In­dia-myan­mar Re­la­tions: Ef­fect of Suu Kyi’s Visit ...............................................

Ef­fect of Suu Kyi’s Visit

Libertatem Magazine - - Content - By Pra­teek Mago

The Repub­lic of In­dia and the Repub­lic of the Union of Myan­mar are not just neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, in fact, th­ese two sov­er­eign na­tions have a lot to share amongst them­selves, from eth­nic­ity to his­tory, from re­li­gious ties to cul­tural ties. The most re­mark­able in­ci­dent that glo­ri­fied the for­eign re­la­tions be­tween th­ese two sov­er­eign en­ti­ties was the sign­ing of the Treaty of Friend­ship in 1951. Af­ter this, an­other most sig­nif­i­cant step which strength­ened the bond be­tween th­ese two na­tions was the visit of the then Prime Min­is­ter Ra­jiv Gandhi in 1987.

Myan­mar acts as a very sig­nif­i­cant en­tity for In­dia, both in terms of eco­nomic and strate­gic con­text. There have been a lot of vis­its by sev­eral min­is­ters from both th­ese coun­tries, and it has now be­come a usual af­fair. Nu­mer­ous del­e­ga­tion level talks have been held to as­sist each other’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. This has re­sulted in a num­ber of In­dian funded projects in Myan­mar. In­dia and Myan­mar have al­ways be­lieved in the con­cept of de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion, and hence, In­dia has been a tremen­dous source for Myan­mar in terms of tech­ni­cal & fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance for a high num­ber of projects, for ex­am­ple, Ad­vanced Cen­tre for Agri­cul­tural Re­search and Ed­u­ca­tion, Myan­mar In­sti­tute of In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy, Rice Bio Park at Yezin Agri­cul­ture Univer­sity, build­ing of 71 bridges on Tamu-kalewa-kale­myo Road, etc.

Apart from tech­ni­cally and fi­nan­cially as­sist­ing Myan­mar, In­dia has also made tremen­dous ef­forts in up­grad­ing the cul­tural her­itage in Myan­mar. There have been a lot of cul­tural ini­tia­tives taken by In­dia in Myan­mar, rang­ing from or­gan­is­ing Bharat­natyam & Yoga ses­sions to or­gan­is­ing the In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence on Bud­dhist Cul­tural Her­itage. From the side of Myan­mar, there was one ex­change held in 2009 wherein it sent a 13 mem­ber stu­dent del­e­ga­tion to In­dia to at­tend the SAARC Cul­tural Fes­ti­val.

On a strate­gic note, Myan­mar plays a very vi­tal for In­dia as it is the only ASEAN nation which shares its bor­ders with In­dia. It is a very con­crete link be­tween ASEAN and In­dia. For In­dia to re­al­ize and im­ple­ment its ‘Look East pol­icy’, the im­pe­tus that is re­quired to do this is Myan­mar, hence, the re­la­tions be­tween th­ese two need to be as cor­dial as pos­si­ble.

For In­dia to be­come a prom­i­nent global player, it needs to

main­tain its hege­mony in the Asian re­gion, and that be­comes more im­por­tant be­cause of the com­pe­ti­tion that the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China gives. It is sup­posed to strengthen and de­velop its poli­cies in such a re­gard that they all, in a con­sol­i­dated man­ner, help In­dia to evolve do­mes­ti­cally. The pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments in In­dia have put in mar­vel­lous ef­forts to make the re­la­tions be­tween In­dia and Myan­mar stronger. It is now the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the present gov­ern­ment to con­tinue the legacy that was set up by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments in this re­gard. A more proac­tive and a prag­matic ap­proach is nec­es­sary in or­der to sus­tain the power in the re­gion, as the road to be­come an im­por­tant global player is full of im­ped­i­ments. And for­tu­nately, the present gov­ern­ment seems to do just fine in this re­gard.

This as­ser­tion be­comes more sub­stan­tive with the re­cent visit of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myan­mar’s first demo­crat­i­cally elected leader in about 50 years, to New Delhi. Even though she is not the for­mal head of the state or the gov­ern­ment, her visit to In­dia was still con­sid­ered to be one of the ‘sov­er­eign state vis­its’. This is ev­i­dent be­cause of her sub­se­quent meet­ings with the Pres­i­dent of In­dia Mr. Pranab Mukher­jee, the Prime Min­is­ter of In­dia Mr. Naren­dra Modi, and the Min­is­ter of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Ms. Sushma Swaraj.

