Time & Location
Dec 23, 2021, 8:00 PM
About the Event
The sudden overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi-led national government in Myanmar by the military shattered hopes of the country’s transition from an isolated state into a robust democracy, integrated into global trade and economy. For India it has created a dilemma. On the one hand there is the Junta government, a violent regime ruthlessly crushing all political dissent and trampling on human rights. Hundreds of civilians have been murdered and thousands have been illegally detained. On the other, there are the democracy activists risking their livelihoods and lives standing up to the junta. Who should India side with?
As a nation that prides itself in being the largest democracy on earth, India was generally expected to support the democratic protests of Myanmar. But India has so far remained silent, failing to even condemn the coup. Perhaps it fears further instability in Myanmar could significantly increase the in-flow of refugees into India’s Northeast region, where immigration is already a politically sensitive issue. China’s oversized influence in Myanmar is also a concern for India. Antagonizing the military dictatorship may push them even closer towards China, resulting in unfavorable implications for India’s security.
However, acknowledging the legitimacy of the Junta government is also not an appealing option for India, which has been lately positioning itself as the democratic alternative to China for regional leadership. Reluctance to speak up against the brutal suppression of democracy next door raises serious questions about India’s commitment to democracy and human rights, and its ability to influence its immediate neighbourhood, let alone the broader region.
Supporting the restoration of democracy would certainly raise India’s international standing, but would risk getting entangled in Myanmar’s prolonged civil war. After having a decade of efforts and investments wiped out in Afghanistan, India can hardly be enthusiastic about getting involved in the internal affairs of another troubled neighbour.
As difficult as the situation might be, is doing nothing the best course of action? Is India’s silence a well conceived strategic choice to wait-and-watch or is it simply inaction resulting from not knowing what to do?
We believe this subject has not received the media attention and public discussion it deserves. It is our humble contribution to organise a live debate among experts with a deep understanding of international affairs and more specifically the Myanmar situation. We believe your informed views and experience driven insights will help in bringing about more awareness around this issue.