Myanmar is reeling from the brutal impact of a cyclone that swept through the country this week. The death toll could be more than 22,000. Food is scarce. Cities have been paralysed. The military regime’s critics are, quite correctly, asking why Myanmar’s soldiers have been so ineffective when it comes to helping people, but were so efficient against protesting monks in September 2007.
What should India do? The government has sent emergency supplies by ship and air. And then what? One option is to let the junta stew in this crisis. The other is to arm-twist the generals to negotiate with opposition groups—or even grab a few oil deals from under China’s nose.
But, this is a humanitarian crisis that should not be used as a negotiating lever. Anyway, such tactics rarely work, while the lack of food and medical supplies makes things worse for citizens. The strategy did not work in North Korea. It will not work in Myanmar. Humanitarian aid is all that is needed right now to help the battered.