India-Myanmar reviewed their Bilateral Relations

The 19th round of Foreign Office Consultations between India and Myanmar was held on October 1, 2020 in virtual mode.  Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla led the Indian delegation while the Myanmar delegation was led by Permanent Secretary, U Soe Han.

Highlights

  • During the consultations, countries reviewed the entire gamut of relations.
  • They reviewed their border cooperation and the restoration work on earthquake damaged pagodas in Bagan.
  • Both sides discussed cooperation in regional and multilateral forums.
  • They expressed satisfaction that despite the COVID pandemic, meetings in areas including power, energy have been held virtually. This reflects the depth of the bilateral engagement, they said.
  • They also discussed to operationalize the Sittwe port by 2021.
  • The next Joint Trade Committee Ministerial Meeting will be held on October 20 which would further strengthen the bilateral trade and investment relations.

Importance of Myanmar to India

Myanmar geographically stands at the crossroads of India-Southeast relations. So, Myanmar is geographically important to India. It is the only Southeast Asian country that shares a land border with north-eastern India having a border of 1,624 kilometres. It also share a 725-km maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.It is the only country that fits at the intersection of India’s “Neighborhood First” policy and its “Look East” policy. Buddhism, Business, Bollywood, Bharatnatyam, and Burma teak are the five Bs that frame India-Myanmar relations.

Indian Projects In Myanmar

The Government of India is highly involved in several projects in Myanmar. These includes:

  1. Upgradation of the 160 km. long Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo road.
  2. Construction and up-gradation of the Rhi-Tiddim Road.
  3. Kaladan Multimodal Transport Project and Sitwe port.
  4. ADSL project for high-speed data links in 32 Myanmar cities. It has been completed by TCIL.
  5. ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL), GAIL, and ESSAR are participants of energy sector in Myanmar.
  6. M/s RITES is developing the rail transportation system and supplying the railway coaches and locos.

Myanmar is an essential element of India’s regional diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific. It also serves as a bridge to connect South Asia and Southeast Asia. Following this, Myanmar was given the observer status in SAARC in August 2008. Thus, it is in India’s interest to see Myanmar as a stable and autonomous country. They should make greater bilateral engagement to strengthen the relations.