Myanmar is one of India’s strategic neighbor and shares 1640 km long border with north-eastern states of Nagaland and Manipur.  India has “historical ties and traditional bonds of friendship and cooperation” with Myanmar Three B’s are the base of India-Myanmar relations – Buddhism, Business and Burma teak.

India attaches its partnership with Myanmar in accordance with its ‘Neighborhood First’ and ‘Act East’ policies. 

Historical Overview

In 1951, India and Burma signed treaty of friendship and relations guided by Panchsheel. Throughout 1950, bilateral affairs remained stable partly because of common interest within NAM and Partly because of JL Nehru and Mr. U Nu friendship:

The military coup in Burma changed the nature of political and economic relation. The 1990 brought new orientation in India’s Foreign Policy. The new policy of constructive engagement led to Common Border Trade Agreement 1994 and gradual improvement of bilateral relationship.

  • In 1995, India and Myanmar ever conducted a joint military cooperation against ethnic guerrilla groups.
  • Myanmar prospect was further enhanced during Gujral, “Good neighborhood” Policy.
  • A.B Vajpayee brought real shift for instance, military to military contact and economic ties.
  • May 2012 – India’s PM visit to Myanmar was regarded as “historic milestone.

Myanmar under Act East policy of India:

  • Myanmar is gateway to Act East policy of India.
  • India increased cooperation with Myanmar under revamped BIMSTEC, ASEAN and Mekong-Ganga Cooperation.
  • India extends zero percent duty to 98% of Myanmar products to access India markets.
  • India brought paradigm shift by undertaking Development Projects in Myanmar
  • India figuring out cooperation on cultural dimension specially Buddhism by extending Buddhist Circuit tourism initiative to Myanmar.

Military seizes power in Myanmar coup [2021]

  • The military is now back in charge and has declared a year-long state of emergency.
  • It seized control following a general election which Ms. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide.
  • The armed forces had backed the opposition, who were demanding a recounting of the vote, claiming widespread fraud.
  • They declared a state of emergency for a year and took power in their hands.
  • The election commission said there was no evidence to support these claims. The coup was staged as a new session of parliament was set to open.
  • Ms. Suu Kyi is thought to be under house arrest. Myanmar, which started a fragile transition to democracy 10 years ago after decades of brutal military dictatorship, is back in the hands of the Generals.

India concern over military coup in Myanmar:

  • The coup has significantly undermined India’s economic and security interests in Southeast Asia.
  • The multi-dimensional civil war in Myanmar has impacted the progress of India’s economic and logistics projects in Myanmar. Ex- India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway and the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project.
  • This has thwarted the civilian government’s effort to consolidate power and weakened its capacity to support India’s counterinsurgency efforts against Indian Ethnic Armed Organizations operating from Myanmar.
  • As it has lost ground in India’s borderlands, Myanmar’s army has instead sought assistance from Indian Ethnic Armed Organisations. These groups, which New Delhi sees as a major national security threat, have partnered with the military junta to attack pro-democratic PDFs and EAOs in the border areas of Myanmar and India. 
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