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India and World – Myanmar
- India Myanmar agree to resolve border issues and step up energy and trade links
- India sought to consolidate its ties with Myanmar by offering an additional $500 million line of credit
- Both sides agreed to
- Examine the feasibility of establishing railway links
- Accelerate work on two hydel projects in Myanmar
- Reviewed progress on a route into the North-East which would supplement India’s sole link to that park of the country via the Siliguri Corridor
Editorial: August 2
There has been a shift in India’s stand towards Myanmar. In the 1990s India was more concerned with the military rule and the detention of pro-democracy leader Aang San Suu Kyi. The recent visit (July 2010) to India of Myanmar’s Senior General Than Shwe marks this shift.
A number of key agreements were signed during this visit relating mainly to security, oil exploration and trade promotion.
Sittwe port: Link from Kolkata to Sittwe port then through Kaladan river to Mizoram.
India Myanmar Friendship Road: 2001
- ONGC GAIL have presence there
- Ananda temple
Mizoram Myanmar road link
Concern of China’s presence in Myanmar.
Bilateral relations between Burma (officially the Union of Myanmar) and the Republic of India have improved considerably since 1993, overcoming strains over drug trafficking, the suppression of democracy and the rule of the military junta in Burma. Burma is situated to the south of the states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India. The proximity of the People’s Republic of China give strategic importance to Indo-Burmese relations. The Indo-Burmese border stretches over 1,600 kilometers.
However, since 1993 the governments of the Indian Prime Ministers P.V. Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee changed course and began cultivating ties with Myanmar, as part of a wider foreign policy approach aimed to increase India’s participation and influence in Southeast Asia and to counteract the growing influence of the People’s Republic of China.
Trade:USD 1.2 billion in 2009—10.The trade turnover had shot up 2009—10, doubling just in two years. India is the fourth largest trading partner of Myanmar after Thailand, Singapore and China.
India is also the thirteenth largest investor with an investment estimated at USD 189 million in five projects.Indian investment ranges from oil and gas sector to hydroelectric power, railways, electric power among others.
However China is the biggest investor in Myanmar with investments totalling to about USD 9.6 billion.
Access to NE
It is not so well known that Myanmarese ports provide India the shortest approach route to several of India’s north-eastern states.
Kaladan:India and Myanmar have quietly finalised the $100-million Kaladan multi-modal link project, which will provide much-needed transit access between the north-eastern states and the rest of the country. Estimated at a cost of IC (Indian Currency) 545 crore the project proposes 826 km route by sea, river and road from Kolkata to Mizoram. The highest distance of 539 km will be covered from Kolkata port in India to Sittwe port in Myanmar encircling the coastal line of Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal. The proposed sea route is then connected with the riverine channel through river Kaladan up to 158 km in the upstream before being linked to a land route that stretches about 129 km through the mountainous terrain in the Chin State of Myanmar before finally reaching Mizoram in India.
two closest Indian and Myanmarese islands are barely 30 km apart.
Insurgencies & Drug Trafficking
common fight against the insurgencies raging in the border areas of both the countries. Indian insurgent groups (NSCN, ULFA and the Manipur rebels among others) have been operating out of bases in the weakly controlled areas across the borders of the Indian states of Manipur and Mizoram and Myanmarese rebels, primarily the Chins and the Arakanese, have often taken shelter on the Indian side. ndia-Myanmar cooperation is also essential to control narcotics trafficking and to curb the proliferation of small arms in the region
China:China has made rapid advances into Myanmar and established close political, military and economic relations. Myanmar provides China the shortest land route access to the northern Indian Ocean.
China has signed a long-term agreement with Myanmar for the exploitation of its hydrocarbon reserves and for the transportation of oil and gas through a 1,100 km overland pipeline from Kyaukryu port in Myanmar to the border city of Ruili in Yunnan. This pipeline will reduce the distance by 1,200 km and make China less dependent on the Malacca Straits.
China is also developing Sittwe as a commercial port on the west coast. It is natural that Chinese naval activity in the Bay of Bengal will soon follow.
China has also been stepping up arms sales to Myanmar as other nations, including India, are loath to sell offensive military hardware to the country. China is reported to have told Myanmar to take artillery guns from North Korea in return for rice.
Radars have been reported to have been erected on Myanmar’s west coast to monitor Indian missile tests. This is not a positive development, as it will further increase Myanmar’s dependency on China.
However, indications from the military regime are that it does not want China to exercise undue influence in Myanmar’s internal affairs.
The Indian government has worked to extend air, land and sea routes to strengthen trade links with Myanmar and establish a gas pipeline.
Energy: Ongc CnPC competing..
While the involvement of India’s private sector has been low and growing at a slow pace, both governments are proceeding to enhance cooperation in agriculture, telecommunications, information technology, steel, oil, natural gas, hydrocarbons and food processing.According to the ministry of external affairs, relations with Myanmar have become truly multi-faceted, ‘with cooperation in a range of developmental and other projects in the areas of roads, power, hydro-carbon, oil refinery, transmission lines, telecommunications and information technology.’
The bilateral border trade agreement of 1994 provides for border trade to be carried out from three designated border points, one each in Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland.
