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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Dec 2014

India’s choice of Myanmar envoy indicates tough stand

Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 12, 2013
First Published: 01:46 IST(12/4/2013) | Last Updated: 01:47 IST(12/4/2013)

Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former West Bengal governor and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, is set to lose the much talked-about race for India’s next envoy to Myanmar to career diplomat, Gautam Mukhopadhaya.

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After months of discussion, the government is learnt to have zeroed in on Gautam Mukhopadhaya, presently Indian ambassador to Afghanistan as its next envoy to Myanmar. The official announcement is also expected in due course.

Mukhopadhaya belongs to the 1980 batch of Indian Foreign Service and has substantial experience in Afghanistan. He was tasked with opening the Indian embassy in Kabul after the ouster of Taliban in 2001 as well.

Gandhi is close to Aung San Suu Kyi and was seen by many as the ideal choice for seeing through the “transition phase” in Myanmar, the only south east Asian country India shares a land boundary with. Gandhi has also served as India’s envoy to Sri Lanka and Norway.

With Myanmar poised on the brink of democracy and European countries ending their isolationist strategy towards it, India is set to maintain its hard-nosed pragmatic policy.

This selection of a career diplomat as the Myanmar envoy implies a revival of the same policy that balances good ties with the junta and pro-democracy voices.

Apart from the vital strategic importance of Myanmar to India since China has considerable influence there, it is vital for its Look East policy.


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