Myanmar in India’s Intertwined Idealism – Realism Foreign Policy: A ‘Modified Structuralism’ Perspective

Azman Ayob


In discussing India’s Myanmar foreign policy, we need to understand India’s psyche concerning the Asian region as a whole. Since its independence in 1947, India had been using the Ghandhian-Nehruvian philosophy of non-violence and peace in its relations with Myanmar and other Asian countries. India’s engagement with Myanmar was based on its idealistic self-conception as a major and civilised power from geographical and cultural perspectives, promoting peace, non-alignment, and democracy. India tried to promote democracy in Myanmar by becoming a staunch supporter of pro-democratic movements in Myanmar, financially and logistically after 1988. However, India’s democratic stance in Myanmar is seemed to have shifted, as since 1993 onwards India established a close relationship with the military government of Myanmar because of India’s own economic and geo-strategic interests. Theoretically, this foreign policy phenomenon in India-Myanmar relations is looked upon from a “modified structuralism” perspective. This theory argues that foreign policy decision makers of a state or government operate in a ‘world of sovereign states seeking to maximize their interest and power’ but under some conditions choose to transcend ‘individualistic calculations of interest.’ This article is trying to look into how “modified structuralism” is used to explain India’s foreign policy behaviour towards Myanmar.

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