The friendship between India and Myanmar is age-old and has stood the test of time. Both countries have many things in common as they share strong historical, cultural, religious and trade ties. People from both countries developed and managed to sustain trust and cordial relations so far. It can be gauged from the fact that not a single case of conflict has been reported yet though both countries share over 1,600-km land border and maritime border in the Bay of Bengal.
Now India can be seen providing help to Myanmar to combat the Covid-19 besides ensuring regular financial assistance for infrastructure development. India came to Myanmar’s rescue by providing test kits and other medical equipment in the Covid-19 pandemic.
India gave 3,000 vials of Remdesivir, an intravenous antiviral drug. Later, India provided a gift of 1.5 million doses of Covid vaccines to Myanmar as part of the “Vaccine Maitri” initiative as well as pledged to ensure the supply of 30 million doses.
India expressed concerns over the military coup of 2021 but cleared that it would not affect the humanitarian assistance saying both countries “are neighbours with close cultural and people-to-people ties.”
Link India has called Myanmar an important pillar in its important ‘Neighbourhood First’ Policy and promised to extend all kinds of support to help overcome economic and health challenges.
India has been building roads and bridges, schools, and healthcare centres in Myanmar under the India-Myanmar Border Area Development Programme. The annual grant of USD 5 million has elevated the lives of people living in around 82 villages in Myanmar.
India is building USD 484 million Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project that will connect India’s Kolkata port with Myanmar’s Sittwe port, promoting regional connectivity and development as these projects would create employment opportunities in Myanmar, especially in the conflict-ridden Chin and Rakhine provinces.
Moreover, India has decided to provide debt service relief under the G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative to help Myanmar lower the negative impacts of Covid-19. Myanmar accounted for 50 per cent of arms exported from India.
In 2021, Myanmar also received a remote-controlled, air-defence station from India, which would improve its capability to counter the enemy’s airborne penetration. In order to boost its naval power, Myanmar was gifted a submarine by India in 2020.
“The Buddha relic comes from India, the birthplace of Buddhism. The Buddha spent 45 years in India. Therefore, this is a very significant sign of the peace and stronger relationship between the two countries — Myanmar and India,” said Buddhist monk Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche.
India is a big place of pilgrimage for the people of Myanmar. India and Myanmar were a part of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – a forum of countries that decide not to align with any power block post-World War II. India’s Look East Policy has had a special place for Myanmar for its crucial geostrategic location. India has been building a variety of projects ranging from building railway lines, and hydroelectric plants to establishing education institutes to oil exploration to developing multimodal corridors. Now both countries are pushing for greater cooperation in the field of trade and security as they tend to get benefitted.