Question: Even after decades of interaction, India’s relationship with its eastern neighbours such as Bangladesh and Myanmar has not been fully realised. Give a note of the potential benefits of better interaction with these countries.
Answer: India’s foreign policy regarding Bangladesh and Myanmar has been gaining attention in recent times. This delay has potentially deprived India of precious moments to reiterate its hold over the neighbourhood. Currently, India has to deal with China while trying to establish better relations.
Potential benefits of better interactions
- Faster connectivity to Northeast India
The Siliguri corridor is the chink in India’s armour that China has tried to exploit. The restricted connectivity to Northeast India has reduced the potential for development. Using Bangladesh as a transit route to Northeast will reduce time and money for the movement of goods and services. Similarly, Myanmar allows the unrestricted potential for faster connectivity.
Ex: Monga Port in Bangladesh, Kaladan Multimodal project.
- Gateway to South East Asia
India has been trying for better connectivity to ASEAN countries and Myanmar has answers to that issue. Utilising border with Myanmar, India can develop roads and railways to connect interior Southeast Asia and enhance its presence to challenge China.
- Access untapped resources
Bangladesh and Myanmar are a large repository for untapped natural resources especially petroleum and precious resources. The Arakan coast has vast natural gas and petroleum. Similarly jades, rubies are found in the mountains of Myanmar. Bangladesh has vast marine resources for development.
- Trade and security
Bangladesh has a large market for Indian goods and services especially electronics and IT. In addition, India is a more reliable partner when it comes to defence and security. In recent times, the development of nuclear energy in Bangladesh has opened a new opportunity for India to explore.
- Shared culture
Bangladesh and Myanmar have a similar culture to that of India when it comes to religion and social customs. This similarity can be transformed into better cultural interaction between people of two countries with easy movement. This will enhance bilateral ties.
Thus, India has a plethora of opportunities when it comes to developing better ties with Bangladesh and Myanmar. This needs to convert into something substantial.