India’s strategy for Myanmar

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: India and its Neighborhood- Relations.

Synopsis: India’s Policy towards Myanmar should be a balance of India’s interest and India’s norms.

Background

  • The recent military coup in Myanmar has once again created uncertainty regarding the future of Myanmar’s democracy.
  • The U. S and the west have reacted strongly. The US threatened Myanmar about sanctions.
  • Myanmar lies between two powerful states (India and China) competing for power and influence. Thus, Myanmar will always have geopolitical importance.
  • Given the high stakes in Myanmar, India needs to craft well-thought-out strategic choices regarding the situation.

What are the issues facing countries in supporting Aung San Suu Kyi?

  • The image of Aung San Suu Kyi declined globally due to her support towards the ill-treatment of Rohingyas. Yet, there is no other alternative for international communities other than Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar.
  • The increasing global support for Aung San Suu Kyi will diminish the possibilities for justice to the Rohingyas in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

How the coup will impact China?

The coup in Myanmar was more in the interest of the armed forces of Myanmar. However, it might affect China both negatively and positively.

  • In the short run, the Coup is against the Economic interests of other countries including India and China. Also, for China, the coup has destabilised its larger regional economic plans in Myanmar.
  • However, in the long run, Myanmar will be forced to seek China’s support if, the US imposes economic sanctions on Myanmar.
  • It is likely that China will be ready to offer them support in return for increasing the Chinese footprint in the country. This will make China the biggest beneficiary of the recent Military Coup in Myanmar.

What is the dilemma faced by India?

Till now, the existence of dual power centers in Myanmar suited India’s interest very well. However, the coup has put India in a dilemma on how to respond to the military coup in Myanmar.

  1. Myanmar’s military has been instrumental in controlling the insurgent groups in India’s northeast. They provided India with coordinated action and intelligence sharing.
  2. The issue of Rohingya Muslims is equally important. The military rule in Myanmar will offer support for increasing prosecution for Rohingyas. This could potentially lead to a rise of extremism within the community. This will be definitely against India’s interests in the longer run.
  3. If India’s national interest is given priority then, India would cooperate with Myanmar’s military. However, open support for the Military by India will lead to strong criticism by the West and especially America.
  4. On the other hand, India cannot actively oppose Myanmar’s military. Because Suu Kyi has also supported strong ties with China. It was Myanmar’s military that has been more supportive of India.

Recently, the Ministry of External Affairs has voiced its opinion for upholding the rule of law and the democratic process in Myanmar. However, considering the regional geopolitics India’s Myanmar policy will be based on interests rather than norms.

What is the way forward?

  • India must strive to push for political reconciliation in the country while maintaining relations with the government in power in Myanmar.
  • In the meantime, India needs to focus on improving trade, connectivity, and security links between the two sides.

Read more about India-Myanmar relations

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