India and Myanmar both are of tremendous strategic and economic importance for each other. Myanmar is the meeting point of South Asia, East Asia and South East Asia. India sees it as a gateway to ASEAN countries and therefore Myanmar holds a significant position both in India’s Look East Policy (LEP) and its collaboration with the ASEAN countries. Here, the North-East region is of great potential since it shares international border with the neighboring Bangladesh, Myanmar, and ASEAN in general and so, the North-East needs to be connected more densely with Bangladesh, Myanmar, and the ASEAN region. This will require building infrastructure—roads, railway lines, river transport, airports, tourism infrastructure, border check-posts, educational, and health infrastructure, etc. in the North-East on an imperative basis.
In order to make LEP a success, the Government of India (GOI) needs to invest judiciously in the region. Again, it has not been so long when Myanmar opened it up to the outside world and for this reason Myanmar needs to be cautious of getting lured or exploited by other countries. Since, India was one of the leading supporters of Burmese independence and also the first to set up diplomatic relations after Myanmar (then Burma) gained freedom from Great Britain in 1948, so India has almost always been a friend and partner of Myanmar. Today the key areas which form the relationship between India and Myanmar are Information and Technology, agriculture, food processing, forestry, mini hydel power plant, textile, tourism, pharmaceutical fertilizers, transport and natural gas and oil.
By identifying the need of development and prosperity of the people in the bordering areas, the GOI and the Myanmar government have agreed to cooperate to bring about overall social and economic development in the border areas by undertaking both infrastructure growth and micro-economic projects. Their consensus has also encompassed development of roads, construction of schools, health centers, bridges, agriculture related training activities in this areas in accordance with the MoU on India-Myanmar Border Area Development (signed between both the governments on May 2012). Undoubtedly, both countries have different successful projects in the fields of infrastructure, agriculture and irrigation, human resource development, industrial development etc and also expressed their commitment to enhance cooperation in the field of science and technology.
‘Education’ is such as an asset that each individual strives to receive to make one potent in today’s competitive world. The main intention is to emphasize the importance of cooperation in Education, Research and Training in bolstering the Indo-Myanmar relationship. It will be of great benefit to this growing rapport if more ‘Students Exchange Programme’ in Bachelors and Masters level at universities are launched that will encourage face to face interaction, cultural exchanges and mingling of ideas and knowledge. Joint research and training initiatives between both the countries should be adopted in the field of social science research, agricultural biotechnology and medical research that will works as a catalyst in their mounting relationship. In this context, the GOI has provided financial and technical assistance to Myanmar to set up Myanmar Institute of Information Technology in accordance to a MoU signed on 2012 between both the countries.
The Indian Prime Minister also announced technical and financial support for the India-Myanmar Centre for enhancement of IT skill in Yangon. To uphold and augment the Indo-Myanmar relationship among the new generation, the governments should introduce fellowship agenda to work in university and research institutes in areas such as Earth sciences, chemical sciences, physical sciences etc that the produced output can be worthwhile for development of the nations.
India has always been in the forefront in providing assistance to Myanmar in the field of Training and Education. India considers the Myanmar request in arranging training curriculum in the areas of dairy development, cattle breeding, vaccine technology and assisting in setting up a milk product factory in Shan state of Myanmar. Towards the commitment to enhance agricultural cooperation, both the countries have decided to establish the Advanced Centre for Agricultural Research and Education as a Centre for excellence with the financial and technical assistance from India. Hence, their mutual establishments will provide technological and research inputs to the Myanmar farming, academic and business communities. It is a good indication that India and Myanmar are eager to establish think tanks and academic institutions and urge scholars to participate actively and exchange views in academic events held in either country.
Above all, the most important part is the adequate and convenient connection between India and Myanmar to promote people-to-people contacts, educational and cultural cooperation, border areas development, and the development of tourism infrastructure.
There is a positive hope for a strapping bond between the two countries as they share a common commitment to fight the scourge of terrorism and insurgent activity in all forms and manifestations.