India and Myanmar have a lot of commonness to share. The Northeast of India, particularly the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram share a lot of traditional and ethnic similarities with Myanmar. The tribes living on this side of the border and the other side are of the same origin and share a common history.
India had long historical relationship with Myanmar since antiquity, cultural exchanges included Buddhism and the Burmese script, which was based off the Indian Grantha script. In particular, Theravada Buddhism has tremendously influenced Burmese society and culture for millennia, with 90% continuing to follow the religion to this day. The friendship shared by the two nation is built on trust as much as it is built on emotional connect.
As a natural corollary to the long-standing friendship, both the Armed Forces also share a very close relationship in terms of joint training and operations. However, taking the friendship to a new level, in an unique initiative to encourage more people to people contact, 60 couples from Indian Army’s Eastern Command were recently sent for a two-day tour of Myanmar. The journey began on December 23 and the team came back on December 25. The Indian Army team consisted of Officers, Junior Commissioned Officers, and other ranks, all part of the Eastern Command which means the Indo-Myanmar border. As part of the same programme, 60 Army couples from Myanmar Army were also on reciprocal visit to Bodhgaya during the same time.
“Such visits between the Armed Forces personnel and their families add a new dimension to the already robust mechanism of defence cooperation and pave the way for a long lasting and fruitful partnership between the two countries,” said Col Chiranjeet Konwer, PRO Defence, Kohima.
It may be mentioned that for a short stint, even Myanmar (then called Burma) was a part of British India only to be separated in 1937 again. Later it was the Japanese occupied Burma, from whose soul, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose gave the slogan, “Give me blood and I'll give you freedom”.
Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledged Burma's role in the Indian independence movement, which further boosted diplomatic ties between the two neighbours.