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Aung San Suu Kyi

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Expectedly, after Bhutan and Nepal it is the turn of Myanmar for India's outreach as part of its neighbourhood watch diplomacy. There is one common thread running through all these three countries: the China factor. Myanmar's military leadership has been opening out to the world and going down the path of a more inclusive form of governance by giving the Opposition due space in the country's political set-up. Myanmar has intensified engagement with other countries, including India, indicating a shift in its policy of decades of keeping all its eggs in just one basket: China. In fact, Myanmar has taken some bold policy decisions in the recent past which are contrary to Chinese interests. However, China continues to be Myanmar's closest friend and the two have been cooperating very closely in fields like security, energy, business and infrastructure. Over the past few years India has come fairly close to Myanmar and enjoys such kind of diplomatic clout with this hitherto iron-curtain state that even Western countries have often used New Delhi's good offices to reach out to Nay Pyi Taw during some tricky situations. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who has already visited Bhutan and Bangladesh and has just completed her visit to Nepal, will be traveling to Myanmar next month to give further fillip to bilateral ties. She will be in Nay Pyi Taw, new capital of Myanmar, for East Asia Summit/ASEAN Regional Forum ministerial meetings. During her maiden trip to Myanmar, the minister will also be preparing the ground for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to that country in November this year to attend EAS/ASEAN-India Summits. A major highlight of Modi's trip to Myanmar is going to be his bilateral meetings with Myanmar's political leadership, including the opposition leader and chairperson of the National League for Democracy Aung San Suu Kyi. Myanmar is another contiguous neighbour of India where China has a huge presence. For this reason, it is but logical that Myanmar is the next destination of a high-level political visit from India. India can ignore China's infrastructure diplomacy in the region at its own peril. China is currently building two north-south strategic corridors on either side of India - the Trans-Karakoram Corridor stretching right up to Gwadar in Pakistan, at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, and the Irrawaddy Corridor in Myanmar involving road, river and rail links from Yunnan right up to Myanmar's ports. Another infrastructural corridor in the region, being pushed by China, is in the works. China has already proposed the Bangladesh China India Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor which is meant to cover 1.65 million square kilometers encompassing about 440 million people in the four countries. The proposed BCIM corridor will run from Kunming, capital of China's Yunnan province which borders Myanmar, to Kolkata snaking through Mandalay in Myanmar and Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh. The BCIM issue will be one of the major highlights of diplomatic conversations between India and Myanmar in the coming weeks and months. The Indian response to this has not been fully articulated yet. India has some acute security concerns as New Delhi apprehends that transnational connectivity given by the BCIM corridor may stoke insurgency in the northeast. India may like to incorporate some checks and balances in the BCIM proposal so that its national security is not compromised, though India realizes immense benefits that the BCIM Corridor concept can give to the entire Indian northeast as well as several other states like West Bengal. Myanmar's importance for India cannot be overstated. A large population of Indian origin (according to some estimates about 2.5 million) lives in Myanmar, says the Ministry of External Affairs' website on India-Myanmar relations.

Expectedly, after Bhutan and Nepal it is the turn of Myanmar for India\'s outreach as part of its neighbourhood watch diplomacy. There is one common thread running through all these three countries: the China factor. Myanmar\'s military leadership has been opening out to the world and going down the path of a more inclusive form of governance by giving the Opposition due space in the country\'s political set-up. Myanmar has intensified engagement with other countries, including India, indicating a shift in its policy of decades of keeping all its eggs in just one basket: China. In fact, Myanmar has taken some bold policy decisions in the recent past which are contrary to Chinese interests. However, China continues to be Myanmar\'s closest friend and the two have been cooperating very closely in fields like security, energy, business and infrastructure. Over the past few years India has come fairly close to Myanmar and enjoys such kind of diplomatic clout with this hitherto iron-curtain state that even Western countries have often used New Delhi\'s good offices to reach out to Nay Pyi Taw during some tricky situations. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who has already visited Bhutan and Bangladesh and has just completed her visit to Nepal, will be traveling to Myanmar next month to give further fillip to bilateral ties. She will be in Nay Pyi Taw, new capital of Myanmar, for East Asia Summit/ASEAN Regional Forum ministerial meetings. During her maiden trip to Myanmar, the minister will also be preparing the ground for Prime Minister Narendra Modi\'s visit to that country in November this year to attend EAS/ASEAN-India Summits. A major highlight of Modi\'s trip to Myanmar is going to be his bilateral meetings with Myanmar\'s political leadership, including the opposition leader and chairperson of the National League for Democracy Aung San Suu Kyi. Myanmar is another contiguous neighbour of India where China has a huge presence. For this reason, it is but logical that Myanmar is the next destination of a high-level political visit from India. India can ignore China\'s infrastructure diplomacy in the region at its own peril. China is currently building two north-south strategic corridors on either side of India - the Trans-Karakoram Corridor stretching right up to Gwadar in Pakistan, at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, and the Irrawaddy Corridor in Myanmar involving road, river and rail links from Yunnan right up to Myanmar\'s ports. Another infrastructural corridor in the region, being pushed by China, is in the works. China has already proposed the Bangladesh China India Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor which is meant to cover 1.65 million square kilometers encompassing about 440 million people in the four countries. The proposed BCIM corridor will run from Kunming, capital of China\'s Yunnan province which borders Myanmar, to Kolkata snaking through Mandalay in Myanmar and Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh. The BCIM issue will be one of the major highlights of diplomatic conversations between India and Myanmar in the coming weeks and months. The Indian response to this has not been fully articulated yet. India has some acute security concerns as New Delhi apprehends that transnational connectivity given by the BCIM corridor may stoke insurgency in the northeast. India may like to incorporate some checks and balances in the BCIM proposal so that its national security is not compromised, though India realizes immense benefits that the BCIM Corridor concept can give to the entire Indian northeast as well as several other states like West Bengal. Myanmar\'s importance for India cannot be overstated. A large population of Indian origin (according to some estimates about 2.5 million) lives in Myanmar, says the Ministry of External Affairs\' website on India-Myanmar relations. [caption id=attachment_1637013 align=alignleft width=380 View full gallery