India-Myanmar Border Issues


    In News

    • Recently, the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Development of North Eastern Region, held a virtual meeting with the Minister for Border Affairs of Myanmar.

    More about the news

    • Internal developments of Myanmar: 
      • In the context of recent developments inside Myanmar and their repercussions along India-Myanmar border region, the two sides discussed the need to ensure peace, stability and economic development along the border.
      • It was emphasized that early restoration of peace and security and implementation of development projects in Myanmar will benefit the people residing along both sides of the border. 
      • India also sought continued cooperation of the Myanmar authorities for early repatriation of trapped Indian nationals in the Myawaddy region.
    • India’s connectivity projects in Myanmar:
      • The two sides also discussed Government of India’s grant-in-aid connectivity projects in Myanmar aimed at infrastructure development in the country and economic well-being of the people of Myanmar.
    • Other issues:
      • Other issues discussed included creation of conducive conditions for the return of Myanmar nationals currently taking shelter in India, combating drug trafficking and other transnational crimes, strengthening people to people exchanges in the bordering areas, Free Movement Regime, and ways to augment border trade.

    About the internal Situation of Myanmar 

    • Coup: 
      • On 1 February 2021, Myanmar’s military took power in a coup, abruptly halting the country’s fragile transition toward democracy.
        • It justified the coup by alleging widespread fraud in the 2020 election – which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won by a landslide.
          • Independent observers have rejected such claims.
      • In the weeks following the coup, huge numbers of people took to the streets for mass protests. 
    • Army’s Response: 
      • The military responded with deadly violence and imposed a campaign of terror, raiding homes and arresting anyone suspected of supporting democracy.
      • As compared to 2021, the resistance took more violent forms and spread mostly to the North and Western parts of the country. 
      • The regime has introduced further restrictions on political parties by barring them from speaking with international organisations or foreigners without permission from the electoral body.
    • Repercussions:
      • Refugee problem: 
        • the ongoing conflict has resulted in widespread displacement within and outside the country, leading to the refugee problem in neighbouring countries, particularly India and Thailand.
      • Cross border crimes:
        • The incidents of drug trafficking and money laundering have also increased across bordering states, especially Thailand and India. 
        • Finally, drug consumption has surged within the country, deteriorating the health and potential of the younger population.
        • There are also reports of Myanmar emerging as a human trafficking hub.
      • Economic: 
        • The price of basic commodities increased.In addition, as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war, there was a rise in the cost of fertilisers leading to a shortage in the production of food in Myanmar. 
        • The banking sector has seen a slowdown, with a number of private bank branches closing due to armed resistance and instability, as well as Military Council guidelines that restricted fund transfers and limited cash withdrawals.
        • Since the coup, there have also been concerns over the shortage of electricity and frequent power cuts across the country. 

    Impact on India

    • Issue of infiltration:
      • Incidents of cross-border movements of people and transport of illegal goods were also reported. 
    • Geopolitical issues:
      • It has had an adverse impact on India’s Act East policy, which had since 2014 become more dynamic and result-oriented. 
      • It has negatively impacted India’s initiatives in terms of land outreach towards the vibrant economies of South East Asia and  It has also retarded development in the Northeast.
      • This is creating impediments to the Centre’s overtures for future peace initiatives. 
        • Also, reports of meddling by Chinese intelligence in supporting these militant groups are of concern and demand proactive action.
    • Security Concerns:
      • India’s strategy concerning the military coup in Myanmar comes at the expense of security concerns for the indigenous stakeholders in the NER.

    India’s borders

    • India shares land borders with China, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
    • India’s borders are unique due to the variety of terrains through which these borders pass, namely deserts, mountains, glaciers and forests. 
      • It is obvious that managing such large borders in diverse terrain conditions pose myriad challenges.

    India’s strategy to guard its borders

    • Construction activities:
      • As part of the strategy to secure the borders as also to create infrastructure in the border areas of the country, several initiatives have been undertaken by the Border Management Division. 
        • These include: 
          • Construction of fence, floodlighting, roads, Border Out Posts (BOPs), Company Operating Bases (COBs) and 
          • Deployment of technological solutions along the India-Pakistan, India-Bangladesh, India-China, India-Nepal, India-Bhutan and India-Myanmar borders. 
    • Deployment of troops & surveillance: 
      • The Indian Army and the BSF are deployed in multiple layers to form an anti-infiltration grid. 
      • The border fence and deployment of other surveillance devices have helped in reducing infiltrations. 
    • Along Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar borders:
      • Our borders with these countries are guarded primarily by paramilitary forces, and they have to deal with the smuggling and trafficking of humans, drugs, arms, illegal migration and movement of suspected insurgents. 
      • Porous borders with Bangladesh and Myanmar and open borders with Nepal pose challenges in dealing with these nefarious activities.
    • Drugs Challenge:
      • Drones have proved to be an effective tool in smuggling drugs across the border. 
        • It will take more than mere vigilance on the border to deal with this menace. 
        • Improving our intelligence network within the state to nab the drug dealers on our side of the border must be the main priority of our security forces.

    Way ahead

    • India needs to maintain a close look at the situation at the borders to ensure security. 
      • The increase in violence could further lead to an influx of refugees, which could create an economic and social burden in the Northeastern states.
      • Furthermore, the security of the border states is important given the increasing incidents of drug and arms trafficking.
    • As the country crisis enters its third year, it is important that all stakeholders are at the table to establish a peaceful and long-term solution. 

    Source: TH