India’s Myanmar Dilemma – UPSC GS2

Context:
  • Myanmar has seen a lot of political disorder since the military coup in February 2021.
  • The Indian foreign Secretary’s visit to Myanmar will help India-Myanmar bilateral relation to adjust to this change.
  • India needs to adopt a pragmatic approach.
New and emerging challenges in the India-Myanmar relations:
  • Dilemma to engage with Military regime: 
    • Since the coup, India has been firm that the gains made by Myanmar over the last decade on the path towards democracy should not be lost.
    • Further, any democratic transition in Myanmar cannot be done without involving the Junta, so it is imperative that India keeps all channel of communication open with it.
  • Most of the countries in India and Myanmar’s neighbourhood like ASEAN members, Japan, Korea etc have started to deeply engage with the military regime in Myanmar and India can’t lag behind.
  • China’s growing dominance: Ever since the coup, China’s economic grip over Myanmar has only become tighter with a special focus on projects critical for the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor. Hence, India needs to have continuous dialogue with Myanmar keep the security situation in North east under control.
  • Chinese capacity to create trouble in the North East was visible from the deadly attack on an Assam Rifles convoy near the Myanmar border in Manipur. Its increasing influence over Myanmar, only provides with further options to destabilise Indian border areas.
  • Porous borders and Pandemic: India-Myanmar have porous borders at many places. For India, a humanitarian crisis as a result of the pandemic-induced economic crisis in Myanmar can become a major issue.
Approach being adopted by India:
  • India took on a calibrated middle-path position, unlike the West’s policy of condemnation, threats and sanctions against the military regime.
  • India’s approach is similar to ASEAN’s and based on following points:
    • Release of political prisoners
    • Resolution of issues through dialogue
    • Cessation of all violence
    • Full cooperation with ASEAN