Q. Ashok Kumar asked : What is the significance of India for Myanmar?
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Replied by Dr Sreeradha Datta:

Sharing over 1600 kms of border, India and Myanmar are friendly neighbors. Indians and people of Myanmar have enjoyed the deepest cultural links, trade, connectivity, people-to-people movement and for over a hundred of years in the colonial period in the post post-independence phase too. Working closely over a large number of common issues including cross border activities, India has welcomed the political transition towards democracy and the bilateral ties have gathered further momentum with the introduction of reforms and victory of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi led NLD win in the 2015.

India’s ‘neighbours first’ policy initiated under PM Modi has led to not only focussing on deepening bilateral ties with Myanmar but also engaging with it through the regional forum. Myanmar is a critical partner for India in the changing political landscape in the region and India’s initiatives in the areas of connectivity and development are particularly important, both bilaterally with Myanmar as well as for its outreach to the South east Asian region. Apart from the bilateral Kalandan Multi modal projects, the India, Myanmar and Thailand joint project of the 1,360km highway to be operational by end of this year will further improve the connectivity in the region, bringing in more ancillary growth and development along the corridor. India has also been supporting development of social infrastructure and border area development projects, and extends soft lines for physical infrastructure such as power transmission lines, roads, irrigation, telecommunications, industry and rail transport too. India is also committed to supporting the ‘restoration of normalcy’ in Rakhine State, and the return of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.

While there exists many commonalities including Buddhism, the underlying basis of convergence has been on common security issues and India has been able to to find a modus vivendi to work together with the military establishment and the elected government. Maintaining ties with the entire political spectrum, India has primarily been viewed through friendly lens and the two sides have always maintained cordial ties. The economic engagement has steadily increased with bilateral trade reaching US$ 2.18 billion few years ago, hopefully which will see further consolidation in the current year. India is its fifth largest destination for exports and sixth largest source of imports, with India’s development commitment to Myanmar standing at nearly US$ 2 billion, there is clearly greater scope for India to contribute to Myanmar’s economic development.

Posted on July 09, 2019
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