First, the idea that simultaneously seeking economic development in conflict area while in ceasefire stage could positively help resolve ethnic conflict assumes that Burma’s ethnic nationalities’ struggles are about material gains and, once they have enough to eat and get to live a comfortable life they would stop fighting.
Secondly, those in the government are seemingly carrying their “superiority complex” with them, thinking that it is their burden, or so they argue, to help develop ethnic nationalities because they are not capable of developing themselves. We can perhaps appropriately term it the “Burman’s Burden,” which is somewhat parallel to Kipling's concept of "the White Man's Burden." In fact, this very “we-will-do-it-for-you” mentality is problematic and antithesis to the spirit of self-determination.
But if the government so want to pursue the policy of seeking economic development and negotiating peace with ethnic nationalities at the same time, it is important that the opposing parties agree on a common approach to economic development especially for projects that are going to be implemented in the areas of ethnic nationalities. Here, the spirit of partnership is key. In other words, ethnic armed organizations need to be a part of and have a real say in every step of development strategy impacting them. Any approach to economic development, at the minimum, should recognize the country’s ethnic diversity and, as such, it should be based on the principles of decentralization and division of authority, recognizing local people’s desire to decide on the kind of development they want. This is because they, the ethnic nationalities, want to share both the responsibilities and the rights to develop their people and their country.
Posted by SI