2001 India and Burma inaugurated a major 160 kilometre highway, called the Indo-Myanmar Friendship Road,
Both nations sought to cooperate to counteract drug trafficking and insurgent groups operating in the border areas.
India and Myanmar are leading members of BIMSTEC and the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, along with Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, helping India develop its influence and ties amongst Southeast Asian nations.
Joint statement of Thanshwe’s visit:
The Indian side agreed to consider Myanmar’s request for assistance in the three areas namely: IT development, Industrial development and Infrastructure development in Myanmar.
Construction and revamping of the Rhi-Tiddim road at a cost of more than US$ 60 million.
Grant of US$ 10 million for procurement of agricultural machinery from India.
The two leaders agreed to cooperate in the implementation of the Tamanthi and Shwezaye projects on the Chindwin River Basin in Myanmar.
The Myanmar side conveyed their gratitude for India’s line of credit of US$ 64 million in the transmission lines sector to be executed through M/s. PGCIL.
The two leaders agreed to upgrade the microwave link between Moreh to Mandalay under a line of credit of US$ 6 million from India.
The restoration of the historic Ananda temple in Bagan to be undertaken with the assistance of the Archaeological Survey of India, with the involvement of the Ministry of Culture of Myanmar.
The following agreements signed between India and Myanmar by different ministers/officials of the two sides were also witnessed by Chairman, State Peace and Development Council of Myanmar, Senior General Than Shwe and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Treaty on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters
Memorandum of Understanding regarding Indian Grant Assistance for Implementation of Small Development Projects
Agreement on Cooperation in the fields of Science and Technology
Memorandum of understanding on Information Cooperation
Memorandum of understanding for the Conservation and Restoration of the Ananda Temple in Bagan
Krishna’s Visit:economy and security
Both the countries will also sign an agreement setting up Myanmar’s second industrial park with Indian help.
An memorandum of understanding will be signed for improving border trade by linking Manipur with Tiddim in Chin state of Myanmar through Rhi-Tiddim road.
While India is concerned with the slow pace of progress on the issue of national reconciliation and the consequent delay in installing a democratically elected government in power in Yangon, the strategic scenario compels India to balance its security concerns with its support for the emergence of democratic rule.
It is only through close engagement that India can promote leverages with the ruling regime to nudge it gently towards national reconciliation.
India must also increase its economic footprint in Myanmar, particularly in areas that are contiguous to India.
The fear psychosis of Myanmar’s military junta is being exploited by China and this cannot be in the interest of either India or any of the other democracies of the free world.
It is important to end Myanmar’s isolation and to allay its fears that the whole world is ganging up against it.
India’s national interest lies in a strong and stable Myanmar that observes strict neutrality between India and China
For India, Myanmar is a bridge with Southeast Asia. In fact, it is a bridge between the countries comprising the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (where Myanmar has observer status) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
December 2011 update
The Myanmar govt, military, NLD and Suu Kyi are now together working towards reforms in the country. What should India’s role be now?
- India should re-craft its Myanmar policy with a judicious mixture of pragmatism and boldness.
- It should no longer be content with just a focus on managing development cooperation projects; it must enhance the political quotient of the relationship. It is time to articulate our interest in crafting ‘a strategic relationship’ with Myanmar.
- There should be more high level visits to Myanmar
- Accelerate business to business engagement and dialogue between the strategic communities
Myanmar is a lynch pin for Look East policy as it is the land bridge between India and ASEAN.
While the main thrust of the Look East Policy has been economic and integration and energy security with the nations of South East Asia, in the case of Myanmar it is also of strategic importance and security of our North East. India has a land border of 1640 Km and a coast line of 1930 Km to the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
It was in 1993 when India reversed its stand and started engaging the military regime. Since then our relations with Myanmar has been in the upswing and had paid dividends (though some analysts consider that it is not commensurate with the effort).
Major Indian Projects in Myanmar
- Construction, upgrading land resurfacing of the 160 Km long Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo road, upgradation of Rhi-Tidim and Rhi-Falam roads.
- Kaladan Multi-modal Transport project
- ADSL project for High Speed Data Link in 32 Myanmar Cities has been completed by TCIL
- ISRO assisted Data Processing centre in Yangon
- A heavy truck assembly of TATAs.
- ONGC Videsh Limited, GAIL and ESSAR have stakes in the energy sector in Myanmar
In addition India has exchanged high level visits with Myanmar. India has supplied defence equipment and port calls by the Indian Navy Ships have been made. In January 2006, a Myanmar Navy ship participated in “Milan” at Port Blair. This was a historic first ever visit of a Myanmar warship to any foreign port. Gen Deepak Kapoor Chief of Army Staff visited Myanmar in October 2009 and an Indian delegation led by the Home Secretary which included senior officials from Army and Military Intelligence visited Myanmar in January 2010. Myanmar is learnt to have agreed to launch “coordinated operations” to flush out NE militants from its territory—quite similar to what Bhutan did against ULFA in 2003. Bilateral Trade has expanded significantly from US $ 12.4 million in 1980-81 to US $ 951.14 million in 2008-09.
Myanmar has been given the status of observer in SAARC in August 2008