International Relations


Vinay Kwatra, the foreign minister of India, travelled to Myanmar for two days from November 20 to 21. According to a press release from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), he met with members of the military junta that is currently in charge of the nation and spoke with them about infrastructure development, issues relating to human trafficking (of which several Indian citizens have been victims), and security and stability in border regions.

Interpretations over the foreign Secretary’s visit

  • Discussion of cordial relations is stated on Myanmar’s national portal as follows: The two parties held talks about improving relations between Myanmar and India and discussed opinions on how to advance their bilateral cooperation and carry out Myanmar’s peace process, according to the Myanmar National Portal.
  • India’s interest in seeing Myanmar return to the democratic path, the release of political prisoners, and other difficult topics were not mentioned in the MEA statement.
  • Accent on finishing ongoing projects: On the other hand, the foreign secretary mentioned continued Indian support for “people-centric socio-economic development projects” and the early completion of connectivity projects like the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project and the Trilateral Highway between India, Myanmar, and Thailand.
  • Kwatra reassured the Myanmar junta about initiatives under the Rakhine State Development Program and Border Area Development Program, suggesting that infrastructure and development projects were a major focus during the visit.
  • Contradictory omissions: MEA spokeswoman Arindam Bagchi tweeted that the foreign secretary had discussions on various critical matters, including “India’s support to democratic transition in Myanmar,” despite the MEA news release not mentioning it.


  • India’s interest in Myanmar’s restoration of democracy, according to the MEA’s 2021 statement: In contrast, the MEA released a statement in December 2021 after then-Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla visited, in which he emphasised India’s interest in seeing Myanmar return to democracy as soon as possible, the release of prisoners and detainees, the resolution of disputes through dialogue, and the end to all forms of violence.
  • India’s steadfast and resolute support for ASEAN Additionally, he reaffirmed India’s unwavering support for the ASEAN initiative and expressed the expectation that, based on the five-point consensus, progress would be made in a practical and positive manner.

India’s concerns

  • As a result of various criminal gangs operating a racket recruiting Indian citizens with false job possibilities, human trafficking has become a significant problem in Myanmar. According to media reports, the MEA official advised Indian nationals to be cautious of trafficking. Indian labourers were recruited by IT businesses under the guise of jobs in Thailand and subsequently transported to Myanmar. According to reports, close to 200 Indian people have fallen for this job scam.
  • Support from China for the Military Junta China has strengthened ties with the military junta since the military takeover, giving the Myanmar leadership the much-needed support it needs in the face of international criticism.
  • High Chinese investment in Myanmar: According to reports, China has been a major foreign investor in Myanmar. The numerous projects being undertaken by China include a number of dams and high-speed rail lines, as well as a $2.5 billion investment in a gas-fired power plant. The cost of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, which consists of infrastructure development projects including gas and oil pipelines, is in the billions of millions.
  • China wants to have easier access to the Indian Ocean. The deep sea port that China proposes to build at Kyaukphyu, on Myanmar’s west coast, is of particular significance to China since it may improve its access to the Indian Ocean, which China has been seeking for some time.
  • Concern over the developing friendship between Pakistan and Myanmar: After signing a contract with Pakistan two years earlier in 2016, Myanmar reportedly received six JF-17 light-weight multi-role fighter jets from that country in 2018. The delivery date for Myanmar’s further order of 10 aircraft is uncertain.

Why India’s interest in Myanmar’s transition to democracy has altered

  • A combination of pragmatism and China’s expanding influence and incursions into Myanmar may have led India to abandon its moralising about democracy and step up its engagement with Naypyidaw.
  • While Myanmar’s pro-democracy groups and India’s strategic allies in ASEAN may not be particularly pleased with this approach, especially after India abandoned ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus on Myanmar, it seems that New Delhi believes it has few other options.


India’s increased cooperation with the military junta appears to be motivated by strategic considerations, including concern over Chinese and Pakistani intrusions. Dealing with the governing military junta requires India to strike a delicate balance.

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