This brief account of political struggle in Burma against the military rule for Democracy and people's rights, also highlights emerging bilateral relations with India focusing on 'Look East Policy' relevant to Northeast India.
Moreover, the same resolution forecasts vital issues concerning democratization, respecting human rights, releasing political prisoners, refugees, detention conditions, political dialogue, protection of civilians, women, child soldiers, health (HIV/AIDS), and humanitarian aid.
Burma gained independence on January 4, 1948, though effectively on September 24, 1947, the Union Constitution of Burma was adopted. On March 2, 1962 General Ne Win took power from U Nu, the Prime Minister of the Union government of Burma. After the coup, Gen Ne Wu abolished the Constitution and started a policy of Burmanization. Headed by Gen Ne Wu, the Socialist Programme Party ruled Burma as one party regime since 1962 turning the country as one of the world's most underprivileged countries. In 2011, out of the 20 worst countries in the world
Myanmar ranked 19. Throughout and afterwards “8888 Nationwide Popular Pro-Democracy Protests” ensued on 8 August 1988. Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi emerged as national leader with her National League for Democracy Party fighting with a Gandhi ji style non-violence campaign against the ruling military junta for peace, human right and most importantly for democracy. State Law and Order restoration Council changed the country's official name from the "Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma" to the "Union of Myanmar" in 1989.
The political crisis and democratic struggles in Burma within itself consumed many innocents’ lives under one of the severe military junta the world has ever seen. In '8888 uprising' at least 3000 people died and thousands got arrested, and even students and monks fell due to military bullets.
It is very significant to recognize the primary reasons that extend the nationwide political turmoil in order to resolve the political crisis in Burma, Instability in the country stems mainly from the extensive political supremacy: the refusal of past and current governments to grant autonomy to ethnic groups and practice authentic federalism. To oppress protestors and opposition parties, the military junta requires a considerable amount of money to maintain their military and governmental instrumentation. Therefore, imposed heavy taxes on civilians that can ill-afford them, and nationalized private property; these measures deteriorate the overall economy of the state and result in the worsening of education and public health sectors. The military regime recklessly mines and exports natural resources and invests the majority of the revenue earned for purchasing military hardware, thereby sustaining negative impact to poverty, underdevelopment, and oppression suffered by the population, and endangering the delicate ecosystems that support day to day livelihoods of the masses.
On the evening of 13 November 2010, Aung Suu Kyi was released from house arrest. Interestingly, On March 2011, President U Thein Sein, a former General, after taking charge, acted swiftly toward democratization, flouting the highly centralized and erratic policies of the past. His moral acts were initiated by releasing political prisoners and insuring steps to liberalize the country’s economy. This new development even made proposals to Aung San Suu Kyi providing a new path for peace and democracy. Consequently, in January 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy, returned to political route running candidates in parliamentary elections. She was elected to Parliament and her party won nearly every seat in the electionsan astonishing result after her years of detention and the violent suppression of her supporters in April.
She famously said about the reforms of Myanmar “The progress that we hope to make with regards to democratization and reforms depends so much on an understanding of the importance of the rule of law,” she further added. “the military ruler of Burma must acknowledge the wrongs of the past.” What may be seen in case of Burma is the transitional period of military junta to peace-loving Democratic environment. The change is a positive step for Burmese people who suffer decade’s long military oppression and human right violation. Sooner or later the process of people’s right may emerged as the triumph trophy for the Burma.
In a recent meeting between P.M. Manmohan Singh
and Burmese President Gen. U Thein Sein on May 28, 2012, India
promised to deliver $500 million credit to Burma for infrastructure and border area development, air services, cultural exchanges, and a joint trade and investment forum. P.M Manmohan Singh auxiliary added that “Myanmar holds a significant place both in India’s Look East Policy and in its collaboration with ASEAN countries under the Initiative for ASEAN Integration.”
The 4th India-Myanmar Joint Trade Committee meeting in New Delhi in late September 2011 attended by the Commerce Ministers of India and Burma revealed areas where increased cooperation is compulsory. Bilateral trade between India and Myanmar was around $1.2 billion in 2011. Both sides hope to push trade to $3 billion by 2015.
Through the initiation of “Look East Policy” in early 1990’s and India’s increasing eastward looking stance Burma consequently become more significant to the policy. Burma not only serve as a doorway to the Southeast Asia, she even indicate to security problem to the India’s Northeast region. From two front picture, Burma is increasingly asserting to the economical and bilateral relation with providing a launch pad for India to put her foothold at Southeast Asia. In the process of “Look East Policy” approach the North Eastern Region’s geographical proximity to Burma appeared to be the "land-bridge" or "gate way" for authentication of the policy.From time immemorial, there has been traditional trans-border-trade between the two nations.
The location of Manipur's (Moreh) on Indian side, bordering (Namphalong market) Myanmar and across the proposed South-East-Asia corridor significantly provides a very unique position to act as “Gateway” to the South-East Asia. As such the Look East Policy of India looks not only at the South East Asia but also meaningfully at the North Eastern Region; particularly Manipur. The indispensability of the "border states" has been taken note of. Government of India, in response to this emerging imperative, has created a new department called Department of Border Development under Ministry of Home Affairs, India.
Recently, a study conducted by the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi reveals that the volume of trade between India and Myanmar could easily be raised to Rs.2000 crore a year once road communication is improved and proper banking and exchange facilities are put in place in Moreh (Manipur) and Champai (Mizoram).
After the signing of the Indo-Myanmar Border Trade Agreement, 1994-95, Manipur is on the gaining side since the states can import high quality low price commodities from border market from Burma. Due to frequent highways blockades which connects Manipur with other northeast states describing as the vital route that provide essential commodities to the states, make to suffer. The prolonged economic blockades make lives measurable in Manipur even after constant efforts to suppress the illegal act. Road connectivity between India and Myanmar roughly of 384 km will be established, which in future will propagates development of road transport, trade, investment, tourism and transit of goods and people across the border, the service will connect Imphal in Manipur and Mandalay in Myanmar.
The bus service will operate on Mondays. At the cross border check points passengers of both countries will be shifted to vehicles of their own country, this exchange will take place at Moreh (India) and Tamu (Myanmar) and it has been left to the local authorities to decide on convenient stoppage points on each route in consultation with operators. These are the institutionalized agendas that will profit Manipur and other Northeast states and in final conclusion a bold and understanding step of helping hand instigated by India.
Overhead developments with Burma can be appreciated as impact of India’s “Look East” policy to balance China’s influence in the region that will start to pay off at India’s favor. Not only in the case of improving bilateral trade relation with Burma. India believes with an understanding relation idealizing Burmese government will help to curb anti-social activities generated by Northeast Insurgencies from its soil. With Chinese increasing influence in Burma and it strategical passage link to Bay of Bengal, India must assured to maintain improving relations so that a proper initiation towards Southeast Asian could successfully mustered. Not only India should pay attention for infrastructural development and getting benefit from natural resources especially gas from Burma. India must maintain a balance of trade to pick up its loss awareness during 90’s after sanction imposed due to Burmese severe military rule and human right violation. In brief India and Burma have to integrate their individual issues in mandate to maximize beneficial gains to emerge as good neighbours at the assimilating segment of South Asia and Southeast Asia.