India promises the moon to Myanmar; Implementation the key

MEA’s Press note on India-Myanmar Cooperation
Prime Minister’s visit to Myanmar is taking place after a period of 25 years (the last such visit was undertaken by PM Rajiv Gandhi in December 1987) and represents a major landmark in bilateral relations.

2.The visit comes at a time when Myanmar is undergoing rapid transformation towards a constitutional democracy after nearly five decades of military rule. India has built a multi-faceted relationship that has gained further strength under the newly elected government over the last one year. The visit of the Prime Minister will enable us to build on our existing ties and leverage this to secure a stronger and mutually beneficial relationship with a neighbouring country that is integral to India’s ‘Look East’ policy.

3.The visit provides an opportunity to enrich the substance of our relations, both qualitatively and in scope, and lay down a long term vision and roadmap for a mutually reinforcing bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas. In this context, several decisions and announcements on new initiatives in the areas of economic cooperation, connectivity, development cooperation, trade and investment promotion, capacity building and human resource development, culture & people to people contacts, and academic exchanges, have been made by the two sides.

4.The projects, inter alia, seek to fill vital gaps in our connectivity and physical infrastructural linkage with Myanmar in the area of highways, railways and civil aviation.

5.During the visit, twelve MoUs were signed. Details of these and other announcements/ decisions during the visit are listed below:

I.Infrastructure and Cooperation Developments

A package of assistance was announced was announced by the Prime Minister during the visit. This includes:

(a)Financial assistance for Border Area Development: The Prime Minister announced India’s support extending financial assistance of US$ 5 million per year for five years for undertaking small developmental projects such as schools, health centres & dispensaries, small roads & bridges, agriculture and agro-processing projects and related training programmes in the Naga Self Administered Zone (in Sagaing Division bordering Manipur) and the Chin State (bordering Mizoram) in Myanmar.

(b)Supply of Bailey Bridges for use in border areas, including in Naga Self Administered Zones to gain access to hitherto accessible areas that would facilitate development of the area.

(c)Construction of Kalewa-Yargyi road sector of the Trilateral Highway:Myanmar side has requested for Indian assistance in the construction/upgradation of the 120 kms of Kalewa-Yargyi road segment as a part of the Trilateral Highway, which also constitutes part of the proposed Asian Highway network. On its part, Myanmar would take up the construction of Yargyi-Monywa road segment. It is estimated that the road would take three years to complete and would allow the proposed Imphal-Mandalay bus service to be operational throughout the year (the road is currently unusable during the rainy season).

(d)Construction/upgradation of 71 bridges along Tamu-Kalewa sector of the Trilateral Highway; The road between Tamu- Kalewa- Kalemyo (TKK), about 160 kms long, in Myanmar has been constructed by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) under the grant assistance of the Government of India. 132 kms have already been completed and handed over to Myanmar in 2009. The remaining 28 Kms is expected to be completed later this year. The Myanmar has requested India for upgradation/ reconstruction of 71 bridges on the TKK Road which are in poor condition and impede the flow of traffic. This would also improve connectivity and facilitate early operationalisation of the proposed Imphal-Mandalay bus service. The project is expected to take three years for completion.


(a)Imphal-Mandalay Bus Service: India and Myanmar have held discussions at the technical level on issues related to introduction of the bus service including the route, frequency, possibility of switching of buses at the border, security, etc. The Prime Minister of India and the President of Myanmar have agreed to introduce a bus service and necessary agreements and infrastructure would be put in place by both sides for operationalising the same at the earliest.

(b)Air: India and Myanmar signed a new Air Services Agreement during the visit of the Prime Minister of India to Myanmar. The agreement provides for expansion of air connectivity between the two countries to cover more carriers, flights and destinations. It provides for 5th freedom rights that would enable our carriers to combine their flights to Myanmar with other destinations in South East Asia and elsewhere. The agreement is expected to lead to enhancement of direct flights, including by private carriers, between India and Myanmar.

(c)Railways: Recognising the need and importance of working towards rail connectivity, both sides agreed to the setting up of a Joint Working Group on Cooperation in the Railway Sector to examine the issues involved in enhancing rail connectivity, the feasibility of movement of freight from India to the South East Asian Region and cooperation in the railway sector between India and Myanmar.


Building upon the extensive developmental cooperation projects that have been taken up under grant assistance to Myanmar, the following initiatives were agreed to and MOUs signed during the Prime Minister’s visit:

(a)MOU on Setting up of an Information Technology Institute: It has been agreed to establish an IT Institute to be named ‘Myanmar Institute of Information Technology (MIIT)’ with India’s assistance. While the physical infrastructure, including building, faculty and technical staff would be provided by the Government of Myanmar, India would supply the equipment, identify a suitable partner institute in India for exchange programs and knowledge sharing, help in formulation of syllabi, course structure, training modules and conduct training programs for the faculty and technical staff through train-the trainer programmes. Indian support in the areas specified would extend for a period of 5 years to enable the Institute to become self-sustaining. Shri S. Ramadorai, PM’s advisor on Skills Development is associated with the Project as advisor for the establishment of the Institute. An MoU on the establishment of the MIIT was signed during PM’s visit. External Affairs Minister of India and the Minister for Science and Technology from the Myanmar side signed the MoU.

