Understanding Myanmar Crisis – UPSC GS2

Crisis in Myanmar:
  • Mass protests have been taking place across Myanmar since the military seized control in 2021.
  • Elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party are among those detained.
  • After the coup, a parallel government named the National Unity Government (NUG) was formed which soon lost momentum.
  • Instability has ruined the economy, with the World Bank terming it as “critically weak” which in turn weakened the Government’s efforts to manage the pandemic.
What is the ASEAN’s role in Myanmar?
  • The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are trying to meditate by persuading Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the regime’s supremo, to accept the ‘Five-Point Consensus’ which comprises the cessation of violence, national dialogue and mediatory efforts by ASEAN.
  • Cambodia has adopted a softer approach which is backed by Thailand and Laos. It aims at adjusting to the military’s refusal to compromise on its key requirements such as denial of access to Daw Suu Kyi for ASEAN mediators, and little dilution of the 2008 Constitution.
  • Other ASEAN States led by Indonesia are opposed to Cambodia’s diplomacy. They are calling for holding the military accountable for the ongoing crisis in Myanmar.
What is the role of Other players in Myanmar?
  • West Response: The United States and the European Union are unable to comprehend the dynamics of power in Myanmar. The western policy to promote democracy and impose sanctions against the military have produced minimal results.
  • Russia’s Response: Russia has refused to condemn the coup in Myanmar due to its desire to keep lucrative military contracts with the new military regime
  • China’s Response: China enjoys enormous leverage in Myanmar through its control over several ethnic armed organizations, projects covered by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the regime’s protection via veto in the Security Council, and substantial investments in Myanmar
What is India’s Policy in Myanmar?
  • India has done much to shape and to strengthen diplomatic efforts at the UN and through its support to ASEAN for putting Myanmar’s transition to democracy back on the rails.
  • India provided one million doses of “Made in India” vaccines, and humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar.
  • For India, the well-established two-track policy of supporting democracy and maintaining cordial relations with the Government remains in operation.
    • India has to protect the state’s interests, guided by realism and pragmatism.
    • It has to discourage a mass influx of refugees
    • Cut the capability of insurgent groups to endanger security in the Northeast from Myanmar soil
    • Safeguard the ongoing projects and investments
    • Counter China’s growing influence.

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