Following is the interview with Mr.Vijay Kumar Singh, India’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. MNA
Q: First, what is your impression of Myanmar’s democratization process?
A: I feel that Myanmar has embarked on a path towards democratization and that is something India and the rest of the world has appreciated. I’m quite sure that is the right way to go for the people. Very soon, we will start seeing the fruits of this path that has been adopted by Myanmar.
Q: Based on your experience, could you suggest how the people could enjoy the fruits of developments in the future?
A: You see, when democracy comes in, it will be the people who get power and they will get to decide what they want to do. Let me give an example from India. At the village level and the town level, we have the village panchayath or the village institutions, and at the local level you have the municipal institutions. Now they work directly with the people. At the next level you have a state and then assemblies are concerned and you have the representatives of the people who, again, take input from the people and then pass it onto the government so that benefits from the government can pass onto the people. And then you have members of parliament who all see the entire process and gets in the central aid for the states to which they belong.
Now in any democracy, this exists in various forms but ultimately it is the interface of the people with the people whom they have chosen to represent them, which gets them the fruits of democracy and development.
Q: What kind of businesses is India willing to invest in Myanmar and how can we best attract foreign investment into Myanmar?
A: As I see, there are small businesses run by people here that can be boosted. Similarly in India we have what we call the MSME (Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises) sector or the Micro and Small Industry Sector, these are small units in manufacturing or something similar, and they do not require too much of a capital but they provide employment to a large number of people. In Myanmar, there are various sectors which are available, like the electrical or pharmaceutical or infrastructure sector, and the government of Myanmar has to decide what it is they want to develop and which are the areas they want to open up for other businesses to come in. Indian people will be happy to come and invest in Myanmar in conjunction with what the government placed.
Q: Is there any assistance in Myanmar’s peace process and solving the Rakhine issue?
A: You see, the Rakhine issue is an issue that concerns Myanmar and Bangladesh. It has got two parts. One is the humanitarian part and the other is the territorial integrity and how the nation looks at it. We are sensitive to both and we have ourselves available to both Myanmar and Bangladesh to assist them in reaching agreements, ensuring people settle down and ensuring that we give a certain amount of aid to wherever it is needed. We feel that within the perimeters of territorial integrity, the security and safety concerns, long-term settlements and all these issues need to be looked at to solve this problem. And India is ready to assist in any way we are asked to.
Q: Can you tell us about current and future cooperation between India and Myanmar?
A: We have a lot of things going on. We are working in the infrastructure sector, energy sector; we have recently modernized the port in Sittway and we have proposed that let it be tackled as a joint venture with India. There are many areas we would like to cooperate and I think that as a trusted friend of Myanmar, our philosophy is very clear: we will do what Myanmar wants.
Q: Can you tell me your opinion on the past two days’ foreign ministers’ meeting?
A: I was able to meet foreign ministers from Asia and Europe and we’ve contributed to issues that will lead to peace, prosperity and development in both Asia and Europe. There are some things that got highlighted. One was how to tackle terrorism and we’ve said that we require very resolute action where terrorism is concerned. We need to have an approach where we are able to take action against people who support terrorism. We should share information and look at the radicalization that is taking place so that we can make all our countries safe.
We also discussed climate change issues and we have suggested that countries join International Solar Alliance and it will help people getting out of the use of this hydrocarbon and fossil fuels and getting into renewable energy.—MNA