Foreign Policy Watch: India-Myanmar

Places in the news: Sittwe Port

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sittwe port

Mains level : Paper 2- Why India should engage with Myanmar

Context

Notwithstanding the unfortunate developments since the Tatmadaw took over, a recalibration exercise for developing a robust relationship with Naypyidaw is the need of the hour.

Need for proactive neighbourhood policy with Myanmar

  • Security and economic interests: India should implement an unbiased and proactive “Neighbourhood First” strategy that facilitates the Act East policy crucial for India’s long-term security and economic interests.
  • Myanmar — regardless of who governs its polity — is not only the decisive lynchpin for India’s Act East policy but critical for the economic development and security of India’s Northeast.
  • China factor: Such a policy should take into account the measures that China has taken to arm the Tatmadaw.

How to support Myanmar?

  • Critical requirements: India should find ways to support Naypyidaw for its critical requirements of systems and platforms like UAVs, surveillance systems and communication equipment.
  • Economic engagement: There is a need for dynamic economic engagement with Myanmar, to expedite the completion of the earlier agreement on the operationalisation of the Sittwe port, the establishment of an oil refinery and joint vaccine production facilities at a cost of $6 billion.
  • People-to-people goodwill: India also needs to proactively employ the existing “people-to-people” goodwill and proximate ties between the two armies.
  • Engage with military leadership to stop highhandedness: India has the singular advantage of acceptability from both factions in Myanmar and it is, therefore, imperative that it takes the lead in engaging with the ruling military leadership, to stop the highhandedness.
  • The visit by India’s Foreign Secretary to Myanmar in the last week of December 2021 was significant.
  • It conveyed the message that India, notwithstanding its commitment to democracy, is amenable to conduct business with the country, regardless of who is in the seat of power.

Conclusion

It is of the utmost importance for India to positively engage Naypyidaw and stave off attempts to exploit Myanmar by countries inimical to India’s growth. Any ambiguity or delay in India’s constructive engagement with Myanmar would only serve the interests of anti-India forces.

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