Suu Kyi has a very close con­nec­tion to In­dia be­cause of sev­eral rea­sons. For ex­am­ple, her fa­ther, Gen­eral Aung San and In­dia’s first Prime Min­is­ter, Jawa­har­lal Nehru, used to be very close. Also, she has spent her ini­tial years in In­dia dur­ing 1960s, as her mother used to serve as the Burmese Am­bas­sador to the Repub­lic of In­dia, back then.

But as they say, a coin has two sides. Sim­i­larly, the cor­dial re­la­tions that th­ese two na­tions share are some­times at stake be­cause of cer­tain in­ci­dents that oc­cur. And one par­tic­u­lar in­ci­dent which is most likely to ham­per the re­la­tions be­tween th­ese two na­tions is the Ro­hingya refugee cri­sis. Out of around 1.5 mil­lion Ro­hingyas who are na­tive to Myan­mar, more than half have al­ready been dis­placed be­cause of sev­eral fac­tors, most of them have mi­grated to the neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, and al­most rest of the lot has no or very limited ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tional, work and health fa­cil­i­ties. Hav­ing said that, In­dia is one of those few neigh­bour­ing coun­tries of Myan­mar which had to take in a huge in­flux of Ro­hingya refugees, and as per the present sit­u­a­tion, it might have to take in more such refugees.

The whole cri­sis of Ro­hingya refugees also be­comes im­por­tant be­cause of an­other prom­i­nent rea­son. It is that one sit­u­a­tion which has com­pelled the ASEAN or­gan­i­sa­tion to dis­cuss a par­tic­u­lar mem­ber nation’s in­ter­nal po­lit­i­cal mat­ter. This was done be­cause the in­flux of Ro­hingya refugees was cre­at­ing a huge bur­den on the re­sources, trade, op­por­tu­ni­ties, etc. of the neigh­bour­ing coun­tries in which the refugees were ac­tu­ally tak­ing shel­ter. So even­tu­ally, this is­sue started gain­ing re­gional im­por­tance, and hence, it was nec­es­sary to dis­cuss this at an ap­pro­pri­ate re­gional plat­form.

This cri­sis has a lot to do with the new leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She has shown very lit­tle ded­i­ca­tion and en­thu­si­asm to­wards solv­ing this cur­rent cri­sis. The sta­tus quo clearly in­di­cates to­wards vi­o­lence and re­gional mi­gra­tion cri­sis. This be­comes im­por­tant for Suu Kyi be­cause it is now her re­spon­si­bil­ity, as the supreme leader, to open Myan­mar be­fore the world, es­pe­cially af­ter half a cen­tury of mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship in the coun­try. She sim­ply can­not af­ford to have a mi­gra­tion cri­sis in her coun­try at this point of time, es­pe­cially at a time when the West is look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties to un­fold hu­man­i­tar­ian dis­as­ters.

That is why, this visit to In­dia is a very sig­nif­i­cant step to­wards strength­en­ing the re­la­tions be­tween the two na­tions. It has also given a chance to In­dia to play a vi­tal role in Myan­mar’s nation build­ing and demo­cratic evo­lu­tion. It be­comes more ev­i­dent by the depart­ing words of Suu Kyi dur­ing her re­cent visit, wherein she thanked In­dia for help­ing the Repub­lic of the Union of Myan­mar “make up for lost time”. It is def­i­nitely be­lieved that our Prime Min­is­ter and Pres­i­dent will also be vis­it­ing Myan­mar in lieu of build­ing strong re­la­tion­ships, which will safe­guard the in­ter­est of both th­ese na­tions.

Till then, all that can be ex­pected from Suu Kyi is that she works & strives hard to earn the No­bel Peace Prize for the sec­ond time. It is her who has the power to bring about a change in Myan­mar’s geopo­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions and im­prov­ing the lives of its cit­i­zens, es­pe­cially the Ro­hingyaas.

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