Since the 1990s, India and Myanmar have sought rapprochement through geo-economic strategies and discourses. The results, however, have been largely underwhelming. This paper offers an explanation for why this has been the case. We argue that the two geo-economic strategies deployed—sub-regionalism and diaspora-driven trade and investment—require the emergence of particular types of deterritorialised and denationalised citizenship regimes which facilitate the mobilisation of provincial capital and diasporic capital. The development of such social forces in India and Myanmar have been stifled by the persistence of older ‘regimes of citizenship’ associated with geopolitical strategies based on territoriality and pre-existing social hierarchies. In Myanmar, the emphasis on ‘Bamar’ identity has led to a hierarchical citizenship regime which marginalises people of Indian origin. While deterritorialised forms of citizenship have emerged in India as the government seeks to harness the economic power of the Indian diaspora, the target of its policies has been the more socially privileged diaspora settled in the West. Moreover, India’s Northeast has long been constructed as being culturally distinct and prone to ‘disloyalty’ which hinders sub-regionalism. Hence, transforming the relationship requires not just greater political will or technocratic policy changes, but addressing the long-held national anxieties and social hierarchies which underpin India and Myanmar’s regimes of citizenship.
Mathew SparkeIntroducing Globalization: Ties Tensions and Uneven Integration (Chichester: Blackwell2013) p. 289. Mathew Sparke ‘Geopolitical fears geoeconomic hopes and the responsibilities of geography’ Annals of the Association of American Geographers Vol. 97 No. 2 (2007) p. 34; Edward N. Luttwak ‘From geopolitics to geo-economics: logic of conflict grammar of commerce’ in Gearóid Ó. Tuathail Simon Dalby and Paul Routledge (eds) The Geopolitics Reader (London and New York: Routledge 1998).
Andrew Selth‘Burma and the strategic competition between China and India’The Journal of Strategic StudiesVol. 19 No. 2 (1996); Renaud Egreteau ‘India’s ambitions in Burma: more frustration than success?’ Asian Survey Vol. 48 No. 6 (2008) p. 940.
Rahul MukherjiGlobalization and Deregulation: Ideas Interests and Institutional Change in India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press2014); Jørgen Dige Pedersen ‘Explaining economic liberalization in India: state and society perspectives’ World Development Vol. 28 No. 2 (2000); Jalal Alamgir India’s Open-Economy Policy: Globalism Rivalry Continuity (New York: Routledge 2009).
Pranab K. BardhanThe Political Economy of Development in India (Oxford: Basil Blackwell1984); Partha Chatterjee ‘Democracy and economic transformation in India’ Economic & Political Weekly Vol. 43 No. 16 (2008).
Lee Jones‘The political economy of Myanmar’s transition’Journal of Contemporary AsiaVol. 44 No. 1 (2014) p. 14; Kevin Woods ‘Ceasefire capitalism: military-private partnerships resource concessions and military-state building in the Burma–China borderlands’ Journal of Peasant Studies Vol. 38 No. 4 (2011).
Y. Htut quoted in Nayanima Basu‘Myanmar unhappy with India’s “window shopping” attitude’Business Standard27 August 2014; available at http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/myanmar-unhappy-with-india-s-window-shopping-attitude-114082700022_1.html.
Government of IndiaHigh Level Commission on Indian Diaspora Report (New Delhi: Ministry of External Affairs2001) pp. 259–264. This figure includes 0.7–0.8 million Rohingya Muslims who are not granted citizenship by Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Kanwal Sibal‘China’s maritime “Silk Road” proposals are not as peaceful as they seem’Indian Defence Review26 February 2014; available at http://www.indiandefencereview.com/chinas-maritime-silk-road-proposals-are-not-as-peaceful-as-they-seem/.
Amit Baruah‘Looking east’Frontline; available at http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl1724/17240490.htm; Juergens ‘BIMSTEC: an interview with Amb Ranjit Gupta’; Pallavi Aiyar ‘Yunnan model’ Frontline; available at http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2321/stories/20061103000306300.htm.