Modi, Suu Kyi and Rohingya

Prime Minister Modi had met Ms Aung Sung Suu Kyi in Myanmar on his way back from BRICS summit. Timing of the meeting is important because Myanmar is being shaken up by Rohingya – Buddhihst strife in Rakhine province. As prime minster of worlds largest democracy, Mr. Modi was expected to make a strong pitch for establishing peace by resolving internal strife. Instead joint statement highlighted bilateral security and counter terrorism partnership.

Debate has started should Mr Modi have pushed for sterner joint statement covering resolution of Rohingya issue? I would like to draw attention to two points. First most critics do not know what transpired between Mr Modi and Ms Suu Kyi. Nevertheless otherwise reticent Ms Suu Kyi has issued a statement on Rohingyas. Where she stressed on the need to separate innocent citizens from militants. She also sought Indian help on the matter.

Second point being Indian foreign policy for past many decades has been preaching others. We are a desperately poor nation beset with many problems. Even now, we have the largest number of very poor people in the world. Many of our citizens do not have access to healthcare, clean drinking water, education and sanitation. So our preaching, may be well intentioned, falls in deaf ears. Inaction, because of our moralistic posturing, India did not have many friends. Burmese junta had courted China, when India cricticsed military rule. Chinese diplomacy works in a noninvasive manner. China do not moralise on internal issues of a country. India must learn from China. In the geographical region India sits on, it is highly risky to be preachy. We helped in freedom movement of  Bangladesh in1971, look wher it landed us vis a vis terrorism in Kashmir and Punjab. Interference in Sri Lanka has costed us a prime minister. If India antagonises Myanmar, it will give space to China in Myanmar as well a shelter to  separatists in North East who take refuge in Myanmar. We need business opportunity as well as military cooperation with Myanmar. We need to do business with Myanmar that may promote growth and opportunity for her people and for Indian people. Once people have jobs, militancy will come down. Only a very powerful country like the US or USSR that does not hesitate to use force if threatened, can preach others. On top of that US occupies almost a whole continent without minimal threat of terrorist infiltration.

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