DIBRUGARH, Feb 20 - A special lecture on ‘Current Economic Issues in Myanmar, 2019’ was organised by the UGC Centre for Studies on Bangladesh and Myanmar, Dibrugarh University recently. It was delivered by U Khin Maung Nyo, a noted economist and former faculty member in the Yangon University of Economics, Myanmar.
With over 60 books published in Burmese on education, economy, business and youth development, he has delivered lectures at Universities, Ministries, National Defence College, Chamber of Commerce and academic institutes in Myanmar and abroad.
A Senior Fellow at the Centre for Economic and Social Development and Senior Advisor at the Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies, U Nyo also served in the Prime Minister’s Office until 2006. A member of the National Minimum Wage Committee in 2017, he has, moreover, participated as Advisor to the Government Group at the Second Peace and National Reconciliation Conference, 2017, in Myanmar.
Initiating the programme, Prof DK Chakraborty, Coordinator, UGC Centre for Studies on Bangladesh & Myanmar, Dibrugarh University, welcomed the dignitaries and highlighted the current research activities undertaken by the Centre in the field of Area Studies, with special emphasis on Myanmar. He informed the house about the successful completion of the recent overland field visit to Myanmar by himself and Dr Ambuj Thakur, a faculty of the same Centre, covering aspects like connectivity, Assamese diaspora in Myanmar, local handicraft industries and agriculture. He buttressed the point on how little we know about Myanmar despite being neighbours. In his opinion, the economy of the neighbouring country is an interesting case study since its problems related to poverty, low levels of GDP and HDI, unemployment etc., are similar to what we face in our north-eastern region. Dr Ambuj Thakur introduced the speaker, U Khin Maung Nyo, to the audience.
Delving into the meaning of the name ‘Myanmar’ as a ‘quick and strong’ state, U Nyo underlined the multiple factors involved in the process of building up the nation, state and democracy in the country currently. Though Myanmar was designated as a Least Developed Country in 1987 due to its weak economy, with improving indicators in the fields of GNI per capita, HAI and EVI since 2018, he was hopeful that by 2024 it would graduate to a developing country status. However, in the process of this economic transition, he felt that there has to be a robust information dispersal mechanism to allay any misgivings and fears among the people of the country. Though still vulnerable to external shocks even now, the gradual improvements in the economy has resulted in optimism within international agencies like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund respectively. A big challenge for the country was to bridge the gap between the different stakeholders while sharing their enthusiasm in the process of nation and state-building respectively.
Regarding India’s “Look East” or “Act East” Policy, he expressed the view that Myanmar feels that although the definition of “East” for India includes the whole of ASEAN and East Asia, yet he felt that India ‘looks’ beyond Myanmar when it says “Look East” and the same is in case of “Act East”. The most important concern regarding India-Myanmar relationship is of low connectivity between the two countries. He also stated that the amount of Indian investment is very low in Myanmar which is also another reason for the weak relationship between the two countries. The most important reason for low level of Indo-Myanmar border trade according to U Nyo is the limited number of permissible tradable goods due to which there is huge amount of informal trade taking place along the border. The point to be noted, he said, that India is viewed positively by everyone in Myanmar. He ended on a positive note saying that the time is ripe for India to take steps to strengthen its relationship with Myanmar.