Title : INDIA - MYANMAR RELATIONS
Date : Feb 02, 2022
Based on a News Article published in the ‘The Hindu’
Useful for UPSC CSE Prelims and Mains (GS Paper II)
Geographical proximity between India and Myanmar:
- Myanmar and India have a nearly 1600 km long land border as well as a lengthy marine boundary.
- Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh are among the Indian states affected.
- Apart from their topographical affinity, the two are ethnically, religiously, and linguistically similar.
- There have been numerous highs and lows in the ties between the two neighbours.
India's and Myanmar's Historical Background:
- Due to the advent of Buddhism into the region throughout ancient times, India and Burma have deep cultural ties.
- During the colonial period, as India and Myanmar both faced imperialism, these links grew even stronger.
- During the Aung San Suu Kyi-led freedom struggle, Indian leaders maintained close ties with the country.
- After Myanmar attained independence in 1948, India maintained diplomatic relations with the country.
- The relationship worsened after Myanmar's military coup in 1962, when India opposed the military coup.
- This was also the time when Myanmar became part of the Chinese empire.
- Myanmar's relations with India deteriorated further in the late 1980s, when pro-democracy protests were crushed by the military government, resulting in a large influx of Burmese refugees into India.
- Indo-Myanmar relations, on the other hand, took a turn in the 1990s when India proposed the Look East Policy, with Myanmar playing a crucial role in India's foreign policy.
- Indo-Myanmar ties are on a more solid footing now that Myanmar has an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
- After Thailand, China, and Singapore, India is Burma's fourth major trading partner.
- After Thailand, India is the second-largest export market for Burmese goods.
- India is also Burma's seventh-largest supplier of imports.
- In 2017-18, bilateral commerce was estimated to be worth $1.6 billion.
- The agricultural sector dominates bilateral trade, which consists primarily of imports of pulses and beans to India.
- In addition, India is Myanmar's ninth largest investor.
- India has a major stake in Myanmar's oil and gas industry.
- In 2018-19, India's pharmaceutical exports, which have a strong reputation in Myanmar, totaled US$ 199.67 million, accounting for nearly 40% of the market share in Myanmar.
- India and Myanmar have agreed to collaborate to introduce India's RuPay Card in Myanmar as soon as possible and to investigate the construction of a digital payment gateway.
Connectivity and infrastructure development:
- The Indo-Myanmar Friendship Road was built by BRO in 2001 to improve connection between the two countries.
- The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, which connects Guwahati in India with Mandalay and Yangoon in Myanmar before ending in Thailand, is also under construction.
- The Kaladan multi-modal Highway, which connects Kolkata with Sittwe through sea and Sittwe with Myanmar via the Kaladan river, is another ongoing connectivity project that will reduce transit time and costs.
- These projects will aid in the expansion of bilateral trade between the two nations.
Aid by India to Developmental works in Myanmar:
- Myanmar has received $1.7 billion in aid and loans from India for infrastructure development, including schools and health care facilities. This is an excellent tool for gentle power exercises.
Assistance in the event of a disaster:
- Apart from monetary assistance in rehabilitation and reconstruction, India has also aided Myanmar in humanitarian relief operations during natural disasters such as Cyclone Mora (2017) and Komen (2015).
- India has pledged to assist Myanmar with disaster risk mitigation capacity building and the improvement of Myanmar's National Disaster Response Mechanism.
Cooperation in the Art & other cultural fields:
- India has strengthened its cultural connections with Myanmar by contributing in the renovation of Bagan's Anand temple.
- This earns India a lot of goodwill.
- In Mandalay Jail, a bust of Bal Gangadhar Tilak is a figurative act for a closer relationship and shared respect.
Cooperation in the defence sector:
- Myanmar is also receiving assistance from India in terms of military development.
- India has provided Myanmar with rocket launchers, night vision devices, radar, and technical equipment.
- In 2017, the two neighbours held joint Army exercises called IMBAX, and they have been conducting coordinated maritime patrols since 2013. Myanmar has also assured India that it will not allow its territory to be used for anti-India operations.
- A supply of 3,000 vials of the antiviral Remdesivir was delivered to Myanmar as part of India's medical or drug diplomacy to aid Myanmar's fight against the pandemic.
- When Covid -19 vaccines become available, India has expressed a desire to prioritise Myanmar in providing them.
- India has offered to provide "Bhabhatron-2" medical radiation equipment for the treatment of cancer patients.
