[Editorial Analysis] India-Myanmar Bilateral Ties and Cooperation

Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level: India-Myanmar Bilateral Ties and Cooperation
Mains level: India and its neighbourhood relations

Context:

• Recently delegation of Chief of Army Staff general Naravane and Foreign Secretary Harsh V. Shringhla paid a visit to Myanmar. This unique combination highlights the importance of Indo-Myanmar ties.

Importance of Myanmar:

• Neighbourhood First: India has formally given focus to its neighbours through this policy and Myanmar forms a key component of it. It forms an important component of BIMSTEC too. India has done some 140+ projects in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.

• Act East Policy: Another pillar of India’s Foreign Policy has been the Act East Policy and Myanmar forms the bridge to ASEAN nations for India and hence is crucial. Hence connectivity projects have seen a push. Projects like Kaladan Multimodel project, development of Sittwe Port, IMT (India – Myanmar- Thailand) Highway are some of the flagship projects.

• Development of North East: Due to historical, cultural and geographic ties that Myanmar has with the North East, the country holds a crucial place in development plans for North East. India’s 4 states Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram share a geographical border with Myanmar.

• Defence Ties: Militant groups operating at both sides of the border pose a threat to the peace in both countries (NSCN – Khaplang of India and Arakan Insurgency Group of Myanmar both have cross border operations). Hence Joint Anti Insurgency Operation like Operation Sunrise. The Bilateral Military exercise IMBAX has been happening regularly. Myanmar also a huge market for India’s defence exports.

• Marine Security and Coastal Connectivity: Myanmar is an important partner for peace in the Indian Ocean. India recently transferred kilo-class attack submarine to Myanmar Navy. Coastal Shipping agreement has the potential to boost trade.

Challenges in the relationship:

• China exerts heavy influence in Myanmar. Till the 1980s when India did not maintain relationships with authoritarian military regime of Myanmar, China extended all support to the nation and since has grown as a key partner of Myanmar. China’s deep pocket too makes it difficult for India.

• India-Myanmar border is exploited by drugs and arms trafficking, terrorist outfits and insurgent groups. Being part of the Golden Triangle of Drug Trade. Even the Rohingya issue remains a point of contention.

• Bilateral trade is not upto expectations. With trade numbers at just 2$ billion dollar the scope is huge. But challenges remain.

• Wildlife Trade: The border is one of the hotbeds for illegal wildlife trade.

• Military Control still exists in Myanmar Though democratic government exists but military
continues huge role in decision making of Myanmar.

• Poor Implementation by India Infrastructure promises by India have been mostly delayed.

Conclusion:

• India-Myanmar has seen ‘Hyper Activity’ in diplomatic terms since past few years. The need is to expand the economic relations between the two nations. Strategic and Military relationship is next.

• The two countries have the potential to carry forward peace and growth in South Asia.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020, consider the following statements:

1. The bill amends the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to include protections for health care service personnel combating epidemic diseases and expands the powers of the Central Government to prevent the spread of such diseases.

2. It has provisions of imprisonment from three months to five years and a fine between 50 thousand rupees to two lakh rupees.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Why is Myanmar important to India? What are the major challenges to their relationship?

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