Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has reached Myanmar on a two-day visit from Wednesday. This is the first high-level visit ever from the Indian side since the Tatamadaw takeover in February this year.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), important issues such as the humanitarian crisis, border issue, trade and the current political issues in Myanmar could be discussed amidst this visit. Apart from discussions, the Foreign Secretary will interact with civil society groups, state assembly state administration council.
Earlier this year, when General Min Aung Hlang-led coup took charge of the government, New Delhi flagged concerns with respect to the development, respect for rule of law and a robust democratic process needing to be upheld.
Myanmar is crucial to India’s connectivity initiatives and the latter is seen as a strategic partner when it comes to India’s neighbourhood outreach. In March, Shringla also pinned about the concerns in Yangon needing to be solved through mutual cooperation between the two since Myanmar is essential for connecting New Delhi to Southeast Asia through highway connectivity projects such as the Kaladan Development project, costing Rs 517.92 crores.
The project aims to make the movement of goods and services more feasible and transparent. New Delhi is even working on port development in Sittwe and Paletwa along with energy and hydrocarbon projects where India has invested in gas assets in Myanmar worth USD$ 1.2 billion.
Through these essential frequent visits, India needs to be in good books of the military regime since the Tatamadaw’s attention has also been attracted by Beijing, witnessed through the former’s silence on the sudden change of government and also using economic initiatives, pipelines, port development costing USD $ 21.5 billion to further harness its economic and military capabilities in the Indian periphery.
These developments and crisis which have come could be counterproductive for New Delhi’s initiatives such as its Neighborhood as well as ‘Act East Policy’ if the former doesn’t move properly with its projects and build a positive image amongst its neighbours.