From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not Much
Mains level : India-Myanmar relations
The Foreign Secretary and Chief of the Army Staff have recently visited Myanmar reflected India’s multidimensional interests in the country.
Try this question:
Q.Myanmar is the key in linking South Asia to Southeast Asia and the eastern periphery becomes the focal point for New Delhi’s regional outreach. Analyse.
- There are two lines of thinking that drive India’s Myanmar policy: engagement with key political actors and balancing neighbours.
- For Myanmar, the visit would be viewed as India’s support for its efforts in strengthening democratization amidst criticisms by rights groups over the credibility of its upcoming election.
Non-interference in internal politics
- The political logic that has shaped India’s Myanmar policy since the 1990s has been to support democratization driven from within the country.
- This has allowed Delhi to engage with the military that played a key role in Myanmar’s political transition and is still an important political actor.
- A key factor behind the military regime’s decision to open the country when it initiated reforms was, in part, to reduce dependence on China.
India as an alternative
- By engaging Myanmar, Delhi provides alternative options to Naypyidaw.
- This driver in India’s Myanmar policy has perhaps gained greater salience in the rapidly changing regional geopolitics.
- Like in other neighbouring countries, India suffers from an image of being unable to get its act together in making its presence felt on the ground.
- The inauguration of the liaison office of the Embassy of India in Naypyidaw (the capital) may seem a routine diplomatic activity.
- However, establishing a permanent presence in the capital where only a few countries have set up such offices does matter.
- Interestingly, China was the first country to establish a liaison office in Naypyidaw in 2017.
- India has also proposed to build a petroleum refinery in Myanmar that would involve an investment of $6 billion.
- This is an indication of Myanmar’s growing significance in India’s strategic calculus.
- It also shows India’s evolving competitive dynamic with China in the sector at a time when tensions between the two have intensified.
- Another area of cooperation that has expanded involves the border areas.
- Furthermore, the recent announcement that India was transferring a Kilo-class submarine to Myanmar demonstrates the depth of their cooperation in the maritime domain.
The balancing act
- For Delhi, the balancing act between Bangladesh and Myanmar remains one of the keys to its overall approach to the Rohingya issue.
- Delhi has reiterated its support for “ensuring the safe, sustainable and speedy return of displaced persons” to Myanmar.
- By positioning as playing an active role in facilitating the return of Rohingya refugees, India has made it clear that it supports Myanmar’s efforts and also understands Bangladesh’s burden.
- For Delhi, engaging rather than criticizing is the most practical approach to finding a solution.
- For India, Myanmar is key in linking South Asia to Southeast Asia and the eastern periphery becomes the focal point for New Delhi’s regional outreach.
- Delhi’s political engagement and diplomatic balancing seem to have worked so far in its ties with Myanmar.
- Whether it has leveraged these advantages on the ground to the full is open to debate.
- The aforementioned initiatives could be the beginning of change on the ground by establishing India’s presence in sectors where it ought to be more pronounced.