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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More