India Myanmar Relations

India and Myanmar have traditionally had much in common, with cultural, historical, ethnic and religious ties, in addition to sharing a long geographical land border and maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.

Importance of Myanmar for India

    • Cultural, historical, ethnic and religious ties
    • To tackle insurgency in North-East – “a large number of cross-border ethnic groups and insurgents from Northeast India have military bases in Myanmar
    • For Economic development of North- East – Act east policy – Myanmar lies at tri-junction of east, southeast and south Asia
    • Strategically important to India as it is the only ASEAN country that shares a border with India
    • India is eying Myanmar’s abundant oil and natural gas” reserves to meet her energy requirements
    • Myanmar, a rapidly growing economy, offers significant opportunities for trade in goods and services, investment and project exports.
    • ASEAN + BIMSTEC +Mekong Ganga Cooperation – Forum they share together
    • In addition to a land border, both countries also share a long maritime boundary in the strategically significant Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal where they face common challenges, which include not just a rising China but illegal fishing and smuggling.


Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project

The project will connect the seaport of Kolkata with Sittwe seaport in Myanmar by sea; it will then link Sittwe seaport to Lashio in Myanmar via Kaladan river boat route & then from Lashio on to Mizoram in India by road transport.

Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project

  • Will reduce distance from Kolkata to Mizoram by approximately 1000 km and cut travelling time to 3-4 days for transport of goods.
  • Necessary in case of any conflict with China as present route i.e. chicken neck could be blocked by China in conflict situation.
  • The access to the sea that the project provides its Northeastern states could boost their economies.
  • It would strengthen India’s trade and transport links with Southeast Asia.
  • It will be instrumental for “act-east policy”


India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway

India’s renewed commitment to complete the 3,200-km India-Asean trilateral highway that extends from Moreh in India to Mae Sot in Thailand via Mandalay, Myanmar



  • Discontent over continuing delay in completion of flagship projects
  • Kaladan and India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway – Conceived over a decade back, they are scheduled to be completed by 2019.
  • In addition to a land border, both countries also share a long maritime boundary in the strategically significant Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal where they face common challenges, which include not just a rising China but illegal fishing and smuggling.


Rohingya Muslims Issues

More than one million people in Myanmar identify as Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim group living mainly in Rakhine State on the country’s western coast. These people lack documentation to satisfy the constitutional requirement that their ancestors settled in the country before 1823.

  • Since 2016 Myanmar’s army has carried out clearance operationsin the north of the western state to root out insurgents accused of deadly raids on police border posts.
  • UN human rights office said that Myanmar’s security forces had committed mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya Muslims and burned their villages.



  • Many Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, alleging rape, murder and torture at the hands of security forces. A large number of those escaping the violence end up in the trafficking networks.
  • The persecuted Rohingya Muslims are likely to provide fertile recruiting grounds for extremists.
  • Bangladesh fears that Islamist hard-liners, who staunchly support the Rohingya Muslims, are trying to exploit the situation for their political benefits.
  • Some sections of the Rohingyas have formed armed guerilla groups in Rakhine to fight Myanmar’s Army and operate along the mountainous border.
  • Despite Myanmar’s transition towards democracy, the country’s government refuses to address the issue.


The Rohingya crisis is a political issue in Myanmar. The ultimate solution lies in the granting citizenship and ensuring equal rights in their ancestral home. Until a permanent solution is found in Myanmar, it is the responsibility of refugee hosting countries, including Bangladesh, to ensure that Rohingya people can live with basic human rights and dignity.

International community needs to play more proactive role in resolving present crisis. Due to lack of economic interest in Myanmar, western world is not very enthusiastic to resolve the crisis and deals it as internal problem of Myanmar.

India Yearbook English India Yearbook Hindi Economic Survey 2017

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