Recently on a visit to Myanmar, India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in diplomatic language that we don’t care if the people of Myanmar are suffering under dictatorship. India would not talk about democracy since it is not one of our exports. Mr. Mukherjee also comically said that democracy is something each country has to decide as if one fine day, the junta would decide to hand over power and fade away into oblivion.
Indian Govt. has also agreed to sell arms to the military rulers without uttering a word about the state of the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi who celebrated her 60th birthday under house arrest. In fact our support of the dictators are worse that when Senior General Than Shwe of Myanmar visited India, visas were refused to a number of speakers who wanted to speak about democracy.
In the most recent State of the Union Speech, President Bush mentioned that United States would continue to speak for the cause of freedom in places like Burma (The US refuses to call it Myanmar). The President also said that he would “continue to awaken the conscience of the world to save the people of Darfur”.
After maintaining silence about Darfur, the word finally appeared in the State of the Union, which is due to the activism by various groups, journalists and movie stars. They believe they can cause the super power to act. Now activists are targeting companies which do business in Sudan like Siemens AG and forcing them to pull out. States like Texas, Nebraska and Colorado have introduced bills, like the one passed in California forcing state pension funds not to invest in Sudan.
These activists know that United States can exert pressure both economically and politically to prevent the genocide. At the same time when Pranab Mukherjee says that he does not care about the state of the people in Myanmar, we have to ask if any change will be caused due to India’s pressure. Our external influence extends upto Katmandu and not a kilometer more. Even that is questionable.
If, God forbid, India starts throwing its weight around, then Myanmar will just become a vassal state of China and nothing will change for the people of Myanmar. Somehow Mr. Mukherjee’s statement give an illusion that we have the leverage to cause a change in Myanmar, but we refuse to. It is vastly different from reality.
(Crossposted on INI Signal)