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SHOULD INDIA SUPPORT RESTORATION OF DEMOCRACY IN MYANMAR ?

Updated: Jan 5, 2022



EVENT DATE : 23 DECEMBER


• Dr. Nalapat began the debate by arguing that a country should not just look like a democracy but should also act like a democracy and this includes supporting democratic movements in other parts of the world. He strongly hopes that India does not recognize the Military government in Myanmar. He also believes that it is in India's benefit to have more democracy in South Asia. He also mentions Aung San Suu Kyi's connections to India and states that we need to voice our opposition to how she is being treated by the Junta. He strongly believes that India needs to be louder in its support for democracy in Myanmar. He states that India needs to "speak up" for democracy and that it is in the Myanmar military's interests to not sever its links with India. He says that India needs to act as a democratic country, otherwise people will question our democratic credentials. It is in India’s security interests for us to have stable democracies in South Asia.


• Ms. Manchanda states that India must never support non-democratic forces in Myanmar. She argues that even from a pragmatic or realist point of view, it is in India's interest and benefit to have democracy in Myanmar. She says that the history of Myanmar suggests that military repression and military aggression has never worked. She also argues that if India is seen as being aligned with the Military junta, we will lose all the goodwill we have generated in the region.


• Dr. Bajpai however is in support of the Indian government's stance on Myanmar. He believes that the Indian government has got it correct and that we do not need to loudly voice out opposition to the military government in order for us to be pro-democracy. He also says that it would not be a very good idea to accuse the Junta of being pro-China, as this would only push them into China's corner. He says that we need to focus more on providing aid and vaccines for the people of Myanmar, which will generate more goodwill towards our country. He says that in Myanmar, "the MEA has more or less got it right". His argument is that all over the world, countries are reluctant to interfere in the affairs of other countries, this is because if we start speaking about the affairs of other countries, there will come a time when other countries will start interfering in our affairs and this will not end well for us. He strongly places his bets on the UN special envoy to solve the issue. He says India has not stood up for democracy in many parts of the world, why should we suddenly get excited about Myanmar and speak now? He says that India can support the restoration of democracy in Myanmar, without mentioning too much about Aung San Suu Kyi.

• Dr Laksmana says that India, Japan and other regional players were trying to buy time by not taking sides openly and were waiting for ASEAN to take the center stage. He says that countries which actually have the leverage in the region are not able to effectively work together. However, the same set of questions that haunted ASEAN during the beginning of the coup, still haunts them today, they still do not have a blueprint on how they can resolve the crisis. They are not too sure if they should negotiate it or if they should pick a side and wait it out. Another issue is that ASEAN does not have enough leverage in Myanmar. He says that if countries are serious about supporting democratic values in Myanmar, they need to first recognize the exiled government of the country- the NUG government. It is one thing to say we are in favor of civilian rule, but countries need to walk the talk and recognize an exiled civilian government. He also feels that the rest of the world finds it convenient to leave the dirty work to ASEAN countries rather than doing the diplomatic work themselves. He also says that the different players in the conflict all have different endgames. Moreover, every solution that has come from the diplomatic circles in the region has an expiration date. He says that whenever there is some issue relating to Myanmar, it is somehow always expected of the ASEAN countries to speak out first.


• Ms Manchanda argues that India does not have a refugee policy and our refugee policy is sometimes discriminatory. She explains that the Chin Refugees were given refugees in Mizoram, even though the Central Government did not really support them and instead wanted a push back. The state government policy and the central government policy was therefore very different. She also states that a destabilized Myanmar is not in China's interest.


• The discussion then moved to economic interests and the Indian response to the coup in Myanmar. Ms Manchanda argues that investments will mean nothing if Myanmar is in a constant state of war and conflict. While the Indian government does need to secure economic interests in the region, our economic interests will make no sense in the region, if the region is in a constant state of war.


• Dr. Nalapat says the people of Myanmar will win eventually and democracy will be restored. We need to therefore strongly support the people and the democratic movement in Myanmar. Dr. Bajpai however disagrees and says that the situation is very complex and a country to move from military rule to a democratic country is very difficult and will not happen smoothly, he also states that we must not romanticize the people of Myanmar and democracy is not something that will easily emerge, for all we know, the junta could become more anti-democratic.


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