Relations with Myanmar

After Bhutan’s exemplary action against terrorists, it is now reported that Myanmar has promised action against terrorists operating out of its terrorist. That’s a welcome move. A India-Myanmar-Thailand highway which gives India’s north east access to the Indo-Chinese and ASEAN markets. Indeed this highway has the potential to transform the North Eastern states and put them on a path to faster economic development. Good relations with Myanmar will be important for this to happen.

But India must not forget that Myanmar is run by a bunch of paranoid generals who have stolen the future of one whole generation; and they are not in any mood to spare the next. Sooner or later, the junta is bound to fall – and when it does, the people of Myanmar must not remember India as one with their erstwhile tormentors. While pragmatic handling demands a modus vivendi with the junta, India’s long term policy objective should be to coerce Myanmar towards freedom and democracy. The junta is trying to counter-balance India with China; to succumb to the generals would be playing into their hands. China under the Communist Party will not be able to reach out to the Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratic forces as well as India can. If India continues to cozy up to the junta without any regard for the democratic forces it will squander this advantage.