Myanmar: Limping On

Interesting post about Myanmar in the China Law Blog:

As months go by we become more and more convinced that the biggest harm the military did to the society, the offense that will take the longest to remedy, was the wholesale destruction of the secondary education system that began in earnest in the mid-1990′s. Foreign companies coming into Myanmar are exasperated by the aggregately low levels of skill found in recent college graduates. The short term solution is to work with who you can get, and train the hell out of them, and hope to retain them.

As the writer says, the on-going Buddhist on Muslim violence in the west, and the Kachin rebellion in the North East, aren’t doing much to attract business either.

Intense fighting between the Burmese military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has reportedly killed at least four government soldiers this week, Kachin rebel sources say, with hostilities flaring on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Irawaddy

Across the country in the west, in the remote Chin state, the Burmese army has been accused of using rape as a weapon by a brave group of women.

Myanmar Stop Rape

The Myanmar government since 2009 has been accused of abusing human rights and using forced labor in the area.

To keep the pot stirred, the Government recently promulgated a proposed Religious Conversion bill, for public comment — which comment is strongly orchestrated by a group of Buddhist monks called the Organization for Protection of National Race and Religion. According to Human Rights Watch

it meant “any Burmese citizen who plans to change religion must seek a series of permissions from local representatives of government departments, including the Ministries of Religion, Education, Immigration and Population, and Women’s Affairs, and wait 90 days for permission to be granted.”

India apparently is unphased by the troubles, however.  The new government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ramping up relations with Myanmar, with which it shares 1,643 km border.

I particularly liked the mention of a “Buddhist circuit”

The Buddhist circuit could also become an important link in the air connectivity, with services from Yangon to New Delhi and then on to Bodh Gaya in Bihar, Buddhism’s holiest site where Gautam Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment more than 2,500 years ago.

 

Perhaps with more visits to the Gautama’s birthplace the nationalist monks would find their way back into the heart of his teachings.

Beyond that

India is involved in important connectivity projects with Myanmar, including the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project, building and upgrading 71 bridges on the Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo road and construction of Kalewa-Yargyi section of the Trilateral Highway which envisages a seamless link between India, Myanmar and Thailand by 2016.

The India-Myanmar border trade is also picking up. Two border trade points are operational at present — at Moreh in Manipur and Tamu in Sagaing region in northwest Myanmar, and Zowkhatar (Mizoram) and Rhi in Chin state in Myanmar. A third border trade point is proposed to be opened at Avakhung in Phek district of Nagaland with Pansat/Somra in Myanmar.

The border trade between India and Myanmar touched $36.2 million in 2012-13. Bilateral trade stands at $1.9 billion.

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