IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


25th November, 2023 Geography


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Myanmar is concerned about the conflict in northern Shan State, which has affected Mandalay-based traders.


  • It is a Myanmar state.
  • It shares borders with China to the north, Laos to the east, Thailand to the south, and five administrative divisions of Myanmar to the west.
  • Shan State is the largest of Myanmar's 14 administrative divisions in terms of land size, with 155,800 km2.
  • The state takes its name from the Burmese name for the Tai people, "Shan people."
  • The Shan are the bulk of the ethnic groups who live in the area.
  • The Shan are Theravada Buddhists who speak and write in their own language.
  • The Thanlwin River (also known as the Salween/Namkhong) runs through the state, containing Inle Lake, Myanmar's second-largest natural expanse of water.
  • Shan is mostly rural, with only three major cities: Lashio, Kengtung, and the capital, Taunggyi.
  • Shan State has multiple armed ethnic armies due to its diverse ethnic groups.
  • While the military administration has signed ceasefire agreements with the majority of parties, extensive portions of the state, particularly those easts of the Thanlwin River, remain beyond the central government's control and have come under strong ethnic-Han-Chinese economic and political influence in recent years.
  • Military factions, such as the Shan State Army, dominate other areas.

India-Myanmar Relationship

  • India-Myanmar relations are rooted in shared historical, ethnic, cultural, and religious
  • As the land of Lord Buddha, India is a country of pilgrimage for the people of Myanmar.
  • India and Myanmar relations have stood the test of time.
  • The geographical proximity of the two countries has helped develop and sustain cordial relations and facilitated people-to-people contact.
  • India and Myanmar share a long land border of over 1600 km and a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.
  • A large population of Indian origin (according to some estimates about 2.5 million) lives in Myanmar.
  • India and Myanmar signed a Treaty of Friendship in 1951.
  • The visit of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1987 laid the foundations for a stronger relationship between India and Myanmar.
  • A number of agreements enhancing bilateral Cooperation have been signed between the two countries.
  • Institutional mechanisms for facilitating regular dialogue on a range of issues of bilateral interest have also been established.
  • In 2002, the Indian Consulate General in Mandalay was re-opened and the Consulate General of Myanmar was set up in Kolkata.
  • Following the cataclysmic cyclone ‘Nargis’ which hit Myanmar in May 2008, India responded immediately with relief materials and offers of assistance.
  • India also provided assistance of US $1 million for humanitarian relief and rehabilitation in the areas affected by the severe earthquake in Shan State in March 2011.
  • Of this amount, US$ 250,000 was provided as a cash grant to the Myanmar Government while US$ 750,000 was utilized for the reconstruction of one high school and six primary schools in Tarlay Township that was worst affected by the earthquake.

Major Indian Projects in Myanmar

  • The Government of India is actively involved in over a dozen projects in Myanmar, both in infrastructural and non-infrastructural areas.
  • These include the upgradation and resurfacing of the 160 km.
  • long Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo road; construction and upgradation of the Rhi-Tiddim Road in Myanmar; the Kaladan Multimodal Transport Project; etc.
  • An ADSL project for high-speed data link in 32 Myanmar cities has been completed by TCIL.
  • ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL), GAIL, and ESSAR are participants in the energy sector in Myanmar.
  • M/s RITES is involved in the development of the rail transportation system and in the supply of railway coaches, locos, and parts.
  • In September 2008, the Ministry of Electric Power-1 (MoEP-1) and NHPC signed an agreement for the development of the Tamanthi and Shwezaye Hydro-Electric Power project in Chindwin River valley and NHPC submitted the updated DPR on Tamanthi and is working on the DPR on the Shwezaye project.
  • A heavy turbo-truck assembly plant set up in Myanmar by TATA Motors with GOI financial assistance was inaugurated on December 31, 2010.
  • An India-Myanmar Industrial Training Centre has been set up by HMT(I) in Myanmar with the assistance of GOI in Pakokku, a second center is being set up in Myingyan, while the Myanmar-India Centre for English Language (MICELT), a Myanmar-India Entrepreneurship Development Centre (MIEDC) and an India-Myanmar Centre for Enhancement of IT Skills (IMCEITS) are all operational.
  • Other projects include revamping of the Ananda Temple in Bagan, the upgradation of the Yangon Children’s Hospital and Sittwe General Hospital, the erection of disaster-proof rice silos etc.
  • India has also assisted in the reconstruction of 1 high school and 6 primary schools in Tarlay township, the area worst affected by the severe earthquake that struck north-eastern Myanmar in March 2011.

Commercial and Economic Relations

  • Bilateral trade has expanded significantly from US$ 12.4 million in 1980-81 to US$ 1070.88 million in 2010-11.
  • India's imports from Myanmar are dominated by agricultural items (beans, pulses, and forest-based products form 90% of our imports).
  • India’s main exports to Myanmar are primary and semi-finished steel and pharmaceuticals.

Border trade

  • India and Myanmar signed a border trade agreement in 1994 and have two operational border trade points (Moreh-Tamu and Zowkhatar –Rhi on the 1643 km long border.
  • A third border trade point is proposed to be opened at AvakhungPansat/Somrai.
  • With an estimated border trade of US$ 12.8 mn(2010-11), major items bought by Myanmar traders from the Indian side are cotton yarn, auto parts, soya bean meal, and pharmaceuticals, (reports also about the smuggling of items like fertilizers, vehicles particularly two wheelers, etc.); betel nut, dried ginger, green mung beans, turmeric roots, resin, and medicinal herbs are the main items sold from Myanmar to India.
  • During the 3rd India-Myanmar Joint Trade Committee in October 2008, it was agreed that Border Trade at the existing points would be upgraded to Normal Trade so as to promote bilateral trade between the two countries.

Training Programme

  • Myanmar is a beneficiary of training programs under ITEC, TCS of Colombo Plan, GCSS and MGCSS schemes.
  • The slots for Myanmar trainees in 2011-12 were as follows: ITEC 185; TCS –75; GCSS of ICCR – 10 and MGCSS - 10. Utilization has been excellent.
  • In 2011-12 also, the interest levels were high. We have also offered training to two sets of local journalists who were given intensive training at IIMC, New Delhi by the XP Division.

Indian Diaspora

  • The origin of the Indian community in Myanmar is traced back to the mid-19th century with the advent of British rule in Lower Burma in 1852.
  • The two cities of Myanmar namely, Yangon (former Rangoon) and Mandalay had a dominating presence of Indians in various fields such as civil services, education, trade & commerce during the British rule.
  • According to the 1983 official census of Myanmar, the number of PIOs in Myanmar is 428,428 and the estimated number of stateless PIOs is 250,000.
  • A large number of the Indian community (nearly 150,000) live in Bago (Zeyawaddy & Kyautaga) and Tanintharyi Regions and Mon State and are primarily engaged in farming.
  • The NRI families in Myanmar mainly live in Yangon and are engaged in export-import business or are employees of MNCs based in India, Singapore, and Thailand.


India and Myanmar share a multifaceted relationship that encompasses political, economic, and strategic dimensions. Analyze the historical evolution of India-Myanmar relations, highlighting key milestones and challenges.