Context:

The commander-in-chief of Myanmar defence forces, senior general Min Aung Hlaing, is currently on an eight-day visit to India.

Introduction:

He will visit numerous cities such as Gaya, Varanasi, Ahmedabad, and Vishakhapatnam and will meet several military and civilian leaders. Significance of visit to India:

His visit to India is part of the effort to diversify and strengthen defence cooperation between Myanmar and India. • India has scaled up its defence cooperation by selling artillery guns, naval boats, road-building and other defence-related equipment. • India has reportedly agreed to sell lightweight torpedoes as well.

Why Myanmar will be very reluctant to join hands with India against China?

• It should be noted that China is a dominant player in Myanmar’s economic and political landscape. • China is a leading investor in Myanmar, the largest trade partner and has been playing a proactive role in bringing various armed groups in Myanmar to negotiate with Suu Kyi’s government. • To ensure China’s continued cooperation on ethnic issues, Myanmar has signaled its interest in participating in China’s One Belt One Road initiative.

Why India – Myanmar relation is important?

Myanmar is critical for maintaining stability and peace in Northeast India. • Some Northeast Indian insurgent groups operate out of bases across the border. Therefore, responding to the groups mandates cooperation and consent of the Myanmar army. • In 2015, India conducted a cross-border strike on insurgent groups operating out of Myanmar. More than the strikes, the considerable publicity given by India generated disappointment in Myanmar. • The current visit is also an attempt to assuage above concerns and ensure continued cooperation between the two militaries on counter-insurgency issues. • In addition to security issues, Myanmar is a fast growing economy and is a land bridge to Southeast Asia is prompting Indian leaders to reach out to the country.

Challenges in India-Myanmar relations:

The main issue governing Indo-Myanmar relations in present time are North-East and the border, economic factors, the China factor and energy-security. • Issues of democracy and elections: There is a need to understand the role of the military, ethnic minorities, and that of the third force in Myanmar. • Cross border movement of drugs, Narcotics has been a contentious issue. • Movement of insurgents from Myanmar side of border has created tensions between 2 governments many times. • Myanmar has also witnessed anti-India and anti-China riots • 25 % of the government in Myanmar is comprised of the army. The structure of the government is a problem. Steps taken to boost India and Myanmar relations:

1. For regional connectivity between the two countries the government has ensured significant continuity from previous administration: 

It has issued fresh contracts to complete incomplete projects, proposed a Motor Vehicles Agreement(MVA), planned construction of nine border ‘haats’ and advanced plans for a full spectrum economic corridor. • The most important projects includes 3200 km India-Myanmar-Thailand(IMT) trilateral highway and Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport Project(KMMTTP). new balance roma viale dell’aeronautica • As of June 2017, the Sittwe deep sea port – a component of KMMTTP – stands ready to commence operations. • The crucial overland route between the Paletwa inland water terminal – another KMMTTP pivot – and Zorinpuri (Mizoram, India) stands successfully contracted. • There has also been renewed interest in two key regional groupings: Bangladesh India Myanmar Sri Lanka Thailand-Economic Corridor (BIMST-EC) and the Bangladesh China India Myanmar-Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC). • India is also placing more emphasis on the Sittwe Jetty project.

2. Multi-sectoral investments and development assistance:

Since 2014, New Delhi has made an attempt to proactively reach out to Naypyidaw. The core motivation for this revamped push is to consolidate Myanmar as a strategic bridge between India and Southeast Asia, and as a long-term partner in the Mekong sub-region and Bay of Bengal region. • In August 2016, it was announced that India would lay a 6900-km gas pipeline from Sittwe to its northeast via Bangladesh under the “Hydrocarbon Vision 2030” agenda. This is a concurrent response to China’s already-operational pipeline from Kyauk Phyu to Yunnan. • In the development assistance sector, India has extended direct assistance to Myanmar’s new civilian government to facilitate democratic transition, particularly in human resource development, training, and institutional capacity-building. • India has also offered humanitarian assistance worth US$ 1 million to Myanmar towards rehabilitation efforts in the strife-torn Rakhine State.

3. Defence and security:

The ‘security and defence’ component of the India-Myanmar bilateral is driven by two key factors: the volatile 1643 km-long land border; and China’s assertive power projection in the sub-region. • India accepted proposals for capacity-building and training programmes for its counterparts in Myanmar, including setting up of a meteorological facility.

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