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Domestic Politics and International Relations


Baladas Ghoshal

INTERNAL CONFLICTS IN MYANMAR: TRANSNATIONAL CONSEQUENCES
Edited by V.R. Raghavan
Centre for Security Analysis, Chennai, 2011, pp. 264, Rs. 795.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 8-9 August-September 2011

One of most serious problems that the ruling elites faced in the ex-colonial and newly independent countries is the integration of ethnic, religious, linguistic and diverse groups living within a territorial state structure created by the colonial masters for their own convenience through their policy of divide and rule. Another problem that had serious ramifications for the domestic politics and foreign policies of these countries is what the late M.N. Srinivas called ‘people living on the wrong side of the border,' i.e., overlapping population in the borders of these countries, again a consequence of arbitrary creation of territorial states by colonial rulers. The result is not only internal contestation for political space, power, access to economic wealth and equal opportunities for each of the groups living within the territorial state structure, but these conflicts spilled over beyond boundaries to other states because of ethnic, linguistic, religious and other similarities, complicating those conflicts even more having trans-border consequences affecting other states.. The conflict situations in certain countries have also influenced the geo-politics of the region inviting international concern for reducing and diffusing tensions and in some cases an attempt to censure the ruling regimes not only for their failure to resolve those internal contradictions within their societies, but also for aggravating those conflicts by the pursuit of regime and sectarian interests at the expense of greater good of their people and citizens. Some countries, like India, where nationalism was directed not just toward an opposition to colonial rule but also to devise ways of finding a vision of their independent country and a mechanism to resolve various contradictions both vertical and horizontal, however, were able to reduce internal conflicts to a manageable proportion and create a nation out of a colonial state. Burma or what is now called Myanmar by the ruling junta was not fortunate in that respect. For one, its national movement was not a continuous one against the colonial rule of Britain as it was interrupted by the Japanese Occupation during 1942-45, the interregnum that created a military political culture among a section of the Burmese political elite persisting even in the Independence period on sustaining military politics and rule in that country. For another, the party that emerged in the post-Independent period as ruler and mediator of the disparate groups living within the country, the AFPFL (Anti-Fascist Peoples Freedom League) was not only a ...


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