(b)MoU on Establishment of Advanced Centre for Agriculture Research and Education (ACARE): Realising the acute need to strengthen agricultural research, education and extension in Myanmar for the overall improvement of agricultural production and productivity, it has been agreed to establish an Advance Centre for Agricultural Research and Education (ACARE) at the Yezin Agriculture University in Myanmar to be implemented by Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI). The ACARE will have the vision of becoming a 21st century institution using cutting edge science along with traditional knowledge and ecological conservation and will primarily focus on three areas, namely breeding of better quality and high yielding crop varieties, facilitating access to advanced technology and awareness of better farming practices; and capacity building programmes for training faculty, technicians and entrepreneurs in modern methods of research, latest techniques and technology adoption & application. An MoU on the same was signed during the visit. The signatories were the Foreign Secretary from India and the Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation from Myanmar.

(c)MoU on Setting up a Rice Bio: In the context of the centrality of rice in the Myanmar agricultural economy and the importance of producing value-added and market-driven rice and rice-related products that would lead to improving food and income security of small farm families, project has been initiated for setting up a Rice Bio Park demonstrating the various techniques in rice biomass utilisation in the Integrated Demonstration Farm at Nay Pyi Taw. The MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), from the Indian side and the Department of Agricultural Research, Ministry of Agriculture of Myanmar (DAR) would be the nodal agencies. The Project is expected to be implemented over a period of four years, involving procurement, supply and installation of all necessary equipment; training of Myanmar personnel in India; deputation of Indian experts for commissioning and for on-the-job training of Myanmar faculty and experts in Myanmar. A MoU on the same was signed during Prime Minister’s visit. Foreign Secretary from India and the Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation from Myanmar side signed the MoU.


(a)MoU on Establishment of Border Haats: During the 4th Joint Trade Committee (JTC) Meeting held in New Delhi in September 2011, both sides agreed on the utility of setting up Border Haats at various locations along the India-Myanmar border. The establishment of Border Haats would benefit people living in the area and would function on the lines of Border Haats already in operation on the India-Bangladesh border. The MoU provides for the setting up of a Border Haat on a pilot basis at Pangsau Pass, Arunachal Pradesh and for the establishment of other Border Haats as mutually agreed upon. Foreign Secretary from India and the Deputy Minister for Commerce from Myanmar side signed the MoU.

(b)Cooperation in the Banking Sector: Both sides have agreed to enhance banking arrangements for the promotion of trade. It was agreed that Indian banks such as the United Bank of India and other interested Banks would be allowed to open representative branches in Myanmar; India would extend assistance to Myanmar in training and capacity building in the financial sector; RBI and the Central Bank of Myanmar would enter into an MoU for currency arrangements and for enhancing cooperation between the Central banks of the two countries. It was also agreed that the State Bank of India or other banks as mutually agreed would provide technical knowhow to Myanmar Banks.

(c)MoU on establishment of Joint Trade and Investment Forum: A MOU on the establishment of a Joint Trade and Investment Forum involving representatives from industry and Government to enhance bilateral trade and investments was signed during the Prime Minister’s visit. The MoU provides for the forum to hold meetings annually, alternately in India and Myanmar, and be co-chaired by one senior business leader of each side. The Forum would monitor and review the existing mechanisms for enhancing bilateral trade and recommend specific measures to achieve the bilateral trade target of doubling trade volume, encourage private sector investments; and provide trade facilitation. The MoU was signed by the Foreign Secretary from India and the Deputy Minister of Commerce from the Myanmar side.

V.Economic Cooperation

(a)A MoU on the EXIM Bank’s US$ 500 million Line of Credit to Myanmar: A new concessional facility of US$500 million Line of Credit (LoC) to Myanmar was announced during the visit of Myanmar President in October 2011. A MoU for operationalisation of the Line of Credit was signed between the EXIM Bank of India and the Myanma Foreign Trade Bank. The Myanmar side identified various areas, like agriculture and irrigation, railways, power, etc. to be covered under the Line of Credit.


India already has a undertaken a number of projects related to training and capacity building. This has been appreciated by the Myanmar side. During the visit, the Prime Minister announced the following:

(i)Increase in ITEC Slots to 500: Prime Minister announced the doubling of training slots under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme to Myanmar from the current 250 to 500.

(ii)Training Programmes for Myanmar Parliamentarians and staff: A programme for training of Myanmar parliamentarians and staff by the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training. The programme is expected to start form June 2012.

