Bharat backs Burma, bad!

Burma is in the midst of its largest protests against the military junta since 1988, when the government crushed the pro-democracy movement by killing at least 3,000 people.

The current wave of protests reached its peak on Monday, when red-clad monks led a demonstration of over 50,000 people in the capital, with protests happening in 24 other towns around the country as well. In response, the junta imposed a curfew and has shot at least two protestors who defied the orders.

The only countries with real influence over Burma are its neighbors: China, India and Thailand. Neither China nor Thailand are democratic, so I hadn’t expected much from them, but I have been really disappointed in India’s response.

“It is too early to say anything,” said an Indian Foreign Ministry official, who did not want to be named. [Link]

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p>India is not just staying quiet, it’s supporting the Burmese government economically and militarily:

India’s biggest company, the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, is to invest £75m in exploring for gas off the coast of Burma, despite the swell of pro-democracy protests against the country’s military regime. The deal signed on Monday highlighted how Burma has exploited the energy needs of its two biggest neighbours, India and China, to weaken western sanctions. [Link]

That’s right, the state run oil and gas corporation signed a deal with the Burmese government on the very same day when 50,000 demonstrators were in the streets of the capital. That sends a very clear message about which side they’re on. Here’s an in-your face interpretation of India’s actions in a political cartoon (also below the fold).

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p>Furthermore, the GOI has been consistent in its refusal to criticize the Burmese government:

Earlier this month the Indian foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, refused to put pressure on the Burmese junta to take steps towards democracy. “The cardinal principle of our foreign policy is non-interference in the domestic affairs of any country,” he told reporters in Bangkok. [Link]

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p>Why this cowardice / realpolitik?

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p>For one thing, India wants Burma’s help fighting rebels on their shared border. In return for this help, they are helping Burma bypass the EU arms embargo, and even helping train the Burmese military. This is pretty heavy support.

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p>The other is that India wants Burmese natural gas, and is afraid that China will take advantage of it if they do not. So both to feed their own economy, and to block China’s, they are willing to make deals with the junta and leave the Burmese people to … fend for themselves against the military that they have helped to arm and train. Given that the Burmese military is a almost a half a million strong (just a smidge smaller than the American active duty Army), it’s hardly a fair fight.

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p>Hmmm – a powerful country that puts security and energy above human rights and principle. Hmmmm ….. never heard that one before.

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p>Related posts: Realpolitik with Burma, An Important Message, Which Has Nothing to do with Spelling

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p>Update:

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p>The material below – both the facts and the rude political cartoon were taken from a Human Rights in Burma website.

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Facts about Burma:

  • One of the highest levels of forced labour in the world.
  • Rape is used as a weapon of war against ethnic women and children.
  • More than 1,100 political prisoners, many of whom are routinely tortured.
  • More child soldiers than any other country in the world.
  • Nearly half the government budget spent on the military.
  • One in ten babies dying before their fifth birthday.
  • Over 60% of Burmese people living in poverty. [Link]

147 thoughts on “Bharat backs Burma, bad!

  1. The biggest player in Burma energy mix is not ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Commission).

    Neither is China

    It is Total, the French National Oil Company.

    Chevron, through the legacy of Unocal is involved too.

  2. “The Saudi government is not very nice, but it does not use forced labor, nor does it use rape as a weapon of war.”

    You should perhaps read some of these reports. http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/fs/2005/50861.htm http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/03/AR2005060301530.html http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1&section=0&article=100852&d=6&m=9&y=2007 http://gvnet.com/humantrafficking/Ethiopia.htm http://usinfo.state.gov/gi/Archive/2005/Jun/03-427685.html

    Some of them even bring this strange disease over to the US.
    http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/03/31/forced_labor_charges_for_saudi_princes_wife/

    You may be right about the actual government not having the policy of using forced labor, but it acquiesces in its subjects’ use of the same.

    Also the Saudi’s are not in a state of war, so they can’t use rape as a weapon of war. The House of Saud should not get credit for their people being compliant in their own oppression. If, for example, the Shia’s in Saudi Arabia start getting riled up, then I guarantee you will see the worst forms of abuse.

  3. lots of comments here calling for india to be involved in the struggle for democracy by the people of myanmar. i dont get it. i feel sorry for them, but hey, the people of burma have to fight their own battles. its not india’s business to sell democracy to the rest of the world. we’ve fought once in sri lanka, and what happened there? as a tax payer i would deeply resent my money being poured down the drain in a foreign country’s problems. india has enough problems at home. we dont need to bear the weight of the world. the guiding principle for a nation’s foreign policy is largely its own continuing economic success. getting involved there doesnt make money sense for india…yet.

  4. Odd how people demonize others and create caricatures without ever paying attention to the substantive nature of their discussions. To sweep under the rug the desires of millions of people within India. Various minority communities within India, especially those on the periphery (Kashmir, Punjab, Assam, Nagaland) have at various times called for greater states’ rights. Some flag-waving Indian nationalists, without seeking to address their claims and grievances, sweep them aside and liken them to the Taliban and the Nazis. So much for civil discussion….

    As far as democracy goes…does voter count make one a democracy? Few in India outside the urban elites see much of an ‘India Shining.’

    But still aside, does it strike anyone else how people can talk so brazenly about human lives…. What is the value of a human life? Or is it something expendable in the totalitarian drive towards ‘national interests.’ Do the people of the Narmada valley fall under this rubric as well? Seems that Professor Robert Altemeyer would have a lot to comment about NRI authoritarians. For a fascinating read, you can find his book on .pdf format at http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

  5. In response to 108:

    When people from Kashmir, Punjab, Assam, Nagaland as you keep harping about, resort to blowing up innocent men, women and children in the name of some misguided Freedom Movement, they are no different from the Nazis or the Taliban.

    As for human lives being expendable, it is unfortunate but it happens and there is no way around it. As a Govt., you try to avoid it but given the fate of 1 billion people vs say 10 people guess who wins, the decision that is better for the 1 billion.

    I know it all sounds different when you are among the 10 who have to die and, if I were ever in that situation, I am sure I would beg and grovel for my life to be spared. The truth of the matter is it will not be.

    So get real and deal with it!!

    As for the Dalits, there is so much reservation in India today that it is next to impossible to study what you want to if you are not in the top 1% or not an Untouchable. Affirmative action at its best. What do you have to say now that the tables have been turned? The Untouchables have it all and the rest have nothing so here we are in the United States trying to live the American Dream :-)

    And before you comment on what I said about the Dalits, keep in mind that I actually had and continue to be very good friends with people who were SC/ST/BC and any other 2 letter acronym that the GOI could give them…….

  6. Rahul:

    the people of burma have to fight their own battles. its not india’s business to sell democracy to the rest of the world.

    As I said, breathtakingly stupid. The idea that India is standing by innocently, doing nothing is a joke. If you really want the Burmese to fight their own battles, then stop allowing those degerates who rule Burma to bank in, trade with, and receive investments from India. And anyway, India once did support the democratic stuggle in Burma–in 1988. Forget about “selling democracy.” Just grow a spine and try to do the right thing. Live up to the ideals that Indians established for THEMSELVES in founding their country. Get it?

  7. “To Indianajones: it’s Axom (if you absolutely feel you’d rather not write “Assam”) :-) “Ahom” is the name of one of the several communities that comprise Assam.”

    GB, are you Assamese? If you were Im sure you would have known that Assam is pronounced “Ahom”. I dont “absolutely” feel the need to write “Ahom” I wrote it because thats the way i normally pronounce it. If you would had read my previous comments you would have seen that i have written it as Assam as well. So stop nitpicking and while you’re at it could you do a favour and stop with this “name of one of the several communities that comprise Assam” rant. You’re not the only one knows about history and demography so cut it out.

  8. All knowing sage , although I dont feel Rahul has written his comment very articulately, he does have a point somewhere when he writes “we’ve fought once in sri lanka, and what happened there?” India was in a BIG mess after that and had to deal with a gazillion problems after that- and for a person who has been in the print media covering those stories, I cant being to tell you the number of horror stories that we came across. We were at a loss not only because of language problems- thanks to the goverment which never took language barrier as a serious problem- but also in the war tactics apllied by the LTTE and their guerilla warfare. There is a saying in hindi that goes “a person once burnt from hot milk, blows on buttermilk too at least a hundered times before drinking it.” (sorry coundt find better words to frame it) … maybe this is what is going on in the goverment’s mind as well. Supporting Burma is not the same as sending peacekeeping forces to Sudan.

  9. DOES THIS NOT MAKE YOU PROUD AS AN INDIAN?

    In 1988, when the military was butchering your Burmese students – and the world was largely unaware – it was the Indian embassy in Rangoon that opened its doors and sheltered some of the students and assuredly saved their lives. India was the nation that first alerted the world to the atrocity that was happening in Burma – we were there!

    Were we a richer nation then? NO! Did we have unlimited gas and oil at our disposal ? NO!! Did we have a large and poor population that needed resources ? YES – even mroe so than today.

    Yet we did the right thing – and how many of you can look back and say that because of this the nation suffered, we got poorer and oil was scarce? None, I would assume.

    FAST FORWARD TO 2007… and India is richer, has more resources (certainly enough to pour arms into Burma) and is acknowledged as one of the pivotal nations that can help the Burmese people. And what do we do? We help the junta by supplying the guns and ammo that is used to gun down the protesting monk on the streets of Rangoon.

    SO HOW MANY OF YOU ARE PROUD NOW?

    One never does the right thing because it is convenient and non-disruptive. One does it inspite of the fact that its inconvenient and possibly dangerous – because it is the right thing to do.

    There will always be nations competing for resources, smarter guys who do it better than our bumbling government, quick deals forged by our competitors that leave us on the sidelines – but at least we do it with our heads held high – otherwise we reduce ourselves to being AN ALSO-RAN CHINA CLONE.

  10. “One never does the right thing because it is convenient and non-disruptive. One does it inspite of the fact that its inconvenient and possibly dangerous – because it is the right thing to do.”

    We are running a Government here not an NGO. Talk is cheap. It will do good to remember that if India has progressed and changed in the past two decades, so have other countries including its neighbours and so have situations and world politics. “Flower Power” days are long gone.

    “We help the junta by supplying the guns and ammo that is used to gun down the protesting monk on the streets of Rangoon.”

    Lets avoid oversimplifying the scenario please.

  11. Oversimplify, IJones? To my mind, it could not be simpler – take your pick, an illegitmate government that is butchering its own people versus citizens who are protesting because they have no option. The illegitimate government supplies a miniscule portion of our oil needs, now and in the future. The illegitimate government is becoming close friends with China – big deal, China is already close friends with Pakistan and Thailand – much more significant in regional politics than Burma EVER will be.

    And WE feel we have something to lose by incurring the generals’ wrath? We are scared of the rage of a country which barely has 2-3 trading partners left ? We feel we have to kowtow to THESE people? What price self-respect?

    And before you bring out the ‘flower power’ accusations again, let me tell you my observations/ opinions are based on long residence in Southeast Asia, China and Burma. I count numerous Chinese, Thai and Burmese amongst my closest friends. Closer to the ground and more well-informed than you, I would imagine. The Burmese are a peace loving people – but the recent price rises have left them in a situation where an average working class person cannot even buy enough rice to feed his family for the month – they have no choice but to be on the street.

    They need help – from us.

  12. Nasha, nobody is saying that the Burmese are not a peace loving people. So what do you think, we are not? I myself am from the northeast and due to work based out of a South-Asian country have had the pleasure to meet and make acquaintances and friends with as many if not more people of the region as you have. I still honestly believe that India has been more than accommodating to all those who have ever asked for help. Out of personal experience I can say that in north India especially in the northeast you will find more Chinese, Bangladeshis, Nepalese and Burmese and Tibetans than the local population- which again does a U-turn and comes back to the topic of the ULFA. And inspite of its being so obliging it has had no dearth of the very same people who have received a safe haven here to turn around and criticise the country. Just because India has always been going out of its way to help people, doesnt put an onus on it to do so for all eternity at any price! India has always been diplomatic in its dealing with all countries- being stern when it has to and being lenient when it has to- and has always held its head high, no matter how many people have disparaged its approach.

  13. “India has always been diplomatic in its dealing with all countries- being stern when it has to and being lenient when it has to- and has always held its head high, no matter how many people have disparaged its approach.”

    Wow – I am glad you have such an all-encompassing benevolent and self-approving view of our foreign policy !! Now this is what I would call oversimplification, wouldn’t you agree?

    But anyway, that aside, I think there is an obligation to help the people of Burma…and do it with a bit of savvy. I think someone mentioned on an earlier post that we can try to dissuade the junta from the use of force (after all its not exactly the smartest thing to do and even they should realise that, right?) and try and get parties involved in some dialogue and discussion. We don’t have to go in guns blazing, but I’m sure we can do better than the timid pronouncements that have come so far from the MEA.

    We have already scuttled our chances in Nepal by supporting the monarchy (and what a godawful mistake THAT was!) – tomorrow if there is even the slightest chance the Burmese government is overthrown, we will come out of it looking pretty poor indeed. We already are.

  14. To Qualified Trash:

    Please tell me about state-sponsored terrorism, or is the state above sponsoring terrorism? What were the lessons of Delhi 1984 and Gujarat 2002?

    Kill the 10? Instead of respecting ALL individuals? Isn’t this how all authoritarian regimes start…..where does it end?

    “Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” -Goering, Hitler’s #2 Man

    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” - President Dwight D Eisenhower, 34th UUS President (and 5 Star General)

  15. Also Qualified Trash:

    Yes, you’re right I would comment about what you said about Dalits…..

    I think I have heard that one before…..”I’m not racist….I have a black friend.”

  16. I don’t understand what all this hulla is around. My opinin is that the GOI should always keep the interest of the country and its people first as opposed to idealism. If supporting the Junta is what it takes, then it has to do what it takes.

    By the way what has the embargo imposed so far achivend in Burma? It has become isolated and helped the military junta. morever people are suffering for the mistakes of their goverment

  17. In reponse to 119:

    Your comment is well received. It would not be a stretch of imagination to say that someone who has black FRIENDS is NOT RACIST.

    As for the Gujarat Riots and the Delhi Riots, there is no excuse for what happened. And yes, I partially belong to a community that lost a lot during the riots (and I know of family members, friends who lost businesses – google for “gujarat riots bohris”. I lived in Hyderabad so no impact to me or my immediate family).

    However, have you ever understood the psyche of a Hindu Majority in the country that is constantly asked to be looking out for minorities, minorities………(search SM for references to my background if interested and if there are more Mutineers who share a similar background, they will understand)

    What is the use of living in a democracy and then saying you are a minority and need special treatment? You do realize that the logical conclusion of a section of society going against another in the same country will be civil war………. So what is the way out. I really do not know. However our discussion has no relevance to this thread so I will refrain from further comment.

  18. Dude, Indianajones @ #111, lighten up! Note the smiley in comment #96!!!

    As for this:

    So stop nitpicking and while you’re at it could you do a favour and stop with this “name of one of the several communities that comprise Assam” rant.

    Pray where is the rant alluded to in the italicised ? I can’t seem to find any rants anywhere . . . (Why so much anger ?)

    (BTW, the gratuitous degree of self-identification with this or that community within Assam pains me as much as, I assume, it pains you. It is this sort of self-identification — coupled with a dash of extreme culutral uppitiness on the part of certain elites — that led to the fragmentation of early post-Independence Assam. Assam certainly doesn’t need more of the same.)

  19. Listen guys, right now lets pool our efforts and help spread information about what is happening right now in Burma. The Indian government is acting slimy and is more concerned right now about protecting its oil interests in Burma than about all the people protesting peacefully in the streets who are getting murdered because they were inspired by how Indians won their independence. They’re our neighbors and they are screwed. We need to spread the word. They have shut down the Burmese internet connection so we need to do all we can to make sure information is spreading about these human atrocities. Go to Sacredmediacow.com, the Southasian media collective based out of SOAS, University of London, where updates are being pooled and posted. Please send any new information and links to angad dot chowdhry @ gmail dot com

    A revolution is happening. Those who actually give a shit should get involved.

    click here: http://sacredmediacow.com/?cat=67

  20. Look, Indianajones and Anoop, I’m as much of a hardcore realist as anyone, but I simply disagree that it is in the BEST interest of India to remain silent while slaughter takes place next door. This is the kind of thing we have grown to expect from China. But India is better than that. In the 21st century a regional power should do more than rake in oil and gas contracts–it should take actions that it can to maintain regional stability and prosperity. I think you may have drawn the wrong lessons from Sri Lanka, where an (often violent) separatist movement there had ethnic ties to India. By that standard, India’s support for “Myanmar” should bring it no end of grief in the eastern states. No one is asking India to take sides in a civil war. But do you have to essentially bankroll the junta?

    The one thing the WORLD respects India for are its contributions to non-violent civil disobedience, and as a source of support and comfort to victims of brutal regimes around the world. This is no subtle choice between the lesser of two evils. Let me repeat: it is IN INDIA’S NATIONAL INTEREST to support democracy in Burma. Make the right decision, and the world will reward you. After all, you also believe in karma, no?

  21. Agree with 125:

    It is in India’s best interests to support democracy. No half-measures though. Just as in 71, get in free the leaders and take care of the Junta and get out……….. OR stay out of it all together.

  22. Some guy on slashdot suggests people stop buying Lenovo laptops in protest of China being so close to the Burmese junta.

    I think putting pressure on all backers is a good approach, instead of giving China a free pass because its not a democracy, so it won’t listen.

  23. I simply disagree that it is in the BEST interest of India to remain silent while slaughter takes place next door….

    The Indian government is acting slimy and is more concerned right now about protecting its oil interests in Burma than about all the people protesting peacefully in the streets who are getting murdered because they were inspired by how Indians won their independence

    India, Indian, Indian people, Indian Government…there are way too many words thrown around here assuming to all mean the same thing.

    I reiterate my stand, with some additions.

    It’s not the job of the Indian government to meddle in other countries’ internal affairs, no matter how despicably the other countries’ government is behaving towards it’s citizens. It’s the Indian government’s job to ensure the short and long term security and energy needs of it’s own citizens, at any cost to non-Indians. Indian businessmen should continue to ink deals with the military junta as if nothing is happening. Business is business.

    However, in parallel, citizen groups in India should rally in support for democracy in Myanmar. Feel free to organise petitions, refuse to use products in the market, write editorials, fast in front of the Myanmar consulate etc etc.

    This way, the Indian government can do it’s job, and if in future, democracy does come to Myanmar, the citizen groups can take some of the credit and foster friendship and ties with the Burmese people. It’s a win-win for India. Hard power and soft power working together in tandem.

    M. Nam

  24. M.Nam:

    India, Indian, Indian people, Indian Government…there are way too many words thrown around here assuming to all mean the same thing.

    Well, all those words seem related to me. Let me make it simple for you: the government of India, which once had the backbone to condemn the degenerates who rule the country next door, should join with the US and the EU and impose sanctions on Burma (as Aung San Suu Kyi’s followers have long demanded), should freeze the assets of the military leaders, should make it impossible to launder their heroin-trafficking money in Indian banks, should do what it can to re-connect lost telecommunications and internet connections through satellites or other routers, should provide aid and support to the protesters, and should do all it can to make the lives of the generals living hell until they recognize themselves the virtue of giving up power. Clear?

    Meddle? Newsflash: that’s what regional powers do, and that is what India has been doing for 60 years. If the Burmese regime collapses, your beloved Indian businessmen won’t lose squat, right? If the regime does collapse, I promise you that the few lousy rupees they lose will be well worth it. Do the right thing. India is worth it.

  25. government of India…should join with the US and the EU and impose sanctions on Burma (as Aung San Suu Kyi’s followers have long demanded), should freeze the assets of the military leaders…

    …And then China moves in with “full moral, diplomatic and military support” for the military junta, which is forced to nullify all energy and military deals with India. The democracy movement is suppressed ruthlessly in two weeks by the Chinese backed junta, and the UN observers are expelled. China uses its clout in the UN security council (as it already has yesterday) to refuse any condemnation of the junta by the UN. It opens a couple of military bases near the Indian borders, anchors warships in the Bay of Bengal and tells the military junta to “offer diplomatic and moral support” to the extremists in India’s northeast.

    Meanwhile, EU goes back to the next-fad-of-the-month, US goes back to its elections and debates about gay marriage, the CNN front pages go back to talking about Britney’s kids.

    And once again, India is left with nothing but its dick in its hand and a moral high ground that “it did the right thing” – for others, and screwed its own people. How many times have we seen that movie?

    M. Nam

  26. Meanwhile, EU goes back to the next-fad-of-the-month, US goes back to its elections and debates about gay marriage, the CNN front pages go back to talking about Britney’s kids.

    Which is exactly why ONLY India can do something about the situation, stay focused, and not suffer from the ADD that afflicts everyone else. But perhaps you are right: slink back into your shells until the whole thing blows over. Then you can go back to sucking down the Myamnar-ese spooge.

    China is going to help crush this thing whether or not the Indian govt. defends the protestors. If China wanted to open military bases in the Bay of Bengal, it sure as hell would have done so by now. Stop peeing in your pantaloons over everything you THINK China will or will not do and take a stand. Like you did in 1988. Like FDR did for India when the shoe was on the other foot (I realize it might be a faded memory, but try to revive it . . .)

  27. To Qualified Trash:

    Just wanting to comment about what you said and I will attempt to bring it back to Burma, so not to go too far off track.

    You posed the question of the ‘psyche of the Hindu majority,” but is there really a psyche? Is the ‘Hindu majority’ or any community for that matter so monolithic as to have a psyche? Plus when various groups feel that they are not enjoying the glow of freedom promised by leaders following the partition, they will attempt to democratically make their voices heard. Unfortunately, whether we look at the long histories in Kashmir, Punjab, Nagaland, and Assam, where democratic voices were smashed and quelled, some fringe groups took to arms. This is hardly a unique situation, the same was seen in Nepal and with the recent government crackdown in Burma, they may be fomenting their own homegrown insurgents.

    But then let’s bring it personal. Most groups hardly ask for ‘special treatment,’ but even if it is so, how does it affect you? How does a greater federal system that limits centralized power affect you as an Indian citizen? Isn’t the strength of the United States seen in its balance of power. All power not specifically granted to the federal government is thus the power of the states. These are fake divides that politicians use to divide people. Does gay marriage really affect the average citizen? Probably not, but the issue is used by political parties eager to drum up support of its authoritarian base and get itself elected.

    Now bringing it back to Burma, it is for people to unite and support one another. It will not be the Government of India that will do anything for the Burmese people. The Government of India hardly does anything for its own people (except enrich the coffers of the elites). It is for NGOs and Indian citizens to find ways to support and aid democracy in Burma.

    What is the use of living in a democracy and then saying you are a minority and need special treatment? You do realize that the logical conclusion of a section of society going against another in the same country will be civil war………. So what is the way out. I really do not know. However our discussion has no relevance to this thread so I will refrain from further comment.

  28. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” - President Dwight D Eisenhower, 34th UUS President (and 5 Star General)

    RMSA, I can bet you 10 bucks that Eisenhower got religion (so to speak) after completing his two terms and on his way out of the WH. :) Not that it makes it irrelevant or false.

  29. I think all the Indian citizens, NGOs, NRIs, PIOs, and others should actively support the peaceful protesters in Burma in all possible ways.

    They are under no obligation to fall in line with GOI’s position, and are not binded by geopolitical considerations.

    People to People

  30. I think all the Indian citizens, NGOs, NRIs, PIOs, and others should actively support the peaceful protesters in Burma in all possible ways.

    The GOI has armed and trained the army of the GOB. Should the people of India do the same for the people of Burma? By “all possible ways” do you mean “any means necessary”?

  31. Ignoring the fringe voices for a minute, I do think that India is on the wrong side of this. I feel that this popular movement will win out in the long term and India will have lost significant good will.

    louiecypher, I am beginning to agree with you.

  32. By “all possible ways” do you mean “any means necessary”?

    First, I meant peaceful (and within the law of the land – India) in my comment #.134. So “any means necessary” is out of question.

    Sure, if they want to setup support cells, raising money, awareness, dharnas, comfort to exiles, propaganda……..as private citizens in India, they can do what they want to support the Burmese democracy within the law.

    Something akin to Tibetans in India. Sure, they do GOI support their presence (and there is a long story/ history to it) yet India and China have growing relations.

  33. Indian government has really 2 options 1) Do a “Bangladesh”, send in army, release Su Kyi (sp?) and install Su Kyi led govt in Yangon 2) Do nothing, keep giving arms to the junta, get oil from within

    just diplomatic protest would certainly not be of any use as junta has Chinese support(UN security council veto power)

    option 2) is way better

    Risks of option 1) a) possible chance of a disastrous war with China b) instability in Indian North-Eastern states c) our experiences with Bangladesh. What did we gain from creating BD? 20 million illegal immigrants, ethnic imbalance in Assam (ULFA militancy), BD dominated border districts in WB. A nation of people with a hatred of Indians matching or even eclipsing Pakistanis. (Just go to any Bangladeshi forums and see the open hatred for Indians). supporting terrorism, masterminding bomb blasts in Hyd, Mumbai If we do option 2) for Burma, after 10-15 years we will see the same with the Burmese (hatred towards Indians, supporting terrorism)

    I say let the Americans and the Europeans do the heavy lifting if they want a regime change in Yangon. Let the NATO fight with the junta/possible Chinese help. Why should Indian soldiers be sacrificed to further American/Nato/EU foreign policy goals.

    Few reasons 1) Indian soldiers

  34. http://www.indianexpress.com/story/223207.html

    COLUMN

    Rangoon isn’t Kathmandu Shishir Gupta

    India’s Burma policy has to pass a series of reality checks. Some of them relate to N-E militancy, some to China.

    A country’s borders define it in more ways than one. Six years ago as a part of then foreign minister, Jaswant Singh’s entourage that crossed over a narrow ramshackle bridge from Moreh, India’s outpost, to enter into Burma’s Tamu, one could not help noticing that even the border town’s civil administration was handled by a retired major of the ruling State Peace and Development Committee. After inaugurating the historic 160 km Tamu-Kalewa road built by Indian Border Roads the same day, it was the signboard at the Royal Mandalay Palace, seat of the last hereditary Burmese King Mindon, that confirmed for the visitors how strong was the ruling military junta’s grip. Written in red in English, it said: “The Tatmadaw (army) shall never let the nation down.�

    These past days, US President George Bush and the Indian Left have joined hands to ask New Delhi to use its influence to get the Burmese junta to the dialogue table with the dissident monks fighting for restoration of democracy. But the present foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee’s response is a predictable reiteration of India’s policy of non-intervention. It is not that India does not support democracy. The fact is that New Delhi has precious little option, given Burma’s influence in containing militant groups operating from across the border in the Northeast.

    Since the launch of Operation Goldenbird in 1995 on the tip of Mizoram, the ruling SPDC has made significant efforts not to allow Indian Northeast groups like NSCN (I-M), NSCN (K), ULFA and PLA to establish training camps in Burma. The fact is that at least thrice between 2002 and 2005, the Burmese army suffered serious casualties in hunting down Indian militants in the Sagaing division across Nagaland. By establishing radio links between its Northwest Command and Indian Army’s III Corps at Moreh, the junta routinely warns the other side about militant crossings or arms shipments. Not only has the junta taken action time and again against ULFA camps in the Vijaynagar salient across the Arunachal Pradesh border, it has put a check on arms supply to the Indian insurgents from distant Ranong on the Thailand border via Myanmar. Operation Leech in 1998 in which Arakanese gun-runners were covertly killed by the Indian forces was a direct result of this cooperation.

    If internal security was paramount to the Indo-Burmese equation, the growing Chinese influence in Burma, after the latter was shunned by many countries in 1989, has also alarmed South Block. Sharing a 2204 km border with Burma, China is the lifeline of the ruling junta and supplies it with everything from food grains to weapons. Much to New Delhi’s chagrin, the security scenario got more complex when in 2000 Pakistan also supplied weapons worth $ 2.5 million to Burma. Left with no options, India jumped in and supplied 105 light field guns, 5.56 mm rifles, machine guns and four naval surveillance aircraft. It is only because of this deft thinking that New Delhi has an assurance that the Chinese will not get infrastructure projects west of Chindwin river, a tributary of the mighty Irrawaddy and also close to the Indian border. Burma is involved in Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, seen as an alternative to China’s Kunming initiative. It has also agreed to act as a strategic gateway from India to Asean countries.

    In 2005 the ruling junta allowed the Indian navy’s surveillance planes to overfly the Coco Islands to satisfy New Delhi’s long-standing apprehension that Burma had allowed China a station on this island to listen in on tests at the Interim Missile Testing Range at Chandipur. And Pakistan’s ham-handed attempt to take over the mazaar of the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, in Rangoon was rebuffed by the Burmese government.

    Although the EU-US wants India to repeat its Nepal performance in Burma, India knows that the two situations are very different. The fact is that the strategic levers at India’s command in Nepal are missing in Burma. Indo-Nepal trade stands at $ 2 billion with Kathmandu relying totally on New Delhi for fuel supplies and 70 per cent of its exports and 65 per cent of its imports. India may share a 1338 km border with Burma, but bilateral trade is a sluggish $ 569 million, with Burma having direct sea access and strategic lines of infrastructure and communication to Kunming in China.

    India could have played the kind of role it did in Nepal if it had utilised all the opportunities offered by Burma. In 1997, Burma agreed to Indian assistance in the upgrade of road communication in the Kachin state, Chin state, upgrade of railway systems, development of port facilities and inland water terminals in the Chindwin and Kaladan rivers. After the Asian meltdown, Burma even offered its proven gas blocks in the Bay of Bengal after Thailand decided to give them up. A decade down the line, the Kaladan multi-modal link is still to be completed, the Tamanthi hydro-electric project is still to take off and even the Vajpayee government’s decision to allow import of 50,000 tonnes of sticky rice for the northeastern states only exists on paper. And the decision to acquire gas blocks for exploration purposes is still being contested between Foreign Secretary Shiv Menon and Petroleum Secretary M.S. Srinivasan.

    The UPA political leadership, in particular the Congress leaders, may privately be supportive of Aung San Suu Kyi and the monks now on Rangoon’s streets, but overtly it will have to deal with whosoever is in power; such is the security calculus. New Delhi also knows that with the Burmese army controlling every part of society, transfer of power in that country will have to come through negotiations and not through revolution or isolation of the military regime. New Delhi has not forgotten that two years after Suu Kyi was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1993, the Burmese army suddenly withdrew in the midst of Operation Goldenbird and the surrounded militants escaped from the Indian dragnet. It does not want to visit that nightmare again.

  35. The Electronic media has opened the eyes of the whole world as to what had happened in Burma. It was ridicolous to see how the Burmis junta could be so brutal towards the protestors and especially on the monks, who are so venerated and honored by all. It is power of their arms that they had shown and the world had observed their severe brutality. When it was matter of prestige to them and all hatred came from all corners of the world, they cutoff the internet connections. It is worse. The army/junta should remember that peoples’ strength is mightier than arms. I believe that the democracy, for which the people of Burma are fighting for so long, will win soon. After the internet connection was cutoff, it was understood by the people that the situation would be worst and to cover up the reality of their brutality, they had done the worst thing. I am sure millions of people are supporting the democratic cause of Burma and their freedom. I wish the army will realise their unrepairable mistakes and go back to their berrac.

  36. yes, initially the creation of bangladesh was to neutralize pakistan and india succeeded. but as the bengalis are over there in bangladesh, highly fanatic in their religious beliefs, had a platonic love affair with muslims all over the world and began to dislike hindu majority india. and the advantage was lost. in the bargain 20 million refugees had to be accommodated and they are still leaving for india irrespective of caste, tribe or religion in search of livelihood.

  37. “If you were Im sure you would have known that Assam is pronounced “Ahom”. I dont “absolutely” feel the need to write “Ahom” I wrote it because thats the way i normally pronounce it. If you would had read my previous comments you would have seen that i have written it as Assam as well. So stop nitpicking and while you’re at it could you do a favour and stop with this “name of one of the several communities that comprise Assam” rant. You’re not the only one knows about history and demography so cut it out.”

    Indianajones, are you deaf? Assam is never pronounced Ahom. In Assamese, Assam is pronounced “Oxom”. Ahom which is an ethnic group is pronounced “AaHooM”. BTW Assam or Acham is not some legacy from the British times. It is much older than that, and very much a indigenous name found in the Ahom and Koch buranji.

  38. We as Indians were dissapointed too with Indian govt supporting the military govt. It’s shame.

    But you know we nationalist Indians were never in favour of this indian govt.

    We tried to work for Hindu state…with our Buddhist friends getting a honourable democracy…but alas..

    let’s see its never too late..congress govt will be defeated…and we hope for BJP govt..which will work for nationalist Indians and Burma is in heart of nationalist Indian citizens.