Sunday, January 27, 2013
28-1-2013 Myanmar envoy job for Suu Kyi sympathizer
NEW DELHI: The government might be "sounding out" former governor of West Bengal and Indian envoy to South Africa, Gopal Gandhi as the next Indian envoy to one of India's most important neighbours—Myanmar. Quite apart from the fact that it might take away an ambassadorial post from the IFS, there is some disquiet within government over the possibility.
India's investment in Myanmar is now at an all-time high, and sources said the Indian envoy would have his hands full pushing India's economic, political and strategic linkages in Myanmar. India has identified Myanmar as its gateway into southeast Asia, and to many strategists India's growing presence in Myanmar is seen as a counter-balancing force to growing Chinese influence there. India also has huge security interests inside Myanmar, and over the years, the Myanmar government has worked silently with Indian security forces to target anti-India insurgent groups.
The Indian ambassador's job is therefore, very crucial to not only push Indian interests in that country, but also to walk a very delicate political line. This attribute has become important for the government after the Indian high commissioner in Maldives was accused of taking sides in domestic politics. While the official line is he was only pushing Indian interests, post-facto assessment in the government is more sobering.
Successive Indian governments have built a deep relationship with the military government in NayPyiDaw. Beyond the national interest it is also based on the fact that India believes the military will be there for a while, and that confidence lies behind the military's comfort-level with the Indian government.
Gandhi is known to have sympathies with Aung San Suu Kyi. Despite India's almost personal connections with Suu Kyi, India has officially been careful to keep protocol in view, in 2012, when Prime Minister manmohan Singh visited Yangon, he was careful to ask Suu Kyi to visit him at his hotel. All other visiting dignitaries have travelled to her lake-side home to see her.
India's ambassador to Afghanistan, Gautam mukhopadhyay, generally regarded as one of India's finest diplomats had reportedly been considered for the job, one that has acquired higher profile in recent years.