By Arun Kumar Shrivastav
The recent dissolution of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the ruling party of Myanmar, has raised concerns about the country’s political stability and the ongoing conflict in the country. Myanmar, a neighbouring country of India, has long been a focus of attention for India due to its strategic location, shared borders, and economic ties. India’s stance on the developments in Myanmar and its potential impact on India’s interests is an important consideration. So far, India has not condemned the Myanmar military government’s decision to dissolve NLD.
Citing unsubstantiated claims of election fraud, the current crisis in Myanmar began in February 2021, when the military, led by General Min Aung Hlaing, seized power from the elected government of Aung San SuuKyi. The military has since been cracking down on pro-democracy protesters, arresting and imprisoning thousands of activists, journalists, and politicians. The military has also shut down the internet and media outlets, making it difficult for the international community to get accurate information about the situation.
The dissolution of the NLD is a significant development in Myanmar’s political landscape. The military junta that seized power in a coup in February 2021 has cited alleged electoral fraud as a justification for dissolving the party and banning its leaders from participating in politics. The move has been widely criticized by the international community, with many countries, including India, calling for the restoration of democracy in Myanmar.
India has traditionally maintained good relations with Myanmar, and the two countries share a long history of cultural and economic ties. It has been a major investor in Myanmar, particularly in the energy sector, and has been actively involved in supporting Myanmar’s development. It has also been a vocal advocate for democracy in Myanmar and has supported the country’s transition to a democratic system of government.
India’s stance on the current situation in Myanmar has been one of concern and condemnation. The neighbouring country condemned the military junta’s actions and has called for the immediate release of political prisoners, including Aung San SuuKyi, the leader of the NLD. It has also urged the military junta to engage in dialogue with all stakeholders and to work towards restoring democracy in the country. But India has continued to work and cooperate with Myanmar’s ruling military establishment.
The conflict between the military junta and ethnic armed groups has led to instability in the country, with thousands of people displaced and significant loss of life. Additionally, potential to spill over into India’s northeastern states, which share a border with Myanmar has been a major concern.
India has been actively involved in supporting peace and stability in Myanmar. It has been a mediator in peace talks between the government and ethnic armed groups and has provided humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict. They’ve also supported Myanmar’s development, including through infrastructure projects such as the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, which aims to connect India’s northeastern states to Myanmar’s Sittwe port. The region is also strategically important to the country’s interests, particularly with regard trade with Southeast Asian countries.
Myanmar is also important for India in the context of its relationship with China. China has traditionally maintained close ties with Myanmar, and has been a major investor in the country’s infrastructure projects. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) also includes plans to connect China’s southwestern province of Yunnan with Myanmar’s Kyaukpyu port, which could have significant geopolitical implications for the region.
India has also provided humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict, including providing medical assistance to refugees who have crossed over. They’ve also supported Myanmar’s development, particularly through infrastructure projects such as the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, which aims to connect India’s northeastern states to Myanmar’s Sittwe port.
It has been actively engaged in promoting its ‘Act East’ policy, which aims to enhance its ties with Southeast Asian countries. Myanmar is a key player in this policy, and India has been actively involved in promoting trade and connectivity with the country.
Myanmar has traditionally maintained close ties with countries such as China and Russia, and India’s involvement in the country could help to counterbalance these ties. India’s involvement in promoting democracy and stability in Myanmar could also help to enhance its reputation as a regional power and a responsible stakeholder in the region.
The developments in Myanmar have the potential to impact India’s interests in the region. The conflict in Myanmar has already led to increased security concerns for India, particularly in its northeastern states. The dissolution of the NLD and the military junta’s consolidation of power could further destabilize the region and impact India’s economic interests in Myanmar.
The situation in Myanmar has raised concerns about the impact it could have on the country’s transition to democracy, as well as its impact on the wider region. The conflict has also highlighted the ongoing tensions between the military and ethnic minorities in the country, particularly the Rohingya people, who have faced persecution and violence from the military for decades. Does India have a role here as a regional power and Myanmar’s neighbour? Given India’s strong commitment to democracy, it can’t be seen leaving 77-year-old democracy activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, SuuKyi. (IPA Service)