India and Myanmar share close historical, civilisational, cultural, religious, linguistic and ethnic ties

A consignment containing 1.5 million doses of COVISHEILD vaccines will reach Yangon on Friday. Myanmar is one of the first countries to receive India’s gift of the “Make in India” COVIDSHIELD vaccines, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

Myanmar is an important land and maritime neighbour of India with which India shares close historical, civilisational, cultural, religious, linguistic and ethnic ties. Myanmar is a vital component of India’s “Neighbourhood First” and “Act East” policies. The momentum in the bilateral relations has further strengthened over the years.

Last year on April 30, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephonic conversation with Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar, during which PM Modi had conveyed India's readiness to provide all possible support to Myanmar for mitigating the health and economic impact of COVID 19.

Cooperation between the two countries has continued, despite COVID-19 related challenges. A series of high level meetings have helped in sustaining the momentum in bilateral ties, including in the ongoing connectivity projects, energy cooperation, defence and security cooperation and capacity building.

In June 2020, on the sidelines of his visit to Moscow, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had a meeting with Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar Defense Forces.

India-Myanmar Foreign Office Consultations were held on October 1, 2020 through virtual mode which was followed by the visit of Foreign Secretary and Chief of Army Staff to Myanmar on October 4-5, 2020. The 7th Ministerial level Joint Trade Committee was held virtually between the countries on November 24, 2020.

In December 2020, a high level health delegation from Myanmar visited India and met with their counterparts to seek cooperation in the field of vaccine delivery, training on clinical trials, and other areas of research & development in health sector. Both sides are also in discussion on holding clinical trials of Indian vaccines in Myanmar.

There is a wide appreciation in Myanmar on India providing vaccines to the country. State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in her new year address had mentioned this.

In line with its “Neighbourood First” policy, India has extended COVID related assistance to Myanmar in two tranches worth Rs 9.380 crores. In May 2020, the first tranche consisting of medicines, medical equipment worth Rs 8.526 crores (over US$ 1 million) was provided. The second tranche consisting of vials of Remdesivir was provided during the visit of Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Chief of Army Staff Gen M M Naravane to Myanmar in October 2020.

India and Myanmar have also been cooperating in the repatriation of nationals through the Vande Bharat flights. To date, 16 flights have operated under VBM and assisted more than 1307 Indian nationals from Myanmar.

India also has facilitated repatriation of close to 300 Myanmar nationals stranded in India.

India has continued with assistance through ITEC programmes during the lock-down. From April 1 – 30 October 2020, 12 e-ITEC online courses were conducted by the various institutes viz.

AIIMS; PGI Chandigarh, National Centre for Good Governance, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie, Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences and witnessed participation of Myanmar Government officials and officers.

As part of India’s ‘science diplomacy’ initiative for strengthening clinical trial capacity for Phase-III clinical trials of Indian COVID-19 vaccine candidates in neighbouring countries, e-training courses have been organized by the Department of Biotechnology for the medical health professionals from the neighbouring countries, including for Myanmar.

Under the G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, India had extended debt service relief to Myanmar till December 31, 2020. Additionally, for the previous year, India also eased certain restrictions and quota limits for the import of Urad and Tur daal from Myanmar.