The recent developments at international arena have shifted the focus of the world towards Neo Realism where each country has started furthering their interests vigorously, clearly disregarding the moral and ethical viewpoints. The leader in such discourse is India who’s dubious (for international actors) and hegemonic (for regional actors) foreign policy have forced the other nations to have a relook at their diplomatic engagements. Indian stance towards Russian – Ukraine war and Military Coup in Myanmar clearly shows the dubious foreign policy where instead of explaining their actions, accusations are labeled on others for having similar approach. In Myanmar, Indian Foreign Policy objectives are more than historical romance with Military Junta; they target Chinese growing influence as well as establishing hegemonic dominance over the Burmese nation.
The idea of converting Myanmar as a conduit to Southeast Nations, emerges out of Indian ambitious Look East and Neighborhood First Policy. This policy dictates strong relationship with Military of Myanmar where the strength of Burmese political economy lies. Therefore, irrespective of the government in Myanmar, India will always have closer ties with Tatmadaw. The warm relationship between India and the current Myanmar regime started soon after the coup in February 2021. While the regime was being internationally condemned for its coup, India was careful not to make any direct reference to the military takeover or to condemn it in its statements. Since coup there have been multiple engagements between India and Myanmar Military rulers.
At the time when world was distancing themselves from Military Junta of Myanmar, India extended invitation to Commander-in-Chief (Navy) Admiral Moe Aung of Myanmar to attended the third edition of Goa Maritime Conclave 2021 (GMC2021) in Goa from 7 to 9 November. The Goa Maritime Conclave is hosted by Indian Navy once two years. During the visit Commander-in-Chief (Navy) Admiral Moe Aung of Myanmar had separate one to one meetings with National Security Advisor, Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of the Naval Staff of India. Commander-in-Chief (Navy) Admiral Moe Aung discussed active cooperation between Indian Navy and Tatmadaw (Navy), maritime security and non-traditional security threats in Indian Ocean, Navy to Navy Staff Talks, Coordinated Patrol, Bilateral and Multilateral forums.
India sent the Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on a two-day visit to Myanmar, to workout future course of bilateral engagements. Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) highlighted that India and Myanmar share border therefore “peace and stability in Myanmar” is of importance to India. Shringla had meetings with Chairman of State Administrative Council Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and other senior officials. During his visit, Shringla handed over 1 million doses of “Made in India” vaccines to the Myanmar and also announced a grant of 10,000 tons of rice, at the time when other countries were imposing sanctions on military junta.
The Multilateral Naval Exercise (MILAN-2022) was held in Visakhapatnam, India from 25 February to 4 March. A total of 24 warships from 16 countries, including India, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Australia, the United States, Britain, South Korea, Japan, France and Seychelles, joined activity and seminar. Myanmar Navy was among the 13 countries that participated with their warships in Milan exercise hosted by the Indian Navy. A warship named Sinphyushin led by Commander Commodore Kyaw Kyaw Htoo from Tatmadaw (Navy) joined exercise.
A delegation from Myanmar Navy was invited for Fourth edition of biennial Goa Maritime Symposium conducted successfully by the Indian Navy at Goa from 31 October to 01 November 2022.Myanmar was among the 12 countries invited to participate the symposium, conducted by the Naval War College, Goa.
Indian council general at Sitwe has announced that work of Sitwe port is almost finished and it will soon start operations. Sitwe port is one of the components of India’s nearly US$400-million Kaladan Multi Model Transit Trade project in Rakhine State of Myanmar. Besides this India is contributing around $250 million to another road project to connect India’s landlocked northeastern states with Thailand via Myanmar. India taking advantage of Junta truce with Arakan Army wants to push on Kaladan project for its early completion.
Diplomatically, while other countries like Britain and Australia have a bumpy relationship with the Myanmar junta, as evidenced by a downgrading of their diplomatic presence, Indian Ambassador Vinay Kumar presented his credentials to Min Aung Hlaing in April, which amounts to acceptance of Junta rue over Myanmar. Then, a few weeks later, the ambassador rushed to hold talks with regime-appointed Union Election Commission (UEC) chairman Thein Soe to ask about electoral processes and discuss further cooperation with UEC on the upcoming election. Now, bilateral discussion have become a norm as evident from frequent visits of Indian Ambassador to Naypyidaw.
Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar while defending relations with Myanmar at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok stated; New Delhi’s position on Myanmar has been consistent over decades and goes back to the country’s struggle for freedom against colonialism. India Myanmar relationship is not something which should be judged; by the politics of the day. Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
Peoples Defence Forces operating close to India Myanmar border confirmed that they noticed convoys carrying delivery of Arms from India to Myanmar Military Junta via Tamu-Morre Border. Besides this National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India also announced launching a probe into alleged smuggling of arms and explosives to People’s Defense Force (PDF), an arm of Myanmar’s exiled National Unity Government (NUG). Dubious role of Indian Intelligence agencies cannot be ruled out.
Chairman of the State Administration Council Prime Minister Senior General Min Aung Hlaing was invited to join Deepavali lighting festival which is the noblest one in Hinduism traditional festivals at Shree Maha Lakshmi Temple in Yankin Township of Yangon. Indian Ambassador to Myanmar Mr Vinay Kumar along with his wife performed the rituals with Senior General which shows cultural ties besides, diplomatic and military ones.
Mr Vinay Mohan Kwatra’s the current Indian Foreign Secretary’s visit is the latest one to Myanmar by a high-ranking Indian government official since the visit of his predecessor Harsh Vardhan Shringla in December last year. Kwatra and Min Aung Hlaing discussed direct exchange between the kyat and the rupee, further promotion of trade and investment including maritime trade, and increased cooperation on border development. He also paid a call on junta Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin and discussed enhancing cooperation in regional and international forums including the UN and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
The world’s largest democracy, Myanmar’s huge neighbor to the northwest has tried its best not to antagonize the junta, which has killed more than 2,000 people for rejecting military rule. Despite international condemnation on the regime, India has been openly cooperating with the military junta, extending diplomatic support and even assistance in organizing a general election that Min Aung Hlaing plans to hold this year. When world talks about isolating Myanmar military regime, discussion of its few allies tends to focus on Russia and China’s engagement with the junta and support for it on UN Security Council (UNSC). One country that has been strangely absent from this conversation, however, is India. India has been and will be one of the major supporters of Myanmar Military regime but surprisingly is not highlighted as such by international media. The world must consider India equally responsible for Myanmar Political Chaos and Human Rights Abuses as it attaches responsibility to China and Russia.
Source – https://www.macaubusiness.com/indian-foreign-minister-defends-ties-with-myanmar-junta/