Con­sul Gen­eral of In­dia speaks on In­dia-Myan­mar re­la­tions

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

Last week, In­dia cel­e­brated their 69th Repub­lic Day on 26 Jan­uary and hosted gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the ASEAN na­tions in New Delhi. In Man­dalay, Myan­mar, H.E. Nan­dan Singh Bhaisora, the In­dian Con­sul Gen­eral spoke to a gath­er­ing of dig­ni­taries about the re­la­tions and ties be­tween In­dia and Myan­mar.

The fol­low­ing is his speech:

“It is in­deed an hon­our and priv­i­lege for me to ad­dress this distin­guished gath­er­ing. May I ex­tend, on be­half of the In­dian Con­sulate a very warm wel­come to all of you; thank you for join­ing us this evening to mark the 69th Repub­lic Day of In­dia.

Sixty nine years ago, on this day, In­dia adopted the Con­sti­tu­tion which laid the foun­da­tion of the big­gest democ­racy of the world and to­day it is the largest prac­tic­ing democ­racy in the world. Con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia is also the most ex­haus­tive doc­u­ment of its kind in the world which en­vis­ages a par­lia­men­tary form of democ­racy, fed­eral in char­ac­ter. On this day, the In­dian peo­ple gave to them­selves a Con­sti­tu­tion to se­cure for all its cit­i­zens, jus­tice, lib­erty equal­ity and gen­der and eco­nomic eq­uity. De­spite a num­ber of so­cial and po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges that In­dia has been fac­ing dur­ing all these years, it has made its own mark in al­most ev­ery field.

Our coun­try has lots of di­ver­si­ties and with so much di­ver­sity, it would not have been easy to achieve this progress. Credit goes to our na­tional lead­ers who clearly un­der­stood and up­held from the very be­gin­ning In­dia’s core stand of unity in di­ver­sity. Our com­pos­ite cul­ture has made In­dia truly a demo­cratic coun­try where unity thrives in di­ver­sity. To­day also re­minds us to stand united to face the chal­lenges and to keep the in­tegrity and dig­nity of our coun­try high.

In­dia and Myan­mar share close geo­graphic prox­im­ity and deep his­toric, cul­tural, re­li­gious, lin­guis­tic, eth­nic and civ­i­liza­tional ties that go back to the dawn of his­tory. Traces of In­dian in­flu­ence – both Hin­duism and Bud­dhism can be seen here; Em­peror Ashoka is cred­ited with the es­tab­lish­ment of nu­mer­ous pago­das and tem­ples all over Myan­mar. As the land of Lord Bud­dha, In­dia is a coun­try of pil­grim­age for Myan­mar. There is a deep sense of kin­ship par­tic­u­larly among the Bud­dhist com­mu­nity, given In­dia’s as­so­ci­a­tion with Bud­dha’s life. In the present day, we have seen close ties hav­ing been es­tab­lished be­tween our first gen­er­a­tion of na­tional lead­ers from U Ut­tama to Gen Aung San and Prime Min­is­ter U Nu from Myan­mar and Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawa­har­lal Nehru from In­dia.

Ex­cel­lency we have trav­elled a long way in our bi­lat­eral part­ner­ship. Our bi­lat­eral re­la­tions are warm, cor­dial and multi-di­men­sional – be it in the field of trade & com­merce, de­fence, se­cu­rity, cul­ture, con­sular, de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion, hu­man re­source, hy­dro­car­bon etc. The bi­lat­eral re­la­tions have been fur­ther strength­ened by the reg­u­lar ex­change of vis­its within the last five/six years, at the high­est level. Tonight while we are cel­e­brat­ing our Na­tional Day here, Heads of all the ASEAN states in­clud­ing the State Coun­sel­lor Madam Aung San Suu Kyi are the Chief Guests in Repub­lic Day func­tion in New Delhi while they are there in con­nec­tion with Asean-In­dia Com­mem­o­ra­tive Sum­mit. Both the lead­ers had dis­cus­sions on Wed­nes­day on var­i­ous is­sues of mu­tual in­ter­est, in­clud­ing fol­low up on key de­ci­sions taken dur­ing his visit last year.

