You are here

Amol Shinde asked: Is Myanmar's democratisation in India's favour vis-à-vis China ?

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • Udai Bhanu Singh replies: The democratic transition underway in Myanmar is a happy augury for India, the world’s largest democracy. Yet, India does not advocate the ‘export’ of democracy. Besides, a democratic movement which is indigenous (but is open to fresh ideas from outside) has greater chances of success. The initial attempt at democracy in 1988 (and the 1990 elections thereafter) did not fructify as it was suppressed. As the West imposed sanctions (taking the high moral ground), China seized the opportunity to make inroads into the country with heavy economic and military aid and investment.

    A new era dawned in Myanmar with the new 2008 Constitution, the November 2010 elections, and the new parliament, which holds the prospect of reconciliation among the three stakeholders in Myanmar: the military, the political parties and the ethnic groups. Myanmar’s democratisation will help the country break out of economic isolation. Second, military assistance would help wean it away from China’s clasp. Democratisation in Myanmar would restore the balance in its polity and help address the issue of developmental neglect in minority dominated border provinces (adjoining both India’s northeast and China). Internal stability in Myanmar (with improved inter-ethnic relations) would render greater autonomy to the country in its external relations (evidenced in the suspension of China-led Myitsone dam project recently). While it appears unlikely that China’s other mega-projects (such as Kyaukphyu port development and the dual pipeline and railway line starting from the same port) would be adversely affected, it will introduce alternative players into the fray. As the ASEAN members (and the world community) take note of China’s assertion in the South China Sea and China’s access to the Indian Ocean, a growing interest in Myanmar’s democratisation process is a welcome development.