Moral ambiguity on the Rohingya (The
Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level: Not Much
Mains level: India stand on rohingaya crisis
- India’s abstention from voting on a UN Human Rights Council draft
resolution, in March this year, on the “situation of human rights in
Myanmar” needs closer examination.
- Co-sponsored by the European Union (EU) and Bangladesh, the resolution
“expresses grave concern at continuing reports of serious human rights
violations and abuses in Myanmar”, particularly in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan
States, and calls for a full inquiry into these by the Council’s own
mechanism and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
- In its follow-up explanatory statement, India’s permanent representative
to the UN in Geneva, Rajiv Kumar Chander, said that it would “only be
counter-productive” to support “extensive recommendations regarding
legislative and policy actions” and “threatening Myanmar with punitive
action, including at the ICC, to which that state is not a signatory”.
- India continues to toe Myanmar’s line on the issue, which harps on the
“complexity” of the whole situation, lays emphasis on economic development
rather than political rights for the Rohingya, lays stress on internal
inquiries instead of international mechanisms, and even refuses to call the
Rohingya community by its name.
- In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not even publicly condemned
the horrible atrocities that the Rohingya have faced at the hands of
Myanmar’s security forces.
- On his last visit to Myanmar in September 2017, he simply expressed
concern at the “loss of lives of security forces and innocent people due to
the extremist violence in Rakhine State”.
- There was no reference to the excessive and arbitrary force used by
security forces on Rohingya civilians in response to the “extremist
- India, for its part, continues to maintain ties with the Myanmar armed
forces (Tatmadaw), supplying them with combat hardware and imparting UN
- An edition of the India-Myanmar bilateral army exercise, IMBEX 2018-19,
took place this January at Chandimandir.
Arms and business ties
- According to the arms transfer database of the Stockholm International
Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India is one of Myanmar’s top arms
suppliers, and weapons sales includes military aircraft, artillery, naval
vessels and reconnaissance equipment, armoured vehicles, anti-submarine
torpedoes and missiles.
- One analysis by the Dutch advocacy group, Stop Wapenhandel (Stop Arms
Trade), claims that India transferred combat equipment in violation of
- India’s core logic here is to “modernise” the Tatmadaw with the intent
of securing its 1,640-km plus border with Myanmar and forge a sustainable
strategic partnership at China’s doorstep.
- But, in this inflexible realpolitik approach, there is little space for
end-user accountability and human rights.
- Whether Myanmar is using some of its India-supplied weapons to maim
non-combatant civilians in Rakhine State and other ethnic regions is a
question that New Delhi has not asked so far.
- Further, Indian companies continue to invest in Myanmar, with several
having direct links with Tatmadaw-owned businesses.
Through Dhaka’s lens
- India has so far refused to exert any pressure on Myanmar, instead
choosing to balance ties with Dhaka and Naypyidaw by sending humanitarian
aid to both.
- But India’s soft, backfoot approach is being increasingly seen by
Bangladesh, which is hosting nearly a million Rohingya refugees, to be
tilted in Myanmar’s favour.
- Instead of just pushing one-time economic aid into Bangladesh and
Myanmar, India could have forged a regional ‘compact’, much like the Jordan
Compact on Syria, to ensure sustained humanitarian assistance in addressing
the short- and long-term needs of the displaced Rohingya population.
- This would have ensured uniform donor interest and better monitoring of
where aid is going to.
- Instead, India has deported (or refouled) more than a dozen Rohingya
refugees from its own territory back to Myanmar, in violation of
international and domestic legal norms.
- Using the geo-economic leverage that it enjoys with Myanmar, India could
compel Myanmar to bring the alleged perpetrators of war crimes to book or at
least get a guarantee that such conduct would not be repeated in the future.
- But New Delhi does not want to corner Aung San Suu Kyi, whose own
relations with the Generals remain dicey.
- For now, India is happy to be in a stable, but morally tenuous,
friends-with-benefit relationship with Myanmar.
- The victims continue to be the stateless Rohingya.
Q.1) With reference to the cotton scenario in India, consider the
1. India has the largest area under cotton cultivation.
2. The Cotton Corporation of India Ltd (CCl) is the nodal agency for undertaking
price support operations for cotton.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.1) How India can tackle Rohingya issues with its neighboring countries?
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