India’s Handshake moment with a Democratic Myanmar
The Indo-Burmese relationship has always been marked by cordiality and mutual respect. Since the time of Burmese independence in 1948 to till today, India has often stood as reliable neighbor which showed the exemplary and novel ideas of democracy and secularism to Myanmar. Even during the times of political turmoils that Myanmar witnessed under military coups and near to dictatorship rule, India maintained its brethren attitude. More often, with the power of soft diplomacy, India could advice the military junta to adopt democratic principles for its governance.
Now with the landslide victory of Aung San Syu Ki’s National League for Democracy, in the first normal elections after long 19 years, the world is looking forward to a smooth power transfer from the junta to the party. Though Prime Minister Than Shwe has said that he is all for the restoration of democratic process in the country, and will maintain the political decorum by supporting a just constitution,many speculate that the coexistence wont be free of friction.
The newly proposed constitution is expected of including provisions for an independent election commission,supreme court and other constitutional and non-constitutional bodies. However the junta enshrines roles for the military in the executive and legislative branches in it. It is apprehended that any NLD attempt to alter this could face resistance.This in fact bears a resemblance to Sukarto’s administration in Indonesia, where both civilian and military officialdom coexisted.
As the coming days are to reveal the colors of power transition, India has ample time and space to exert its influence over the country and take the relationship to a higher level. Restoration of democratic institutions could help much in solving various issues along the border, like illegal migration, militancy, drug trafficking etc. It will also be beneficial in integrating the trade and business ties in the South East Asia region. Strategically India could also monitor the expansion of Chinese presence in the subcontinent. Undoubtedly, there is much work for Indian diplomats and academicians to develop policies that can harness the democratic potential between the neighbors.