(iii)Upgradation of the India-Myanmar Center For Enhancement of IT Skills (IMCEITS) in Yangon: IMCEITS was set up in 2008 with financial assistance from Government of India by C-DAC. Since its establishment, IMCEITS has become a premier institution for advanced ICT training in Myanmar, providing specialised training in disciplines identified by the Government of Myanmar. The Centre is also connected to seven Communication Information Centres through VSAT and has since trained nearly 1300 IT professionals in five ICT courses. It has been agreed that India would assist Myanmar in further upgradation of the Centre, including its IT infrastructure; supply of course material; training/workshops; and new upgraded programs.

(iv)Assistance in production of large Cardamom in Naga Self Administered zone (NSAZ): On a request from the Myanmar side, Prime Minister announced India’s assistance in the production of cardamom in Myanmar. The Spices Board of India would be involved in implementation of the project that includes technological support for commercial production of large cardamom in the NSAZ to be undertaken over a period of four years. The components of Indian assistance include training farmers/NGOs and officials of Agricultural Department of Myanmar which would be organised in two/three locations, and of duration of two days at each location, supply of quality seeds and support to farmers/exporters in establishing market linkage. The support would be extended for a period of four years.

(v)Training of Myanmar Diplomats in Conference Management: At Myanmar’s request, India has agreed to provide training in conference management and logistics to Myanmar diplomats in the context of Myanmar’s preparation for its ASEAN Chairmanship in 2014. In the above context, a training programme is proposed on (i) International Treaties {Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic/Consular Relations, UN (Privileges and Immunities) Act} and (ii) Conference Management. The training is proposed to be in the nature of “Training of Trainers” and conducted for 25-30 participants over 10 working days.

(vi)Setting up of Language Lab and e-Research centre for Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar: At Myanmar’s request, Prime Minister announced India’s support for setting up language labs facilities in Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon and an e-Research Centre in Nay Pyi Taw for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar. It would assist Myanmar as it prepares to take over the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2014.

(vii)Indian Fellowships for Myanmar researchers in Science & Technology: Pursuant to the Programme of Cooperation in Science & Technology for the period of 2012-15, signed during the visit of the President of Myanmar in October 2011, 10 (ten) new fellowships per year have been instituted for Myanmar Researchers to work in Indian Universities and Research Institutions in the areas of Atmospheric and Earth Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Engineering Sciences, Medical Sciences, Mathematical and Computations Sciences, and Physical sciences. These would be offered in the 3 categories- Post Doctoral (6 month), senior fellowship (3-4 months) and visiting fellowship (1-2 months).

(viii)Gifting of Rice Silo at Model Integrated Farm, Nay Pyi Taw: A modern and cyclone proof rice silo that has been constructed with the financial assistance of the Government of India in the Model Farm in Nay Pyi Taw was handed over to the Myanmar side. India had, in March 2011, in the aftermath of the cyclone Nargis extended cash assistance of US$ 2 million for the construction of ten Rice Silos, some of which were inaugurated by EAM during his visit to Myanmar in June 2011.

VII.CULTURAL Cooperation

(a)Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) 2012-2015: A cultural exchange programme for the period 2012-15 was signed during the visit of the Prime Minister to Myanmar. The Programme provides for exchanges including in the fields of art, architecture, archaeology and media and involves the visit of experts, holding of exhibitions, joint seminars, visits of artistes and troupes etc. It would also facilitate cultural exchanges between the States in the North East of India and Myanmar that share close cultural and ethnic affinities.

(b)Gifting of a 16-foot replica of the Sarnath Buddha: Government of India would gift to the Government of Myanmar a 16 foot statue replica of the Sarnath Buddha to be installed at the Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon. The statue will be unveiled in the margins of the International Conference on Buddhism to be organised jointly by India and Myanmar in December 2012. During his visit, the Prime Minister will symbolically unveil a smaller replica (about three and a half feet) of the statue during his visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda.


(a)MoU on Cooperation between Dagon and Calcutta University: A MoU on academic cooperation between Dagon University in Myanmar and the Calcutta University in the areas of exchange of faculty members, students, Administrative Managers/Coordinators, academic materials and other information, joint research activities, participation in seminars and academic meetings, special short-term academic programmes, joint cultural Programmes and study tours of Administrative Managers/Coordinators was signed during the PM’s visit to Myanmar in May 2012. The Vice Chancellor of the Calcutta University signed the MoU from the Indian side.

(b)MoUs on Cooperation between Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (MISIS) and ICWA and IDSA: Both IDSA and ICWA entered into separate MoUs with the Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (MISIS). The MoU envisages cooperation in capacity building, organization of joint events and undertaking research projects of mutual interest. Signing of the MoUs would be helpful in facilitating greater and more frequent interaction on an academic level.

(c)Setting up of an Indian School in Yangon: The size of the Indian origin community in Myanmar is estimated at between 1.5 million and 2.5 million and includes people speaking Tamil, Telugu, Oriya, Bengali, Punjabi and Hindustani. Also, the number of Indian nationals in Myanmar for trade/businesses/projects has also been on the rise. The need for an Indian School in Yangon has been felt given the large number of children of the Indian community studying either in local schools or in private schools in Myanmar. During his visit, the Prime Minister announced India’s support to set up an Indian school with technical assistance of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan to provide children with quality education.