Synopsis: India has a deep security relationship with the Myanmar military. It is not in India’s interest to intervene in Myanmar’s politics.
Military rule has returned to Myanmar after a coup. Aung San Suu Kyi along with the political leadership has been detained by the Military.
Similar events took place in Myanmar 30 years ago. However, India’s reaction is going to be very different from its stand of 1989-90.
Why is India’s reaction going to be different this time?
India gave a statement of deep concern over the developments in Myanmar. However, its reaction is going to be different from the past because of the following reasons:
- Firstly, India’s security relationship with the Myanmar military has become extremely close. Myanmar military assists India in securing the North East borders from insurgent groups.
- In a recent visit to Myanmar, Indian counterparts met with both State Councillor Suu Kyi and Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. It signifies the equal importance of both for India.
- Secondly, the image of Ms. Suu Kyi as a democratic icon and Nobel peace laureate has been damaged. It is the result of her failure in stopping the Army’s pogrom against Rohingya. Moreover, she defended the Army’s action.
- Third, India has initiated numerous infrastructure and development projects with Myanmar. India sees this as the “gateway to the East” and ASEAN countries. For example, the India Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway and the Kaladan multi-modal transit transport network.
- Fifthly, India wants to resolve the issue of Rohingya refugees that fled to Bangladesh and some still live in India.
- Sixthly, there was a public uproar for India in 1990, to take a strong stand against Myanmar in the past. This is not the case in the present scenario.
India enjoyed a balanced relationship with both civil and military till now. But after this coup, India’s capacity to play both sides and maintain a relationship on both sides is now diminished.