Myanmar Delegation’s Visit to the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), 21 Sep 2018
Welcome Remarks by Director, VIF

It gives me great pleasure to welcome His Excellency General U Aung Min and the distinguished members of the Myanmar delegation for an exchange of views on global, regional and bilateral issues. We greatly value the dialogue.

As neighbours, India and Myanmar have shared culture and civilisation. In India, Myanmar is also known as Brahma Desh or the place of Lord Brahma. Buddhism has been nourished and propagated from Myanmar. Hindu Gods and Goddesses are known in Myanmar; Saraswati is known as Tharuthari, Siva as Parvijwa and Vishnu as Vithano. In recent time, Myanmar had an important role in India’s struggle for independence when Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose led the Indian National Army through Myanmar against the British army. Such emotional connections bring us closer to each other and provide the basis for further development of our ties.

Our ties are also strategic. India’s North East and Myanmar are situated at a geographical point where South Asia and South East Asia meet. This is also a meeting point of diverse cultures and civilisation; the region is characterised by tremendous ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversities. This is also region where the Himalayas and their water flow into the Bay of Bengal. These geographical, anthropological and cultural factors have saved our relations. BIMSTEC seeks to capture that diversity.

It is a matter of great satisfaction that India-Myanmar relations are progressing very well. The state visit of the President and the State Counselor of Myanmar to India in 2015 and that of Prime Minister Modi to Myanmar in 2017 have strengthened the multifaceted ties between the two countries.

India appreciates the measure taken by the government of Myanmar towards peace and national reconciliation. General Aung Min has been closely involved with the peace process. We will be delighted to hear from him about the current status of peace and national reconciliation efforts.

India and Myanmar share a long and porous border. Cooperation on boarder management issues is central to our relationship. The two countries also operate a free movement regime. Our armed forces and the border guarding forces have maintained close coordination and cooperation among each other. However, incidents do take place from time to time. We urge the Government of Myanmar to take effective action against the National Socialist Council of Nagaland- Khaplang (NSCN-K) group which continues to make forays into the Indian territory from the Myanmar side. There is a need to further strengthen the cooperation mechanism between the agencies of the two sides.

Terrorism is a threat to regional peace and stability. India and Myanmar have a common position on this issue. We both agree that selective and partial approaches to combatting terrorism are counter- productive and there is a need to expeditiously finalise and adopt a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the UN General Assembly.

India and Myanmar cooperate with each other on several levels including bilateral, BIMSTEC and in India-ASEAN framework. Myanmar is a gateway to India’s outreach to South-East Asia and occupies an important place in its Act-East-Policy. Good, friendly relations, effective border management and connectivity will be beneficial for the local populations on both sides of the border. India supports several projects in Myanmar like the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project and other road and bridge construction projects. Substantial progress has been made on the Kaladan Project with the completion of the works on Sittwe Port and Platewa Island Water Transport Terminal. We hope that soon the Port will become functional. These projects will further facilitate and enhance India-Myanmar engagement and improve connectivity with ASEAN.

It is time we strengthen BIMSTEC to realise its full potential. It provides yet another platform for India-Myanmar relations. The 4TH BIMSTEC summit was held in Kathmandu. Several new ideas to strengthen cooperation have been propagated. It is in our mutual interest to strengthen the BIMSTEC.

Defence cooperation<.i> between the two sides has been growing. This is a welcome development. The potential of defence cooperation is far more than what we have realized. Training of military officer is a major component of bilateral defence cooperation as is coordinated patrolling of the border. But we can look at defence technology and trade initiative. Cooperation has now extended in the maritime domain as well. The Myanmar Navy has participated in the MILAN series of naval exercises. The first bilateral exercises between the armies of the two countries was held in Meghalaya in Nov 2017 to train the Myanmar soldiers in UN Peace Keeping operation.

The regional situation is changing rapidly. India and China had a military standoff in 2017 at Doklam. Fortunately, it was resolved diplomatically. Since then Prime Minister Modi and President Xi have met several times. While there is presently a thaw in Sino-Indian relations, management of relations with China is a challenge, partly due to the unresolved boundary issue and partly due to China’s regional ambitions. India is concerned at the growing Chinese influence in the neighbourhood. Its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) initiative raised several geo-political conundrums. China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an example. It violates India’s sovereignties and territorial integrity. Chinese projects have created unsustainable debt situation in Sri Lanka and now in Pakistan. Chinese occupation of Islands in South China Sea has also raised doubt about the implications of the rise of China. We would like to know how Myanmar looks at China’s rise and its implication for the countries in the region, particularly for the ASEAN.

India has become the sixth largest economy in the world with the GDP about $ 2.5 trillion. Despite adverse global economic situation, the Indian economy grew by 8.3 percent in the last quarter. Prime Minister Modi has given a call to transform India into a New India. India is ready to share the fruits of its economic growth with other countries including Myanmar. The launch of South Asia satellite with a view to share benefits of space technologies with South Asian countries is an example.

Excellency, your visit to the VIF gives us a chance to have a frank and candid exchange of views on a range of issues. This is also an opportunity for us to identify and develop new ideas for future cooperation.

Thank You.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
1 + 1 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.
Contact Us