A special meeting was held last Monday in Yangon with Foreign Ministers of ASEAN. It was to find a solution to the deteriorating Rohingya situation in Rakhine, Myanmar. Thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been killed and displaced internally and thousands have fled to neighbouring countries, especially Bangladesh. Rohingyas have lived in Myanmar for decades but they are seen as illegal settlers from Bangladesh. They have no legal standing. While the inhuman persecution of Rohingya Muslims has garnered international protest proactively debating for a humane solution to the Rohingya refugee crisis, emerging leaders in the immediate region such as India and China have remained passive on the humanitarian crisis. India and China, the biggest regional powers in Asia sharing border with Myanmar and having vested economic interests in the country owing to investment and trade relations.
India is known for its proactiveness in humanitarian assistance but the spirit seems to be missing in the case of the Rohingyas. If India really wants to rise as a prominent regional power, it will have to rise above its narrow geopolitical and economic interests. Moreover, the crisis bears security implications for India and the region. The miserable, helpless, hopeless and persecuted community of Rohingya Muslims are fertile grounds for recruitment by extremist groups. India is upbeat in pursuing interests of Hindu victims but seems to be unconcerned with the plight of Rohingya Muslims. Is it about religion? Does world only have to speak out when people are stranded at sea in search of land to take refuge and villages are torched or there is a mass genocide?