17 May 2019
Thesis Examination: India’s Kaladan Transnational Development Project and its Confrontation with Social Movement in Western Burma
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RCSD Center, Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University is pleased to invite you to participate in a Thesis Examination

“India’s Kaladan Transnational Development Project and its Confrontation with Social Movement in Western Burma”

Presenter: Mr. (June) Nilian Sang, M.A in Social Science (Development Studies)

Examining committee

Dr. Jennifer Leehey, (Consultancy researcher)

Asst. Prof. Dr. Amporn Jirattikorn, (Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University)

Dr. Mukdawan Sakboon, (Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University)
Friday 17th May 2019 from 13.30 p.m.
Subaltern meeting room, basement floor, Operational building
Faculty of Social Sciences

Kaladan Project is a transnational development project implemented by India in Western Burma and India’s Mizoram. The Project primarily aims to seek alternative transport linkage between mainland India and its Northeast Region through the Burma’s most remote regions: Arakan and Chin states. While also seeking to promote economic cooperation with Burma, Kaladan Project is also understood as part of India’s Look East Policy (LEP) or Act East Policy (AEP) implementation, which pursue regional integration with Southeast Asia. Hence, this study initially explores policy behind implementation of Kaladan Project. Being a transnational project, it comprises three modes of transport –– sea route, river route and road route –– by passing through territories of three different ethnic groups from two countries: Arakanese and Chin territories in Burma and Mizo territory in India.
Civil society groups representing different ethnic groups from different regions had witnessed several impacts of Kaladan Project on the livelihoods of local people living along the Project implementation areas. The merger of ethnic based civil society groups is significant to claiming social responsibility during the Burmese political transitions. Kaladan Movement, the alliance organization of three different civil society groups from India and Burma namely CHRO, ARN and ZIF seeks responsible project and people-centered development while recognizing the potential positive outcomes from the under-implementation project. Therefore, this study highlights the factors driving the emergence of social movement and the activists’ choices in tactics and goals in response to the Kaladan Project implementation.
This study employs qualitative method with multi-sited ethnography, and has three major themes: first, to understand the policy behind implementation of the Project, and second, how this implementation has caused social movement, and finally, how the social movement have shaped the implementation. This study is drawn on three major concepts: Regional Integration, Social Movement, Political Opportunity and Resource Mobilization. The Regional Integration conceptualizes India’s attempts to integrate with Burma and Southeast Asia with its economic and political interests, and its competition with China in the region. Social Movement, Political Opportunity and Resource Mobilization are drawn to conceptualize the civil society movements on Kaladan Project in order to identify the referent objects, tactics, advantages, challenges and outcomes of the movement.
The development of Kaladan Project has many interesting features behind the scene. In the macro level, India’s paradigm shifts in foreign policy and economic model following the collapse of the USSR in early 1990s is central to the root cause of India’s pursuit of regional integration while seeking alternative transport linkage between mainland India and its Northeast Region (NER) is the cause of China’s threats in the region. Thus, for India, seeking regional integration and alternative linkage to its NER go hand in hand. In pursuit of alternative transport linkage and regional integration, this study found out that implementation of Kaladan Project will help India achieve three goals: development of its NER, promotion of relations with Burma, and counterbalancing China’s presence in the region.
In the micro level, implementation of Kaladan Project has triggered both concerns and expectations for the local people. While many people foresee the positive outcomes of this upcoming new integration, there are also intense concerns for immediate impacts and long-term consequences, and hence, this Project has caused social movement. Nevertheless, the form of this movement is unique as the activists seek responsible implementation instead of halting the Project. This choice of non-resistance movement is mainly because the activists foresee the potential benefits for the local people living in the borderlands. Scholars note that social movement need available resources in order to achieve its goal. While the available material resources are vital for the Kaladan movement, the non-material resources such as the skills possessed by the activists’ negotiation skills, media skills and other educational skills, and their ability to mobilize resources are central to achieving their goals. Hence, this this study concludes that even though Kaladan movement have faced many structural challenges under the ongoing Burmese political transition, the movement has contributed a symbol of non-resistance movements in Burma and contemporary social movement studies as they have transformed the nature of Kaladan Project implementation.

:: Your attendance is highly appreciated ::