Collaboration in the Energy Sector:
- India proposed building a petroleum refinery in the Thanlyn district near Yangon to ensure energy security. It would cost around $ 6 billion to complete.
- Myanmar receives power from India via Moreh in Manipur.
- India also sends electricity to Myanmar through Moreh in Manipur.
Mechanisms of various institutions:
- Apart from bilateral interactions, India and Myanmar participate in multilateral organisations such as ASEAN, BIMSTEC, and others. Myanmar has also become a member of SASEC.
- On the Rohingya issue, India demonstrated diplomatic finesse by voting against Myanmar during the Bali declaration and condemning the ARSA-led terrorist attacks in Rakhine province.
"What makes India and Myanmar so important to each other?"
- Myanmar is the sole ASEAN member that shares its borders with India, providing a chance to strengthen ties with other Southeast Asian countries as part of the design East and Act East initiatives.
- Cooperation in the Region:
- Myanmar could play a crucial role in India's efforts to connect South Asia and South-East Asia through BIMSTEC, which brings together 21% of the world's population and has a combined GDP of about $2.5 trillion.
- BIMSTEC also provides an alternative to SAARC, which has been hampered by tensions between India and Pakistan.
- Controlling insurgency in the North-Eastern states requires close cooperation with Myanmar.
- Furthermore, the permeable borders provide fertile ground for gangland activities such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, and arms and ammunition smuggling.
- These are frequently checked only via joint efforts between India and Myanmar.
- Myanmar has huge oil and natural gas reserves. Myanmar is significant to India since it imports roughly 80% of its fuel.
- Myanmar has the potential to be a key energy partner because future offshore gas discoveries can be routed to India. India currently has a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Oil and Gas, as well as a Joint Strategic Committee (JSC) and Joint Working Group (JWG) on Power Cooperation.
- Food safety is important.
- The import of pulses and beans from Myanmar is critical to India's food security.
- To offset China's growing dominance in the area, India needs to strengthen its footprint in Myanmar. As a result, Myanmar is strategically important to India.
India Myanmar's Relationship Issues:
- Bilateral trade between the two countries is still well below its potential.
- One of the main reasons for this is that infrastructure projects are frequently moved at snail's speed. India's project implementation capacity, in particular, is woeful.
- To improve price realisation for Indian farmers, India implemented import restrictions on pulses. The Myanmar government was not pleased with this ruling because it affected Myanmar's exports to India.
- Influx of Rohingya Muslims Nearly 40,000 Rohingya Muslims have sought asylum in India to escape religious persecution in Myanmar, where they have been denied citizenship.
- However, India is under severe financial strain as a result of the influx of migrants, and it also confronts a security danger from radicalised Rohingya youngsters.
- As a result, India is pushing for the repatriation of Myanmarese refugees.
- The conflict in Rakhine state lies at the heart of several current connection projects between India and Myanmar, such as the Kaladan Multi-modal highway.
- The region's conflict has hampered the progress of such projects. This isn't promising for bilateral trade.
- Factor of China:
- Growing Chinese Presence Myanmar opted to join the Belt and Road Initiative as a neighbourhood and has accepted Chinese investment in a variety of infrastructure projects, including port developments such as Kyaukpyu.
- This has alarmed India, as a rising Chinese presence in the country's neighbourhood raises strategic worries.
- India and Myanmar share a number of mutual interests, including socioeconomic development, environmental and climatic problems, insurgency and regional peace, and retaining sovereignty in the face of growing Chinese aggressiveness.
- There is a lot of room for collaboration here. India should take advantage of this opportunity to speed up work on ongoing projects while also exercising soft power through constructive aid and cultural exchange.
- While India and Myanmar have trade relations in many areas, following COVID-19, they will be able to expand their trade relations in areas like pharmaceuticals, healthcare, transportation, food processing, steel, renewable energy, communication, education, and others, which will help both countries revive and generate jobs.
- Given the country's subpar record in terms of trade and investment, there is enormous opportunity and expectation for growth.
What is in the news recently:
- Myanmar's military just took control of the Southeast Asian country in a coup for the third time since the country gained independence from British domination in 1948.
IMPACT ON INDIA'S FOREIGN POLICY: INDIA'S RESPONSE:
- India expressed its displeasure and stated that the rule of law and democratic process must be respected.
Tags : saarc countries, burma, foreign policy