India's Approach to the Crisis in Myanmar

  Aug 11, 2023

India's Policy towards Myanmar's Crisis

India-Myanmar India’s Security Concerns

India's policy towards Myanmar is significantly influenced by its security concerns in the northeast region and its strategic considerations vis-à-vis China. This is evident through various actions and initiatives undertaken by India:
• Northeast Insurgency: India shares a long and porous border with Myanmar, which has been used as a sanctuary by various insurgent groups operating in India's northeastern states. The Indian government is concerned about cross-border movement of these groups, arms smuggling, and other security challenges that emanate from this region.
• Strengthening Border Security: India's policy aims to enhance border security and prevent insurgent activities. This includes increased patrolling, intelligence sharing, and joint military operations with Myanmar's armed forces to target insurgent bases along the border.
• Infrastructure Development: India has been actively engaged in infrastructure development near the Myanmar border, such as the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project and the Sittwe Port in Myanmar's Rakhine State. These projects not only aim to improve connectivity for India's northeastern states but also have strategic implications in countering China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in the region.
• Chabahar Port: India's efforts to develop Iran's Chabahar Port are partly motivated by its desire to bypass Pakistan and have an alternative route to Afghanistan and Central Asia. The Chabahar Port can provide access to these regions without relying on routes that pass through China's influence, including those through Myanmar.
• Geostrategic Balance: India perceives China's growing influence in Myanmar as a strategic challenge. The China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, a crucial component of the BRI, aims to connect China's Yunnan province to the Indian Ocean via Myanmar. India's infrastructure projects near the border are seen as a countermeasure to balance China's expanding influence.
• Regional Diplomacy: India's engagement with Myanmar is also aimed at strengthening regional cooperation. For instance, the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway project is a part of this approach, which seeks to enhance connectivity and trade links among the three countries.
• Rohingya Crisis: The Rohingya refugee crisis further complicates India's policy. While India has concerns about national security and illegal immigration, it also needs to manage its image on the international stage and balance its actions with humanitarian considerations.
In summary, India's policy towards Myanmar is indeed framed through its security concerns in the northeast region, including insurgency and cross-border activities. The infrastructure projects near the Myanmar border are part of India's broader strategy to counter China's influence and enhance connectivity, contributing to its regional geopolitical goals
1. Proactive Beginnings: India initially took a proactive approach by providing food and vaccine assistance to Myanmar during the COVID-19 pandemic and the coup.
2. Fading Concerns: However, India's concern for the Myanmarese people seems to have waned over time, overshadowed by accusations of instigating violence in Manipur.
3. Border Complexities: Communities along the border have defied India's Home Ministry by providing shelter to refugees, highlighting complexities in border management.
4. Security Concerns: India's policy towards Myanmar is framed through the lens of security concerns in its northeast region and relations with China. Infrastructure projects near the Myanmar border aim to counter China's influence.
5. Arms Supply Dilemma: Despite advocating for democracy, India has been reported to increase arms supply to the military since the coup, undermining its stance and contributing to border tensions.
6. Policy Options: India has options to consider in its policy towards Myanmar:
• Engage with Aung San Suu Kyi and pro-democracy actors, leveraging her influence for a peaceful resolution.
• Foster care and compassion towards incoming refugees, avoiding securitization and profiling to prevent further violence.
• Balance security concerns with a commitment to democracy, aligning policy actions more consistently.
7. Conclusion: India's policy towards Myanmar faces challenges in navigating its security interests and democratic values. A balanced approach that engages with key stakeholders and prioritizes stability and compassion could contribute to a more effective policy stance.


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