Is Burma in IndiaIf Burma is in India
lndia and Burma: Work on their relation
Myint explores the development of Indo-Burmese relationships since the 1988 pro-democracy uprising and reflects on what the urge for a "working relationship" can mean for exiled campaigners. India's recent Foreign Minister K. Raghunath's recent trip to Burma is further proof that India and Burma are returning to a "working relationship".
It was the first time that an India Foreign Minister had been in Rangoon since J.N. Dixit's mission six years ago. Historically, India and Burma have a very strong connection due to their historic, culturally and administratively links. The Buddhism came from India to Burma and formed lasting intercultural bonds between the peoples of both states.
In the fight for liberty against domination by colonies, the country's leading nationalists continued to develop strong ties years after the war. Both Nehru and U Nu share a same worldview, and India was helping in many ways when the new Burma was in a state of emergency. In India, U Nu granted U Nu aid and saved his "Government of Rangoon" from the fall to the uprising.
After General Ne Win took over in 1962, the relation between the two nations continued to be upbeat. The 1988 pro-democracy insurgency and the junta's ensuing action against non-violent protesters, however, marks a turning point in India-Burma ties. It was the only neighbouring nation that was clearly and frankly on the side of Burma's democrats at the tim.
In 1988, the then Prime Minister, Mr Rajiv Gandhi, made it clear that India must reinforce the democratic aspiration of the Myanmar population. India was willing to accept them when students' militants escaped to India after the September 1988 overthrow. Narasimha Rao, then Foreign Minister (later Prime Minister), told a parliament that strong instructions had been given not to reject real refugee from Burma who sought refuge in India.
Of course, India's backing for the pro-democracy movements in Burma has led to tensions in formal relations between the two states. However, in 1992 both sides agreed to repair some fencing in their relations. The former India Foreign Minister J.N. Dixit and U Aye, a high-ranking officer of Burma's Foreign Ministry, were the two trailblazers in the regularization of the country's relations.
New Delhi in August 1992 was the first time that a Junior Officer had visited U Aye since 1988. J.N. Dixit officially visited Burma in March 1993. In the following year, Burma's Deputy Foreign Minister U Nyunt Swe made a six-day formal trip to India, where he met with a number of India civil servants and addressed wide-ranging questions to enhance the country's relations.
A Memorandum of Understanding was concluded on 21 January 1994 to strengthen co-operation between the civil frontier services of both nations to avoid "illegal and insurgency activities". They have since kept in touch through official and informative meetings and the exchange of information between frontier officers. lndia is currently constructing a motorway around its National Hwy 39, which links the Indian continent and its north-eastern states with the Burmese roads system.
They are also working on joint exploration projects for Burma's copper and copper mines. According to reports, India is Burma's biggest exporter, with a 23 percent share of its overall exports. We may ask why India has chosen to normalise relations with Burma, a radical inversion of its longstanding democratic work there.
In the view of some India's external relations watchers, three important elements have helped India decide to establish a "working relationship" with the Myanmar junta: the indigenous community in Burma, insurgent issues in north-eastern India and China's increasing impact in Burma. Burma currently has an estimated 1 million Indians, out of a global populace of 47 million.
Until 1972, the nationalisation of the nationalisation of the Nigerian population by the "socialist" Ne Win regime drove some 200,000 Indians out of the state. They were deprived of their wholesalers and retailers without reimbursement and each received 175 kyats to go back to India.
A lot of India's business people still in Burma are hoping that better relationships between the two nations will ensure their economy.