The visit of our Prime Min­is­ter Shri Naren­dra Modi last month has taken our bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship to much greater heights. Lead­ers of both the coun­tries have re­viewed the on­go­ing of­fi­cial ex­changes, eco­nomic, trade and cul­tural ties as well as peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes ; they also reaf­firmed their com­mon as­pi­ra­tions for peace, col­lec­tive pros­per­ity and de­vel­op­ment of the re­gion and beyond. Our Prime Min­is­ter also ap­pre­ci­ated the mea­sures taken by the Govt of Myan­mar to­wards peace and na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and com­mended the on-go­ing peace

The visit of our Prime Min­is­ter Shri Naren­dra Modi last month has taken our bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship to much greater heights.

process. We stand fully com­mit­ted to sup­port the Myan­mar Gov­ern­ment in its on­go­ing na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion & peace process un­der the 21st Cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence. With­out peace & sta­bil­ity, de­vel­op­ment can­not take place. We greatly wel­come the tran­si­tion tak­ing place in Myan­mar within the democ­rac­tic and plu­ral­is­tic frame work.

A num­ber of MOUs/Agree­ments have been signed dur­ing his visit in the field of health, ed­u­ca­tion etc which in­clude Mar­itime Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion, Cul­tural Ex­change Pro­gramme, En­hanc­ing co­op­er­a­tion of the Upgra­da­tion of the Women’s Po­lice Train­ing Cen­tre in Man­dalay Re­gion, Ex­ten­sion of MOU on the es­tab­lish­ment of MIIT in Man­dalay Re­gion, agree­ments be­tween Elec­tion Com­mis­sion and Press Coun­cils of both the coun­tries etc.

To­day In­dia is one of the fastest grow­ing ma­jor economies in the world. In the last 3 years our Gov­ern­ment has un­der­taken a num­ber of ini­tia­tives and in­tro­duced a se­ries of re­forms to im­prove the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment in In­dia. Most re­cently, In­dia has launched the GST (Goods & Ser­vices Tax), the big­gest tax re­form since our in­de­pen­dence. These steps have opened new op­por­tu­ni­ties for trade & in­vest­ment into In­dia. The string of these eco­nomic re­forms have fetched $ 60 bil­lion For­eign Di­rect In­vest­ment in 2016-17. Com­pa­nies from Myan­mar can also take ad­van­tage of these op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­vest­ment in In­dia – par­tic­u­larly North East In­dia. To­day In­dia is chang­ing; In­dia is trans­form­ing; In­dia has moved far ahead and In­dian hopes are at the top; change can be seen in ev­ery sphere. In World Bank’s Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness Re­port, 2018, there is a sig­nif­i­cant jump in In­dia’s rank­ing from 130 to 100; which is the out­come of all round and multi-sec­toral re­form push of Team In­dia. It has never been eas­ier to do busi­ness in In­dia.

On the other hand, the new wave of po­lit­i­cal/eco­nomic re­forms have set Myan­mar on a road to un­prece­dented eco­nomic ex­pan­sion. The open­ing of the coun­try to global mar­ket is strength­en­ing com­mer­cial re­la­tions. There has been a sig­nif­i­cant growth in our eco­nomic and com­mer­cial ties. The bi­lat­eral trade be­tween In­dia and Myan­mar has crossed USD 2.178 Bil­lion dur­ing 2016-17, border trade has crossed USD 75 (76.41) Mil­lion dol­lar (2016-17). To­tal trade for first nine months this year is $ 958 mil­lion and border trade US $ 55 mil­lion. In­dia is presently 10th largest in­vestor with an in­vest­ment of more than USD 740.64 mil­lion by 25 In­dian com­pa­nies, mainly in oil & gas sec­tor. Myan­mar is an in­te­gral part­ner in In­dia’s en­ergy re­la­tions with other coun­tries. Co­op­er­a­tion in bank­ing sec­tor has played a large role in the growth of trade & in­vest­ment be­tween two coun­tries.

