ministers have refrained from assessing the relationship with Myanmar through the prism of China and instead focused on developing a comprehensive bilateral relationship.

Commercial Cooperation:

  1. A bilateral Trade Agreement was signed in 1970. Bilateral trade has been growing steadily to reach US$2178.44 million (2016-17),
  2. of which Indian exports amounted to US$1111.19 million and Indian’s imports to US$1067.25 million.
  3. India is the fifth largest trading partner of Myanmar but trade remains below potential.
  4. Agriculture sector dominates trade, particularly supply of beans & pulses to India ($ 809million, 2016-17) and timber ($ 156 million).
  5. India’s exports to Myanmar include sugar ($ 424 million), pharmaceuticals ($ 184 million), etc. Border trade via Moreh and Zawkhatar reached to $ 87.89 million;
  6. India is presently the tenth largest investor with an approved investment of US$ 740.64 million by 25 Indian companies (as of 30Jun 2017).
  7. Most India’s investments have been in oil & gas sector. 100% FDI is allowed in select sectors. Indian companies have evinced interest in investing in Myanmar and major contracts have been won by Indian companies.
  8. Besides normal trade, both sides have also taken steps to bolster trade across the land border. Cooperation in the banking sector is crucial for investment and trade. United Bank of India signed banking agreements with banks of Myanmar (MFTB, MICB, MEB, and 9 private banks) to facilitate bilateral trade
  9. Myanmar is an important partner in our energy relations with other countries.MOS for Petroleum & Natural Gas,.

Development Cooperation:

  1. We have extended development assistance on generous terms.
  2. We are committed to provide grant-in-aid assistance amounting to almost Rs 4000 crore (of total commitment of approx. US$ 1726 million).
  3. These include
  • support for the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project;
  • the Trilateral Highway Project, which is an East-West corridor connecting our Northeast with Myanmar and Thailand;
  • the Rhi-Tiddim road;
  • supply of Bailey bridges;
  • assistance for border area development in the Naga Self Administered Zone by financing bridges, roads, schools and small health centres;
  1. assistance in setting up institutions for higher learning and research,
  • namely Myanmar Institute of Information Technology,
  • Advance Centre for Agricultural Research and Education,
  • Myanmar-India Entrepreneurship Development Centre, Myanmar-India Centre for English Language Training,
  • Myanmar-India Entrepreneurship Development Centre, Myanmar-India Centre for English Language Training,
  • India-Myanmar Industrial Training Centres,, Sittwe General Hospital etc.

Culture:

  1. India and Myanmar share close cultural ties and a sense of deep kinship given India’s Buddhist heritage.
  2. Building on this shared heritage India is undertaking some key initiatives:
  3. Restoration of the Ananda Temple in Bagan and
  4. GOI donation of a 16 foot replica of the Sarnath Buddha Statue which has been installed at the premises of Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon.
  5. The ‘Samvad-II’ Interfaith dialogue was held on 6-7 August 2017, Yangon.
  6. ICCR and Sitagu International Buddhist Academy organised an International Conference on Buddhist Cultural Heritage
  7. We have responded to Myanmar’s interest in restoring and renovating two historic temples in Bodh Gaya built by Myanmar rulers King Mindon and King Baygyidaw. These temples and inscriptions will now be restored with the assistance of the Archaeological Survey of India as a bilateral friendship project.

Indian diaspora:

  1. The origin of the Indian community in Myanmar is traced to the mid-19thcentury with the advent of the British rule in Lower Burma in 1852.
  2. The two cities Yangon and Mandalay had a dominating presence of Indians in civil services, education, trade and commerce during the British rule.
  3. There are varying estt. of 1.5-2.5 million people of Indian origin living and working in various parts of Myanmar.

Bilateral Cooperation in Regional/ Sub-regional context:

ASEAN: As the only ASEAN country which shares a land border with India, Myanmar is a bridge between India and ASEAN.

BIMSTEC: Myanmar is a signatory to the BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement. Myanmar is the lead country for the energy sector. Myanmar trades mostly with Thailand and India in the BIMSTEC region. Myanmar’s major exports to India are agricultural products like beans, pulses and maize and forest products such as teak and hardwoods. Its imports from India include chemical products, pharmaceuticals, electrical appliances and transport equipment.

Mekong Ganga Cooperation: Myanmar is a member of the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) since its inception in November 2000. MGC is an initiative by six countries – India and five ASEAN countries namely, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – for cooperation in the fields of tourism, education, culture, transport and communication. The chairmanship of MGC is assumed by member countries in alphabetical order.

SAARC: Myanmar was given the status of observer in SAARC in August 2008.

Conclusion

  1. In India, we often say Myanmar is our “gateway” to the East. Against the rhetoric, the existing connectivity between the two neighbours remains much to be desired. With long land and maritime boundaries, surely, the neighbours are yet to take full advantage of geography.
  2. Historically, India has been a major player in Myanmar’s socio-economic landscape till the 1960s. The advent of military dictatorship and its economic policies reduced India’s interactions with Myanmar.
  3. As the political transition in Myanmar picks up momentum, it provides an excellent opportunity for Prime Minister to explore new avenues of cooperation.

Question:

“Bolstering relationship with Myanmar is important for sustainable neighbourhood”. Comment

Rohingya refugee crisis should be seen as security threat to the region. Analyse

Source:

Ministry of External affairs

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