The Republic of Union of Myanmar is situated in South Asia bordering India, China, Bangladesh, Thailand and Laos. The country is famous for ancient civilization remains and historical monuments. The women in earlier times used to wear rings around their neck since they were born and these rings are added with the passage of time. This does not alter their necks’ shape but definitely lowers the shoulder bone as a result of which their necks are exceptionally longer. The currency of this state is Kyat and most of the population is Buddhist. They serve rice with everything and judge health with level of fat a person has accumulated. The economy is mainly agriculture driven. It is a relatively safe country with low crime rate. People have to carry cash along as there isn’t proper banking setup in Myanmar with few ATMs and even fewer credit cards. (Interesting Facts about Myanmar)
The country started off as a democratic state but democracy was derailed in 1969 by General U Ne Win. His rule lasted for twenty six years in which the economic conditions became worse as corruption deteriorated the roots of every establishment and food shortage hit people badly. The protests began killing thousands of innocent people and finally another military coupe ended this regime. During this time Daw Aung San Suu Kyi rose as the prominent leader but she was jailed and then later house arrested for more than 15 years. She got freedom in 2010 and fought the presidential elections of 2016; however she lost to Htin Kyaw but she still will retain position in assembly and continue with her peace movement for which she won Nobel Prize as well. The new government will take charge on 1st April but army will still exert great force on governmental affairs since it controls the defense affairs of the state.
Having established that Myanmar is an agriculture dependent country (59% of GDP), we know that weather conditions play a crucial role in determining each year’s produce. In 2015 Myanmar had floods and landslides in its peak agriculture months as a result of which crops were destroyed and economy received massive hit. Inflation shot up as prices of commodities went up due to shortage of supplies. The government called for support from international communities as it could not handle this all by itself. Myanmar is considered to be a relatively poor country with per capita income not increasing to a great pace. Industrial development has huge obstacles of power shortages and lack of credit resources as a result of which industries could not flourish and take over economy as the major source of income. The roots to all economic problems lie in the policies of 1960s when General U Ne Win took over and started isolation Burma from the rest of the world. These policies made country heavily agrarian and lack of completion and market failed to provide incentives to industries to develop. (Asian Development Outlook 2015 Update: Enabling Women, Energizing Asia, 2015)
The military regime oppressed people and did not give them freedom of speech not only this they also fueled ethnic violence and put a ban on teachings of other ethnic beliefs. The isolation policy also hid many of their social problems like hiring underage children in military due to insufficient man power available to suppress the nation, use of children in illegal occupations. In 2012 the ethnic violence erupted between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in which government failed miserably in protecting the rights and lives of minorities and even the Nobel Peace Laureate was silent on this issue, many Muslims were killed and so many others were made homeless. Education and health are undeveloped as major portion of budget is allocated to military and less on other social sectors. (Eimer, 2012)
Since 2010 Burma’s/Myanmar’s economy started opening up and with that technology transfer began, although the mobile penetration is at 4% and internet at 2% but there is hope of that number increasing to a significant something. Apart from communication means development American company Cisco has paved its way to this country, many marketing and advertising agencies have identified this region as future growth driver. Foreign telecom companies have been allowed to transform government’s vision of “Smart and connected Myanmar” into reality. Myanmar was once the world’s largest rice exporter and centre for garment manufacturing but military regime and US sanctions took the status away from them. Now when the door to development and progress has opened once again then Myanmar should try to benefit as much as possible from the situation. (Bradford, 2012)
The most pressing environmental issue with the country is deforestation and illegal logging with the international companies coming in the issue is expected to soar up even higher. Environmentalists and protectionists have started raising the concerns in front of government so much so that President Thein Sein put a stop to a dam project not only this the increased economic activity has made other projects like Dawei Special Economic Zone and Letpadaung copper mine questionable. Literacy rate and ease of access to information have made people sensitive and aware about the rich heritage of their country and the danger it is in.
The legal and judicial system is corrupt to the core and in no state of protecting the citizens and foreign investors. They have been bribed in the past by military to feed their own interests and hence the whole institution has lost its credibility and soundness. Economy can flourish when people have faith in the system that whatever belongs to them will not be taken away by force or unfair means and they will be provided help and support to grow. Myanmar’s new government has to make sure that it takes steps and make policies that are necessary to win back everyone’s trust.
Asian Development Outlook 2015 Update: Enabling Women, Energizing Asia. (2015, September). Retrieved March 23, 2016, from Asian Development Bank: http://www.adb.org/publications/asian-development-outlook-2015-update-enabling-women-energizing-asia
Bradford, L. (2012, November). Looking Forward: Technology in Myanmar/Burma. Retrieved March 23, 2016, from Laurence Bradford: http://laurencebradford.com/looking-forward-technology-in-myanmar/
Eimer, D. (2012, September). Aung San Suu Kyi says Burma faces huge social problems. Retrieved March 23, 2016, from The Teloegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/burmamyanmar/9553065/Aung-San-Suu-Kyi-says-Burma-faces-huge-social-problems.html
Interesting Facts about Myanmar. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2016, from Travelling Myself: http://www.travelingmyself.com/2014/03/28/interesting-facts-about-myanmar-burma/