Myan­mar has a strate­gic lo­ca­tion, abun­dant nat­u­ral re­sources, large num­ber of hu­man re­source- young pop­u­la­tion and it is the only ASEAN coun­try that shares land bound­ary with In­dia. It is suit­ably placed to de­velop mar­ket link­ages with In­dia par­tic­u­larly its north-east­ern re­gions. Myan­mar is In­dia’s gate­way to ASEAN/ BIMSTEC and key to New Delhi’s Act East Pol­icy. In­dia seeks to be a good neigh­bour of Myan­mar as part of our Prime Min­is­ter Modi’s “Neigh­bour­hood First” pol­icy- con­nect­ing with vast un­tapped mar­ket of ASEAN coun­tries, where Myan­mar has a key role to play in our “Act East Pol­icy”. Sim­i­larly, In­dia is Myan­mar’s win­dow to the Western world. Our Prime Min­is­ter has been lay­ing spe­cial em­pha­sis on en­gag­ing and de­vel­op­ing North East states to im­prove upon in­fra­struc­ture and hu­man re­sources of the re­gion in a bit to con­nect with the rest of the ASEAN coun­tries. In­dia is the fastest grow­ing ma­jor econ­omy with GDP growth of 7 % in 2015-16. Myan­mar has a pos­i­tive outlook for fu­ture and is likely to grow by 6.8% this year.

In­dia is strongly com­mit­ted to meet­ing Myan­mar’s de­vel­op­men­tal needs through de­vel­op­ment projects, in­clud­ing pro­vi­sion of ex­per­tise, grants in aid; tech­ni­cal and fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance for projects in in­fra­struc­ture, ca­pac­ity build­ing, train­ing of de­fence of­fi­cers, emer­gency relief, set­ting up in­sti­tutes like MIIT, ITCs; some of the on­go­ing in­fras­truc­tural/ con­nec­tivey projects are Kal­adan Multi Modal Tran­sit Trans­port Project, Tri­lat­eral High­way Project, Ren­o­va­tion of 69 Bridges in Tamu- Kalewa Road, Upgra­da­tion of Kalewa-Yar­gyi Road, Sittway Port etc. Six gen­eral cargo ves­sels of the ca­pac­ity of 300 tons were handed over to Myan­mar in June 17 cost­ing 10.5 bil­lion ky­ats. In­dia has also pledged US $ 25 Mil­lion for de­vel­op­ment of Rakhine for so­cio eco­nomic up­lift­ment of the peo­ple; relief sup­plies have also been sent there. Num­ber of ICCR schol­ar­ships for studemts and ITEC slots are be­ing given . GOI is work­ing for restora­tion of the Ananda tem­ple in Ba­gan.

In­dia shares a border of more than 1600 Km with Myan­mar. A large num­ber of In­dian com­mu­nity from North East­ern Re­gion is in Myan­mar. Peo­ple to peo­ple con­tacts need to be fos­tered to keep alive our com­mon Bud­dhist her­itage and also fa­cil­i­tate move­ment of peo­ple across land bor­ders of two coun­tries. There is lot of ac­tiv­ity and lot of ex­change of vis­its tak­ing place on both sides of the border in­clud­ing the on­go­ing visit of Ma­nipur foot­ball Team, in­ter­ac­tion be­tween busi­ness & me­dia del­e­ga­tions of both coun­tries, border trade, tourism in­clud­ing med­i­cal tourism; dance troupes- cul­tural . We need to make it sim­pler for the peo­ple to cross the border via land route. So Keep­ing in view this, as per me­dia re­ports, In­dian Cab­i­net, on 3rd Jan­uary has ap­proved an agree­ment to fa­cil­i­tate border cross­ing be­tween In­dia and Myan­mar on the ba­sis of valid pass­ports and visas which will en­hance eco­nomic and so­cial in­ter­ac­tion, boost trade, tourism, peo­ple to peo­ple ties. Thus we, on our side, re­main fully com­mit­ted to givng our best for this re­la­tion­ship.”

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