Sunday, November 21, 2010

INDIA - MYANMAR Balancing Act

When US President Obama addressed the Indian Parlaiment last week, and said that India should not shy away from criticising some countries, he was very obviously referring to Indian Foreign Policy on Myanmar. Because, at about the same time, controversial elections were being held in the military-run Myanmar.

What he failed to see is this - Indian strategic interests in this large neighbouring country necessitate India to take a very careful diplomatic stance. The growing Chinese presence in Myanmar must be countered, and huge Indian investments in Myanmar must be protected. Also, there are deeper ties because Myanmar, then Burma, was a former province of India. And, India must watch what it says. Its not called shyness, but diplomacy.

Furthermore, India is Burma’s 4th largest trading partner after Thailand, China and Singapore. And India is the largest market for Burmese exports. Indo-Myanmar bilateral trade figures are staggering.

So, the engagement of US and other countries with Myanmar cannot be seen as being the same as that of India’s. And Obama must note that.

He seems to have forgotten that US had to deal with a military-run Pakistan, before the elections were announced by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who had made a hostile takeover of a democratic country. US had in fact provided enormous support funds to this Musharraf government.

So, is it ok for US to deal with non-democratic governments, but it is not ok for India?? He must know that what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

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