India and its neighbours: Current scenario

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In their respective Independence Day speeches, President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had underlined the importance of containing external threats to safeguard the integrity of the country. While Pakistan continues to engage the Army in Kashmir and insurgents infiltrate the porous and volatile border, there have been other disturbances. News of Chinese incursions in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh are no new matter, as China carries on with its policy of provocatively aggressive expansion.

India is a vast geographical nation-state sharing borders, both land and maritime, with several countries. Not always are these neighbours disposed to maintaining friendly relations with India, and vice versa. Policy and utility directs the nature of interactions with these countries.

In the wake of the recent 'fencing' incident which involved Burmese troops erecting a fence on disputed land at Manipur, where the border lies vague and leads to confusion, here is a look at India's relations with its considerable neighbours as they are, and have tended to be.

MYANMAR

Myanmar is located south of the north-eastern Indian states of Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland, and is the only land passage from India to South East Asia.

A few days ago, at the border at Moreh in Manipur, Burmese troops crossed the line and entered the Holenphai village to erect camps, claiming that the region belonged to Myanmar and that work would not be stopped until the field commander received orders otherwise from higher authorities. This is a considerably new development, and authorities from the Indo-Myanmar Border Fencing Committee (IMBFC) set up by the Indian Government said on a visit that certain sections of the border are not clearly defined and that neither India nor Myanmar individually held the answers for this, stressing on the need for comprehensive talks to settle the issue. Locals complained installing fences was dividing civilian structures and giving the Burmese an opportunity to extent their territory. The smuggling of arms and drugs across the border draw large revenues and finance illicit businesses.

In 2011, the rule of military junta in Myanmar was replaced by a civilian government and democracy, and although India was not emphatic in its support for democracy during the course of the struggle by the pro-democratic faction against the authoritarian junta, and the military retains significant influence, this opened more avenues for co-operation and conflict resolution.

Strategically, Myanmar is important to India as it looks to counter Chinese presence in South East Asia by creating

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