Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna recently visited Myanmar, the first high-level trip since Myanmar's military junta installed a nominally civilian government last year. In an email interview, K. Yhome, a research fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, discussed India-Myanmar relations.
WPR: What is the recent trajectory of India-Myanmar relations?
K. Yhome: India-Myanmar relations have come a long way since New Delhi adopted a pragmatic approach toward Myanmar in the early 1990s. Even as relations began to improve with important initiatives taken to step up security and economic cooperation, such as joint military operations and border-trade measures, the two sides remained cautious in their approaches toward each other. It was only after 1997, when Myanmar joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), that bilateral relations were redefined, and both countries demonstrated their confidence in taking relations to new heights, marked by frequent high-level exchanges, increased trade and security cooperation, and important infrastructural projects. Myanmar extended its support to India's membership in an expanded U.N. Security Council, and India endorsed the junta's "roadmap to democracy." The momentum slowed in mid-2010, when Myanmar staged highly choreographed elections, only to be put back on track by the recent visit of India's external minister to Myanmar. India-Myanmar relations are likely to deepen further as realpolitik guides India's policy towards its eastern neighbor and Myanmar uses India to counterbalance China.