Indo-Myanmar relations (Rohingyas issue)



  • GS Mains paper II
  • International relations, India and her neighbours, Indo-Myanmar, Act East Policy, Rohingya’s Issue.


  • PM Narendra Modi visited Myanmar, which is afflicted with Rohingya’s persecution in the Rakhine state.
  • This underlines New Delhi struggles to maintain a delicate balance between its strategic interests and its democratic ideals when it comes to its neighborhood.
  • This visit came at a time when the Myanmar government and Aung San Suu Kyi are facing global condemnation for their handling of the Rohingya crisis in a repeat of what had happened five years ago during a military campaign that displaced more than 100,000 Rohingya.
  • The United Nations has warned that up to 300,000 Rohingya could stream into neighboring Bangladesh as they flee “clearance operations” by Myanmar’s armed forces.

Stand of Myanmar’s government on Rohingyas:

  • In her first remarks since the crisis started in Rakhine state last month, Suu Kyi has suggested that her government was facing its “biggest challenge.”
  • Suu Kyi does not control the military and there continues to be a trust deficit between the two.
  • But her refusal to condemn military abuses against Rohingya provides the generals with political cover.
  • For her part, Suu Kyi – the de facto leader of Myanmar – has blamed “terrorists” for “a huge iceberg of misinformation” and has refused to take a conciliatory position.
  • Myanmar is negotiating with China and Russia to ensure they block any UN Security Council censure over the violence that has forced an exodus of nearly 150,000 Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh in less than two weeks.

India’s stand on the issue of Rohingyas:

  • During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Myanmar recently – the third by an Indian prime minister in five years and the second by him in three years – New Delhi did not directly engage with the issue of Myanmar’s treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority.
  • But at a time when Myanmar is getting isolated, India underlined its support with its joint statement: “India condemned the recent terrorist attacks in northern Rakhine State, wherein several members of the Myanmar security forces lost their lives. Both sides agreed that terrorism violates human rights and there should, therefore, be no glorification of terrorists as martyrs.”

What should India do in order to improve her relations with Myanmar?

  • As China’s profile continues to rise in India’s vicinity, New Delhi would like to enhance India’s presence by developing infrastructure and connectivity projects in the country.
  • No wonder, Myanmar is at the heart of Modi government’s Act East policy with the India-Myanmar-Thailand Asian Trilateral Highway, the Kaladan multimodal project, a road-river-port cargo transport project, and of course BIMSTEC, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.

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