A bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia, Myanmar has loomed large on India’s diplomatic horizon. Blending business, culture and diplomacy, there is a strong connect between the two countries. Buddhism, Business, Bollywood, Bharatanatyam and Burmese Teak are the five Bs that
frame India-Myanmar relations in popular imagination. Moving beyond this rich configuration, the relations are now acquiring greater economic weight and strategic orientation.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Myanmar comes days after the foreign office consultations between the two countries in New Delhi that saw the two sides discussing an entire gamut of bilateral issues, including trade and investment, energy and development cooperation. The talks in Nay Pi Taw, the new capital of Myanmar, will set the stage for Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the Southeast Asian country in November for the India-ASEAN summit and East Asia Summit. The importance of Myanmar for India is all-too-obvious: India and Myanmar share a long land border of over 1600 km and a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal. Nurturing all-round relations with Myanmar is crucial to the economic transformation of India’s north-eastern states. Myanmar is also critical to India’s national security. The two countries have sealed a pact to share real time intelligence to combat Indian insurgents operating out of the border region. The pact envisages the conduct of coordinated patrols on each side of the border and maritime boundary and entails exchange of information to jointly combat insurgency, arms smuggling and drug, human and wildlife trafficking.
The bilateral relations, underpinned by the 1951 Treaty of Friendship, have stood the test of time and shown a rare dynamism and resilience.