India has always celebrated its successes, as indeed would many countries, both in its domestic and foreign policy, around the principles of democracy, secularism and Mathama Ghandi's principles of non violence. While India today boasts of its secular ideals, and perhaps rightly so, it has sadly betrayed Ghandi's adherence to non violence in its support for the military Junta in Myanmar (Burma). On September 23, 2007 as demonstrators were gathering in Rangoon and other cities, Indian minister for oil was in Myanmar signing three agreements on oil exploration and quite blatantly ignoring the uprising of the monks without making a single reference to the trouble on his return home.
Today India runs a trade surplus of US$400 million with Burma, largely made up through the export of military hardware and ammunition. Faced with growing influence of China with the Myanmar regime, India, ten years ago, commenced it policy of engagement with the regime in Myanmar. While China, being a non democratic country can be expected to do no better, but India? Interestingly the Indian press and public support the pro democracy movement, a fact that the Indian government continues to ignore.
India cannot go on sitting on the sidelines and ignore the role it must play in bringing about change in a country where guns and ammunition supplied by New Delhi are mowing down peace loving Buddhist monks. It is time for a change in policy and it is clear that unless China and India do not change their policy on Burma, the chances are that there is little than the world community can do to help the pro democracy movement. While changing perceptions and policy is China are next to impossible, India on the other hand as a conscious to answer for, a conscious that seems woefully lost on its own leadership.