VIF Delegation’s Visit to Myanmar
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A VIF delegation led by Director, Gen NC Vij and comprising of Lt. Gen. Ravi Sawhney, Amb Ashok Kantha and Brig Vinod Anand visited Myanmar from 23 to 25 October 2016. Mr. NMP Jayesh ex-Singapore, an expert on trade and commerce represented the CII. The delegation interacted with Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (MISIS), leaders of National League for Democracy, Deputy Commandant and faculty of National Defence College and high level officials of Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Naypidaw.

Amb. Nyunt Maung Shein, Director MISIS, Yangon, and other senior members of the think-tank interacted with the VIF delegation for over three hours on the question of India-Myanmar relations and the way forward. It was brought out that though the Indian government’s policies were quite satisfactory, the expectations from India were much more. Earlier the Myanmar people were used to Indian goods and Indian way of life but now Chinese have more to offer to them. China provided loans, supported Myanmar in international arena and the people became more used to Chinese goods. While the new government in Myanmar has to be on good terms with China it is also reviving its relations with India. After the elections, the Indian External Affairs Minister was expected to visit but the Chinese Foreign Affairs visited Mayanmar first. Compared to China, India is seen as slow to react and slow in implementation of projects/policies. The recent two high level visits by Myanmar leaders to India have strengthened the mutual relationship; however, more needed to be done.

The VIF delegation highlighted the push being given by PM Modi to India’s ‘Act East Policy’ and various initiatives that have been taken pursuant to India’s ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’, and pointed out that Myanmar is at the fulcrum of these two policy initiatives.

The VIF delegation also interacted with H.E. Thura Tin Oo (former General), Patron and Chairman of ‘National League for Democracy’ (NLD) on 24 October afternoon. Among other important members of NLD, Secretary, Economic Committee and Chairman Farmer Affairs Committee, who is also an NLD MP, were present for the discussions. The NLD leaders highlighted their belief in principles of non-violence, good neighborly relations and welcomed India’s support to NLD’s struggle for democracy. Myanmar was at the threshold of democracy and subscribed to the principles of Panchsheel in her foreign policy, they added. They also shared that the NLD was in the process of building the younger generation for leadership positions. Delving further, they pointed out that the recent visit of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to India demonstrates the strengthening of Indo-Myanmar relations and that the NLD looks towards India for help in improving infrastructure, agriculture and technologies in various fields.
Mr. Tin Oo further pointed out that previous military government’s approach to India was different now our policy is more transparent and we are reaching out to India. New Delhi stood up for democracy and a made a good choice when the government was getting closer to China. However, peace process remains very important and we have started our dialogue with all the stakeholders. There are many complications and conflicting demands of ethnic groups and differences on the nature of federalism that is acceptable to all. We will be holding another peace conference after six months to address all these issues.

The VIF delegation highlighted India’s efforts in strengthening relationship with Myanmar and continued support for democracy in Myanmar. On the question of export to India of large quantity of pulses and beans to India the Myanmar side had pointed out volatility and instability in the prices. Amb. Kantha suggested that India could go in for a Minimum Support Price for import of pulses from Myanmar; there could be some understanding between the two governments on this aspect.

The VIF Delegation visited Myanmar National Defence College at Naypidaw on 25 October and interacted with Deputy Commandant and faculty. Brig. La Than Maung explained about the objectives of NDC which could be said to be similar to that of India’s NDC. He also mentioned about last year’s visit of NDC course’s tour to India as part of their training. Though he explained very briefly about the insurgency, ethnic and security problems along the borders he was not very forthcoming about the military’s approach to the Peace and Reconciliation process being promoted by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD.

On 25 October the VIF delegation also visited Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and had interaction with Mr. Soe Lynn Han, Director General of Strategic Studies and Training Department, Mr. Kya Moe Tin, DG of International Organizations and Economic Department and other officials. The following points emerged.

Gen. NC Vij after explaining about the VIF’s objectives outlined as to how Myanmar was the lynchpin of PM Modi’s Act East Policy. He also emphasized on the cultural, religious and civilizational links between both the nations.

Mr. Kya Moe Tin explained about Myanmar’s relations with international community in general and the evolving relationship with India in particular. He condemned the Uri terrorist attacks and also dwelt upon terror attacks in Rakhine state where nine policemen were killed. He underlined the need for addressing the issues of security and development and therefore necessity of sharing good practices and experience on these aspects. Amb. Ashok Kantha mentioned that two state visits in recent weeks by Myanmar top leaders have given boost to the bilateral relationship and both share common views on terrorism.

Event Date 
October 23, 2016
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