New Delhi April 6, 2016: The Vice President of India, Dr. Mohammad Hamid Ansari, received a new book titled Democratisation of Myanmar (Routledge), written by Dr. Nehginpao Kipgen, Assistant Professor at the Jindal School of International Affairs, O.P. Jindal Global University. Dr. Kipgen is an American citizen of Myanmarese origin.
Dr. Ansari commended the writer for filling an important gap in understanding why the military in Myanmar and the democracy movement led by Aung San Suu Kyi negotiated the ongoing transition to democracy in their country. He discussed the pros and cons of democratisation that happens through compromise between elites and opposition groups and also asked about the post-election political scenario in Myanmar.
Dr. Ansari emphasised that India-Myanmar relations have a major role to play in the future because both nations are neighbours and they have to work together to fulfill the people’s aspirations. The Vice President also commended O.P. Jindal Global University for producing high quality research output in the social sciences and commented that more scholarship on foreign affairs is the need of the hour from Indian universities.
Dr. Kipgen said democratizing agents such as civil society, elites, external agencies, and institutions all contribute to the political transition from authoritarian regime to democracy in varying ways. However, the transition is systematically implemented in accordance with the military’s seven-step roadmap towards a ‘disciplined and flourishing democracy’. The book argues that military elites tend to be more inclined to relinquish political control when institutional arrangements are worked out in such a way so as to ensure a place for military/authoritarian elements in alternative democratic set-up. Therefore, the transition from a non-democratic regime to a democratic government is possible when contending parties realize their respective limitations and are willing to compromise and work towards a negotiated transition for gradual change.
The topical book studies the process of democratic transition in Myanmar. It outlines the factors that contributed to the political transition in the country and the circumstances in which the transition from military rule of nearly five decades to democracy took place. The author shows how political groups – especially Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) – and the military that had been hostile to the idea and practice of democracy came to work together, paving the way for the political change after protracted struggle. In doing so, the volume examines the role of civil society, elites, external agencies, and institutions in the process of democratic change.
Dr. Kipgen is a Political Scientist whose concentration is in Comparative Politics and International Relations. His general research interests include democratization, democratic transition, global/world politics, human rights, ethnic conflict, identity politics, and foreign policy. His academic research focuses on South Asia and Southeast Asia, with specialization on Burma/Myanmar. Since 2013, Dr. Kipgen has served as a “country expert” on Myanmar for Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem), a collaborative academic research project of the Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg (Sweden), and the Kellogg Institute, University of Notre Dame (USA).
Also present on the occasion were Dr. C. Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University, and Dr. Sreeram Chaulia, Dean of the Jindal School of International Affairs.