News / Asia

    India Puts Security, Trade With Burma Ahead of Democracy

    Indian Foreign Minister S.M Krishna (file photo)
    Indian Foreign Minister S.M Krishna (file photo)
    Daniel Schearf

    India's foreign minister is in Burma for meetings with top leaders that are expected to focus on security and trade. New Delhi says the trip, the first since a civilian government took office, is an opportunity to "further vitalize" the relationship.

    S.M. Krishna’s visit is India’s first high-level engagement since the country’s military government was replaced with a nominally civilian leadership in March.

    India says the two sides will discuss security cooperation as well as trade and investment.

    Krishna is not scheduled to meet with opposition and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was banned from participating in the election.

    India was once a vocal Suu Kyi supporter but changed its policy in the early 1990s in order to have better cooperation with the military government.

    Professor D.S. Muni at Singapore's Institute of South Asian Studies says India realized there was a heavy security cost for supporting Aung San Suu Kyi and calls for democracy in Burma.

    “Certainly as a result of change in New Dehli’s policy there has been considerable cooperation on the border, for instance," Muni said. "Lot of northeast insurgencies which have been earlier taking shelter in Myanmar - the Myanmar government’s cooperation is forthcoming.”

    Muni says although there is cooperation, India has not been entirely satisfied with Burma’s border security and hopes to improve communications with the new government over the issue.  

    Critics say Burma’s controversial November election merely gave a civilian face to continued military rule.

    A quarter of all parliament seats were reserved for the military and the military party won by a landslide amid widespread reports of voter fraud and intimidation.

    Muni says although India is not pushing openly for democratic change in Burma, it has engaged in quiet diplomacy on the issue.

    The engagement policy has also paid off economically for both Burma and India.

    Bilateral annual trade volume shot from tens of millions of dollars in the 1980s to about a billion and a half dollars last year. Muni says Burma has also discussed brokering new deals for critical energy supplies including oil.

    While that remains far less than the several billion dollars of annual Chinese trade and investment, Muni says India is more worried about Chinese naval activity in the region.

    "Recently there were visit[s] of the two Chinese ships," Muni said. "Now there is a Chinese ship coming to Singapore. The Chinese are setting up a port development in Sri Lanka, they're planning a port development in Chittagong [Bangladesh]. So, I think this naval activity has suddenly alerted almost anyone who has concern for security in the Bay of Bengal.”

    The Indian foreign minister’s visit coincides with a visit to Burma by a delegation from the European Union.

    The EU group also met with government ministers and was to meet Tuesday evening with Aung San Suu Kyi.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora