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]
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 Â£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).
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]
p>Why this cowardice / realpolitik?
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.
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.
p>Hmmm – a powerful country that puts security and energy above human rights and principle. Hmmmm ….. never heard that one before.
p>Related posts: Realpolitik with Burma, An Important Message, Which Has Nothing to do with Spelling
p>The material below – both the facts and the rude political cartoon were taken from a Human Rights in Burma website.
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]
One major problem with the current military junta in Burma is its treatment of minorities, which currently constitute approx. 40% of the population. The independence movement in Burma, which coincided in time with India’s, was very much oriented around Burmeseness, and from what I understand, the same leaders who promoted a nationalism based around Burmeseness are the ones who took over in the early years of independent, democratic Burma before the junta took over in the early 60s.
So if Burmese democracy is restored (which I very much hope it is), what exactly will it look like? What exactly do the monks want, and who is speaking for them? I’m trying to figure out the answers to these questions – does anyone know?
Also, the Guardian today mentioned some blogs/online publications which are offering commentary on what’s going on in Burma, since it’s very difficult for journalists to cover it properly. Does anyone know of any other blogs which are operating out of Burma?
The responses always amaze me. Instead of being sheep-like blind nationalists that discuss the lives of brave civilians and true democrats (such as the protesting monks), we are more interested in the geopolitical football game where peoples’ lives mean nothing. Is this how Americans talked about ‘nuking’ the Japanese in WWII as it was our ‘national interest.’ Will the Chinese people and Indian people talk about ‘nuking’ each other as if one discusses the outcome of the Titans-Saints game? It is/was such talk that allowed Americans to become embroiled in Iraq without paying any attention to the misery on the millions, including unfathomable death tolls, because people could reduce others’ lives to little more than ‘geopolitics,’ the need to ‘secure oil,’ and ‘national honor.’ Sorry for the moral outrage, but I hope people do reflect on themselves.
Governments will do as they do. They should be opposed by democratic, freedom-inspired people. These are the people that history remembers as great. Ennis is right to bring up the issue for many of us of South Asian descent should reflect on the workings of the Indian government. However, I am not surprised that they should support authoritarian regimes. The Emergency called by Indira Gandhi and the numerous ‘President’s Rule’ has dotted Indian History since the partition. India has never been considered democratic by many masses outside of its urban elites. Unfortunately many of us come from these backgrounds and have never reflected on other points of view. Ask Muslims in Kashmir, Sikhs in Punjab, Christians in Nagaland, Adi Dharmis in Assam, and most importantly Dalits throughout India how much they believe India supports democracy and you will get a much different answer than the one people here prescribe.
So support people! Do not support governments, especially in those matters that adversely affect the lives of others. Support the government when it responds to your local needs (builds roads, hospitals, schools, etc.), however your support should be based on issues not flag-waving, “love-it-or-leave-it” nationalism. As Tech says, “I love the (Indian) people, but hate the people in charge!”
India is going to get dragged through the mud regardless of whether or not it takes a moral stance. Look at the South Asia focused academics at US universities, most hate India (in contrast to the China specialists who seem to be on the payroll). I mean we have Ram Mohammed above in post #52 seriously suggesting that Khalistani’s or Kashmiri’s demands for plebiscite for independence (i.e to declare a theocracy & expel indigenous minorities) is worthy of serious consideration.
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. Just as it has in Nepal by being too close to the monarchy
In response to 52:
Why only ask Muslims in Kashmir, Christians in Nagaland and Sikhs in Punjab? What about the rest of the Muslims, Sikhs and Christians in India? While it seems fashionable to bash the GOI policies, you will never know why they do what they do, knowing what they know? So
If the Indian government keeps asking questions over and over again as to who wants to be a part of India and who does not, India as we know will cease to exist. Go look at the meaning of the word Democracy. Nowhere does it say that it means people get to decide if they want the country to remain together or not.
That’s already a reality with the hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees in Gujarat, carried out and sanctioned by a right wing government after the pogroms there. Talk about the splendours of Indian democracy probably doesnt carry much purchase there, and it should make more people reflect. ‘Should’, but it doesn’t, because the majority doesnt care enough about it to do anything or protest. That’s an aspect of ‘democracy’ in India that should be reflected on — the murderous tyranny of the majority.
either India supports burma, or.. Chaos breaks out in the northeast of India.. India has no future natural oil & gas resources to tap.. cuz china and america have them all. Inflation busts India up Millions die & suffer. come on ?
is this even real ?
First, what do you expect India to do in this situation. For many years India supported the pro-democracy movement. It did not work. India MUST act in its own interest. Saudi Arabia is FAR worse than Burma in many ways, yet no one is complaining when 1/2 the countries in the world purchase hydrocarbons from them. In the land of Saud, even the spirit of democracy has been crushed, a spirit which is so obviously alive in Burma today.
India cannot take a purely moral stand, it can however oppose the dictatorship directly, with a view on its own interests. Lets say the government calculates that Burma is truly ready for a revolution. Then India could support it fully, knowing that after it is over there will be a free, Democratic Burma friendly to India and antagonistic to China. This support would have to be military/economic and strategic in nature. I don’t know whether India truly has the balls to pull something like this off(though it would be similar to the Bangladesh war.
“India has never been considered democratic by many masses outside of its urban elites”
This is perhaps the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard on sm. Whether or not YOU consider India democratic is irrelevant. The Urban elites in India are the LEAST likely to take advantage of the democracy that does exist. The main voters in India are the lower and lower-middle classes. I think over 60% of eligible Indians voted in the last election…you can compare that favorably with most other countries. You cannot confuse the policies of the Indian government with a lack of democracy. Are the policies of the US really representative of the views of the average American? In a large democracy you will always find that the average, majority position will set the general course of policy, especially when it matters to a lot of people. Things like foreign policy are easily swayed because not that many people within the country REALLY care about them.
Ennis, I find the cartoon that you have posted to be in very bad taste. It’s normal for political cartoons that target public officials to question their intelligence. This is done as a means of expressing opinion and is appropriate. The above cartoon goes way overboard. It shows a total lack of respect for the prime minister. The post of the prime minister deserves respect because the office holder is serving the country in its highest post and at the will of the people. The prime minister has a solid reputation and the issue above does not justify such a disgusting depiction of him.
It’s mostly the lower classes that vote in India, with administrations (e.g. Naidu in AP, BJP nationally) that don’t address the masses getting voted out regularly. But no point in artguing with the Zenos of the world, South Asia has a troubling history with communal violence but some people seem to focus on its Indian manifestations.
Ankur, I think it was quite fair to include the cartoon. It does reflect the understandable disgust that the Burmese opposition feels towards India at the moment and is relevant for us to know.
It is in poor taste. But it is also not an ad-hominem attack on either the person or the office of the President. Instead it is a fairly literal description of the complaint, i.e. that India prefers gas that comes with a bad stench to helping out the Burmese democracy movement.
The Saudi government is not very nice, but it does not use forced labor, nor does it use rape as a weapon of war.
And would India run out of resources if they failed to invest in a pipeline in Burma? India has choices. Sure, it’s easier and cheaper for India to get natural gas from its neighbor, but this is hardly a matter of India’s survival. The same is true for the “security agreements” it has made. Maybe arming and training the Burmese army will reduce the threat to India’s border, or maybe the junta will do as Pakistan has done to the USA, use the continued threat of insecurity to keep getting what it wants from India.
India doesn’t have to give economic, military or diplomatic support to Burma. Certainly, it will pay certain costs if it does not. The question is whether these costs are worth the moral cost of support. Furthermore, even if you think they are, India’s short term benefit may be its long term loss. India has options and it is making choices.
Good points that any objective observer would have to agree with:
India’s track record on human rights is by far the worst in the world. What other nation tolerates an abomination like untouchability? What other nation turns a blind eye to widespread hunger and malnutrition?
India’s democracy is a sham and a failure. An illiterate clueless population is duped into electing corrupt and unqualified leaders making false promises. There is no real accountability, for the replacements at the next elections are just as cluless and just as corrupt.
Ennis, I’d think that both those countries have really atrocious human rights record. Can we even compare the two and then say Saudi government is marginally better because of the reasons you mentioned, and that’s why the focus should be on Burma? The point raised was a valid one, IMO.
I used to get mad India did business with the Burmese tyrants. Then I realized something. India has NO leverage whatsoever. China is ruthless when it comes to taking advantage of these situations. If India threatens Burma with a boycott, China will swoop in and promise Burma to make up for India’s lack of participation. China government officials have no conscience whatsoever. They are doing the same crap in Africa. Bribing tyrants with arms and other stuff so they can get to fuck those countries good in the future.
what i find disturbing is this. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7011746.stm
what does this say about India…
Oh ya…China is an excellent country : after the Tiananmen maasacare it has learnt how to play the game like Saudi Arbaia…so as long as you can do business with a capitalist economy it is ok. Thanks to such business China is becoming less totalitarian as time progresses
I think the above condonement of Saudi is totally wrong.. There have been innumerable reports by American organizations about the sorry state of affairs in Saudi. Just as a reference check this article out including a recent news in USAToday
Agreed, the Saudis do horrible things. However, as I pointed out, they don’t use forced labor and they don’t use rape as a weapon of war. IMHO: The stuff that happens in Burma is very rare, the stuff that happens in Saudi is unfortunately more common in many dictatorships.
Thats true. But then as long as you can keep the dictator happy to support your cause ( for e.g Musharaff, Saudi Arabia, Indian oil deal with Burma ) then you can have the cake and eat it too. Once when the dictator crosses your path then you can change your foreign policy and push hard on some other front ( for e.g iraq). thats realpolitik.
India intefered in Sri Lanka and got its butt kicked by the Tamil Liberation movement. The 4th largest army in the world was put to shame by a small group of freedom fighters who humiliated the Indians left right and centre. What do you think will happen if the same gung-ho Indian army went to Burma to “save” the people?
What’s with all these false choices? I said India shouldn’t arm and train the Burmese military and financially support the Burmese government. The only alternative to that would be invasion by India?
The problem is this. If India did the right thing and cut off military help, Chinese will swoop in and Burma wouldn’t give a shit about India’s lack of cooperation.
I personally would not do what India is doing, but quite frankly, I hope India is doing it from a realpoitick view of being in the political loop throughout the continent rather than cashing in on these deals.
the saudi govt. also has more international influence than the burmese. they export and support of their brand of islam outside saudi arabia and it affects other countries. not to downplay or excuse the burmese excesses.
this is a sad story for me to read. with india’s own past of being supressed, I would think that ideals of democracy would be entrenched in india’s policy towards places where freedom is lacking in the world. especially in it’s own backyard. to me this is a sign of weakness and india compromising it’s values that i would have thought to be unshakable. to me it is not a representation of indian people the world over and that discrepancy between the actions of the government and the temperance of it’s people signifies how awful the government over there has the potential to be. hopefully in 10-15 years the govt. will be dominated by emotionally sound iit, iim grads that can change the landscape of indian politics.
The level of ignorance here is astounding. China is already in Myanmar. Its the nation with by far the most influence there, both economically and militarily.
SkepMod, the question is how– how to walk in and ask for guns to be handed over, 0or chase them all down? Re first sentence, democratization is a live process, and it doesn’t necessarily or automatically bring about open doors, peace, love and friendship towards people who want in on newly democratized markets– after all, did Desh behave like that right after independence? This is what the democracy=stability formula is meant to gloss over — self-determination. In any case, as far as I can tell, it’s mumbo-jumbo, an excuse for making ready for invasion. “We’re doing it for their own good” goes back at last to the Roman Empire.
HMF, I’m not in that camp. I just think it’s too late for the Indian Govt. to do anything redemptive, and yes, it is a sovereign nation and a source of fuel– the latter aspect being more to do with the future of Iran and America, and where India will fit in.
Dhoni, glass houses– you can say this about the American electorate, certainly in 2000 and 2004.
among other late night typos, “We’re doing it for their own good” goes back at least to the Roman Empire.
Anyhoo, I’m saying, none of the present near inaction on the part of the Govt. prevents individual Indian citizens and NRIs and ABDs and Desi-Angrez and such from acting to support the protesters.
Amrita – I wish the Indian government was “inactive”. Instead they’re both arming and training the military funding the government (through gas deals). That’s hard to offset.
I must have done a poor job of writing this post – somehow many people have the idea that the Indian government is “inactive” instead of actively arming and training the Burmese military.
I meant, to a greater degree. Of course, China is already heavily involved. Give us a break, we are just commenting on a blog here. Save the ignorance comments if we stuck to our positions.
All three, Burma, China, and Saudi Arabia, made Freedom House‘s 2005 list of the 18 most repressive regimes in the world.
I hear you, Ennis. Only, India cannot go it alone. It’ll get royally screwed by China if it tried.
No you did a great job…as always, we have a lot of people in denial about India. Or who will support India right or wrong. That being said, the China factor and the realpolitik involved make this one a toughie. Take the moral highground and lose all the economic and political advantages (unless the protesters win the day eventually)…OR play the usual dirty games that most governments play, while gaining perhaps dubious short-term benefits, putting some sort of break on China, yet enabling the suffering of millions in the process. Is there a government on Earth that ever took the moral highground?
I do agree with whoever said that China is India’s biggest threat.
I feel very amused to see so many people here harping about India not doing enough about Burma. Lets get a little realistic please. As it is India is overwhelmed with internal issues everywhere especially in the Northeast, the biggest of them being the ULFA- and it doesnt do the country any good by its being surrounded by countries such as China, Pakistan, Burma et al. In Assam, we have to sign a form from the school our kids go to which says “I will not hold the school responsible in case of any bomb blast which could result in the injury or probable death of the child”. Do you know how painful that is? If my sis-in -law and I had not finished our wedding shopping from the Tinsukia market an hour earlier, i guess we too would have been blown to smithereens this January. So when the Indian goverment already has its plate full with all these issue, I honestly dont find anything wrong with India not swooping in to support the Burmese people or any other people. India cant afford to take people head on and make enemies for itself on all sides of its borders when it has enough enemies within.
The ULFA intially had its bases in Bhutan: the Indian govt. was able to get Bhutan to flush out these militants in 2003, after which they moved their bases to Bangladesh and Burma. India’s been trying for some time to persuade the Myanmar junta to throw them out: I don’t know if there’s been any success. But the junta has certainly lessened its active support for ULFA.
There are three points:
a) Chinese involvement in Burma is light years ahead than India. Sure, Indian Government should take maybe, a slightly stronger stand – do business but tell them what they do not like. That might actually help India in long term.
b) India is seriously hurting in energy market – they are not many places in the world left – where India can make deals – they all are staked out. Barring few new discoveries in Rajasthan and Cauvery Basin, and coal bed methane, India cannot maintain 9% growth rate without new energy sources.
c) A few years ago, India was quite vocal in their opposition to Burmese junta. Even right now, they are quite a few Burmese exiles in India. I just heard one of them on BBC a few minutes ago.
Some excerpts from BurmaNet:
Open support in India for a return to democracy in Burma and its incarcerated opposition leader, the Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, is now confined to Burmese exile groups supported by George Fernandes, Indiaâ€™s outspoken former defense minister.
Fernandes helped organize a three-day â€œInternational Convention for the Restoration of Democracy in Myanmarâ€ a week before Than Shweâ€™s arrival defying suggestions that the meeting be postponed till after the departure of the general.
But Fernandes admitted at a press conference that he failed to do anything to further the cause of democracy in Burma during his six years as defense minister that ended when the coalition government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party was voted out of power in May.
â€œEven economic sanctions are not going to work against Burma because the military rulers in Yangon [Rangoon] have close ties with China,â€ said Jha.
Indeed Indiaâ€™s change of heart after a bout of vocal support for Suu Kyi between 1988 and 1990 was partly a reaction to China rapidly moving in to fill the spaces it had vacated.
My note: I think India could be tougher, but I guess, is scared China will use that to their great advantage.
I could v well be wrong there: I used to hear a lot about the ULFA but hear less now. But that could be cos I am not in India. Incidentally, the Acorn thinks India could easily be tougher on the Myanmar junta.
Burma is a tough call for India, for the following reasons: (I’ve been studying this situation recently)
1) A compliant, friendly Burma means access not only to fuel but to a corridor that links S. E. Asia to E. India. A (world-famous) writer, who knows, told me, and clearly believes, that this corridor will mean nothing less than the alleviation of poverty in all of E. India. Don’t dismiss this motivation lightly.
2) Burma is uncomfortably held in check by this junta. The Kachins, in particular, will go straight back to war if the iron grip of the military is lifted in any way. Their leaders have said as much, and they will be followed by other ethnic groups who can and have made life very difficult for India before.
3) The entire world stands by without lifting a finger about Burma. It is not unlike the Tibet situation – where some elites in the West complain a bit, but the national governments don’t do a thing. By contrast, India has (admttedly off-and-on) campaigned strongly for a Burmese ‘opening’, and at the level of people-to-people support no country does or has done more than India.
4) I highly recommend the fairly recent book by Thant Myint-U, grandson of U Thant (highly effective secy gen. of the U.N. who was elected to a second term despite US protests…). He places the current Burmese travails in historical context quite brilliantly (t’was the Brits who broke it, one chief culprit: Randolph Churchill), and warns, in a highly plausible fashion, that sanctions are the worst thing poss. for Burma, engagement is the way to slowly clamber out of the cage.
5) Note, in this context, that India is (by his measure) doing the pragmatic, supportive thing. And the US (viz the latest sanctions, and mealymouthed grandstanding) is doing the exact opposite.
“But the junta has certainly lessened its active support for ULFA. I could v well be wrong there: I used to hear a lot about the ULFA but hear less now.”
ULFA is very much there Sakshi. Its made life miserable for the common people and makes it presence felt more brazenly towards 15 August and 26 January. The people of Ahom have long stopped their support to the ULFA, who have almost become a legal entity now. Its common knowledge that all goverment contracts are taken over by the ULFA which sells to the highest bidder in Ahom. They have recently masacred so many people who are not of Assamese origin. And now recently it has come out with an open warning to the GOI that its going to step up its tactics. Its no news that the ULFA is getting full support from Bangladesh and even Burma- though it did get the boot from Bhutan. Link: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/ULFA_outsourcing_suicide_attacks_US_think-tank/articleshow/2382338.cms
…which is why I dont blame the goverment from taking a pragmatic approach towards this whole issue. It absolutely needs energy resources and it cant afford to let China take the lead- a country which in itself is very dangerous and absolutely not trustworthy.
And as for Fernandes, he is the last person who should be talking about doing what is right.
Indian Mandarins (as well as elected officals, they are about as bad) has systematically made the wrong call when they tried to play real-politic in the past. Anyone remember the Indian FM rushing to Iraq-Kuwait right after Iraq occupied Kuwait (but before the First Iraq war actually started) to congratulate Iraq on the victory? At that time they spun it as need for oil + need to protect Indians in the gulf. Of course when push came to shove, the Indians in the gulf were pretty much left to take care of themselves.
Any bets about how this round will turn out?
There is a story behind the story. The “facts about Burma” and the diatribe against India’s support is from thefrom the British based Burmacampaign.org.uk/ which has its own hidden agenda.
For example does anybody know that the the human rights charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide, UK (http://www.csw.org.uk/) is heavily involved in the campaign for a democratic Burma.
No prizes for guessing why.
From their website http://www.cswusa.com/Reports%20Pages/Reports-Burma.htm
As a result of a major campaign by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and Burma Campaign UK, which was only possible with your support, the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has issued an unprecedented statement on Burma. He has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, instructed the Foreign Secretary to discuss Burma with EU partners this week, and pledged personally to raise Burma with other world leaders as soon as possible. You can see the full statement here: http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page13011.asp
Now assuming Myanmmar does get democracy — what are the security implications
We already have different seperatist christian groups operating in the North East — adn
A democratic Myammar would lead to an influx of CIA, missionaries and aid workers, providing help to the terrorists on India troubled north east region. Hardly any comfort for us and a genuine security threat to the entire North East.
I love Democracy, I love Burma. But I love India more!!!
Can someone confirm the rumour that soldiers from Sagaing, Chin and Magway provinses have mutinied and are marching on the Generals Capitol of Naypyidaw?
The reason I call you names, MoorNam, is because a statement like this (comment #9):
is not only callous; it is a knee-jerk reaction that betrays zero functioning of a mind. I say “knee-jerk” because, rather than a basic fact-check, your assertion seems to stem from a (pathetically naive sort of) neoconservative dogma. By the way: I largely agree with your:
but the other part of your statement is not a corollary of the above!!! About fact-checking: firstly, India’s arms supplies to Burma, far from ensuring Indian energy security, have merely created an arms bazaar, facilitated by corrupt elements in the Burmese Army, with North-Eastern insurgents as the primary buyers. Secondly, the claims about various Burmese gas projects in re India’s energy-security strategy just don’t add up. The tariff on the actual product from one recent multi-user deal — amounting to US$ 10.2 billion over a 20 year period with escalations factored in (& with other consumers apart from India) — reveals how marginal this is to India’s energy needs. So, MoorNam, more fact-checking please before you shoehorn issues like this into your frame of biases!
As an aside: there is, alas, a tendency among the infantile fringe of the foreign-policy-hawk community to view the U.S. posture towards Saudi Arabia as an apt metaphor for Indian realpolitik vis-a-vis Burma. This is a mere delusion of grandeur, but it makes everyone concerned feel so warm-blooded and priapic that I fear that it will be hard to get many foreign-policy mavens to accept a rethink on Burma.
India have no choice but to support Burma. Burma is helping India to fight terrorists in North-East states.India need to help Burma otherwise China would come in and establish a strong hold next to the troubled states. We all know what China will do once it has a strong base.
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.
Watching the events unfolding in Burma, I can’t tell whether I’m been more shocked at the Indian governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s decision to remain silent, or more disgusted at the recent pusillanimous statements of the Ministry of External Affairs suggesting that Ã¢â‚¬Å“both sidesÃ¢â‚¬Â reach some mutual agreement. It was horrifying enough to see India, the country that was among the first to offer aid and support to the protesters in Rangoon in 1988, watch from the sidelines as a repeat of those events unfolded for eight days. But to equate the junta and the Buddhist protestors as somehow moral equivalents that need to reach some bargained accommodation is either breathtakingly stupid or simply cowardly. India, the country that invented modern civil disobedience, should know better.
It is time for the Indian government to live up to the democratic ideal to which so many citizens in neighboring states aspire and lead by example. It should unequivocally support the actions of the Buddhist monks and protesters. It should condemn the violent actions of the Burmese military government without qualification. And as long-demanded by followers of Aung San Suu Kyi, it should impose sanctions on a regime that has consigned its citizens to abject poverty and terror for almost 50 years. If the military regime survives, India may lose its energy contracts in Burma. So be it.
Sounds just like: “The US has no choice but to support Pakistan. Pakistan is helping the US fight terrorists in the North-West. The US needs to help Pakistan otherwise … “
If you believe the first statement, then you believe the second probably too. If you don’t believe the second, you can see the argument against the first too. This is how GB objects to your argument:
Given the amazing coincidence that the five permanent Security Council members also happen to be in the list of top 7 arms suppliers in the world over the past decade (China seems to have lagged behind a bit in 2006), maybe India is simply trying to increase its chances of joining the select club? And what an Orwellian name for the Council!!
Yah, I dont buy the argument where India should help Burma’s dictators only because they help them marginally with their northeastern problem. But I do see India’s involvement in Burma as a case where India is still in the loop. There is nothing stopping India from still helping out Burmese dissidents and helping Burmese dictators at the same as long as they are creative enough. If India remains in the loop, then they can capitalize in helping out the dissidents when the appropriate time comes. It is not wise to let China play solo in Burma. If India could do business with Russia for so many years, I fail to see the outrage over the Burmese thing.