TODAY -

Opening of Moreh-Tamu Border Gate

Dr. Puyam Rakesh *



I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. ---Jimmy Dean

Change is the only constant and we all are part of it. One such change is the opening of Indo-Myanmar border for greater engagement with the neighbouring countries. India and Myanmar signed the Land Border Crossing Agreement on May 11, 2018, during a visit to Myanmar by Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj. Following this, the Moreh-Tamu and Reedhorda-Zokhawthar immigration check points were opened on August 8, 2018. This is a progress towards establishing connectivity from Moreh in India to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar. The Trilateral Highway project will provide overland transport connectivity between India and South East Asia region.

Answering to a Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 1510 in August 2013 about opening land route to Myanmar, the Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs Preneet Kaur responded saying that “Government attaches high priority to promoting connectivity between India and South East Asia.” The initiatives taken up to open land routes to Myanmar and South East Asia would enhance border trade, tourism, people-to-people contacts and economic development of the border areas. It is a reality today.

The Moreh-Tamu border check point allows people holding passports and valid visas to enter and exit the check points thereby facilitating flow of people across the Indo-Myanmar border. According to an official data published by the Global New Light of Myanmar on October 6, 2018, the total number of foreign tourist entry from Tamu gate is recorded at 206. The composition of the travelers is 152 tourists and 54 businessmen. The people-to-people contacts will continue to expand after signing the Motor Vehicle Agreement and launch of the Imphal-Mandalay bus service.

 Opening of Moreh-Tamu Border Gate
Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar



The annual ‘Lai Haraoba’ festivals in Myanmar connect the Manipuris on both sides of the border. Youngsters from Manipur are visiting the neighbouring country to celebrate ‘Thingyan’ (New Year festival of Myanmar). Besides, the small film industry in Manipur has contributed to the cross-border cultural exchange through the production of ‘Mandalay Mathel’, a digital Manipuri film. A few tourists from Manipur have explored the beauty of cities such as Sagaing, Mandalay, Yangon and Inle Lake in Shan State, Myanmar. But these are the low-hanging fruits.

However, the real fruits of opening the Eastern Gate will come with trade, investment and educational exchanges. As we are talking about ‘Act East Policy’ we need to talk about the real business. Out of 54 businessmen who crossed the Tamu gate in September 2018, how many are sons and daughters of Manipur? The ruling heads in Manipur need to work on policies that can be implemented on the ground for short- and medium-term benefits. The theme should be economic productivity of Manipur.

Myanmar means business under India’s Act East Policy. On September 27-28, Myanmar Vice President Henry Van Thio toured Sagaing Region and inspected construction of road, dams and border check-points. The team inspected the site of the Mu River Bridge construction in Ye-U and the upgrading works of Yagyi-Kalewa Road and 69 bridges on Kalewa-Tamu Road with the Government of India providing US$54 million. The project for upgrading road and bridges is scheduled to start in 2018 and complete them by 2020.

In fact, the Tamu-Kalewa-Monywa road section will constitute an important section of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway. The team also visited the Tamu-Moreh border trade post in Sagaing Region where Myanmar Vice President said:
Manipur State has a population of more than 2.5 million, who depend upon goods from mainland India and exports from the Myanmar side. As such there is an opportunity to increase exports, all need to work together toward increasing the amount of exports. The market requirement of the other side needs to be continuously observed and, in addition to trade, travel business needs to be considered. Departments from the two countries are to coordinate changes that would result in ease of obtaining visas.


Following his tour in Sagaing Region, in early October, Vice President Henry Van Thio inspected the proposed site of a new bridge across the Manipur River in Falam Town, Chin State in Myanmar. The team also visited the site of the Manipur multi-purpose dam project. The Manipur River is the largest tributary of the Myittha River in Myanmar. Myanmar is planning to provide irrigation water to about 80,000 acres of farmlands and generate 380MW electricity from this project. However, no public discussion has been held in Manipur over the implications of the dam in Myanmar which is linked to Manipur’s lake and river ecosystem.

Manipur government needs to work on tapping the tourism potential of the state by building WWII tourist circuit connecting WWII sites in Myanmar and Northeast India. Loktak Lake in Manipur can have lake twinning (sister lakes) with Inle Lake in Shan State. Our productivity is far behind that of Myanmar and other Southeast Asian countries. The focus should be on making policy to encourage productivity and export from Manipur under the Act East Policy. This can be brought only when the government works sincerely to deal with the anti-entrepreneurial culture in our society.

Manipur lacks entrepreneurial culture and the cultural inertia is stopping the youths from scaling higher in life. A healthy intervention by the government to encourage entrepreneurship and to keep the educated youths away from white collar jobs is the only way for Manipur. According to experts working on connection between culture and entrepreneurship, only when incentives change, culture responds. Becoming a successful entrepreneur should be the dream of many of our youths. Without the entrepreneurial attitude that encourages risk-taking and innovation in economic activities, the future of our society depends on imports from mainland India and the Myanmar side as rightly articulated by Myanmar Vice President Henry Van Thio.


* Dr. Puyam Rakesh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at khuman_mei(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on October 10, 2018.



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