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Background

Both Myanmar and India have numerous ethnic groups within their societies. India has countless numbers of ethnic groups within their society, and they manage to have a stable democracy. While yes, there is discrimination between different groups, it has not resulted in a total government break down and seizure by the military, or genocide.

Myanmar, on the other hand, has much less ethic diversity, yet seems to be intolerant toward several ethnic groups, especially the Rohingya. Both India and Burma were under British rule as one colony and were exposed to the systems they set up there...yet India did not have a sustained military coup(s) that Myanmar had and currently has, nor did they carry out genocide like Myanmar did. The numerous similarities and proximity of India and Myanmar led me to ask...

Question

Why is Myanmar less democratically stable and more ethnically intolerant than India?

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    Those seem like 2 separate questions. As Don Hosek points out, India fractured in two over religious lines almost immediately after gaining independence. I'm also not sure it's a fair comparison on the democratic stability front. Myanmar has been a solid military dictatorship since 1962 – is a democracy that collapsed once and never recovered unstable, or just non-existant? – divibisan Feb 19 at 2:02
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The Muslims of India might beg to differ with your assessment. Remember that post-colonial India originally comprised what's now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The partition of India was a significantly bloody event which resulted in possibly as many as two million deaths as well as the displacement of ten to twenty million people. There are continued ethnic tensions in India with Hindu nationalism being a particular concern not to mention the continued international conflicts between India and Pakistan (and to a lesser extent Bangladesh).

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First, "democracy" and Myanmar are not an obvious match. Any system in which the army has a reserved number of seats in Parliament starts out with a democratic deficit. Doubly so when the country had been essentially under martial law for the last 50-60 years and only allowed some level of civilian controls recently.

Second, their circumstances are not as similar as you might think. Trying to figure out what drives Burmese army participation, it turns out that they have on occasion been under foreign threat.

In the 1950s, KMT forces from Taiwan, with US backing, invaded Burma to attack Communist China.

Finally, India is not as strife-fee as all that. The Gujarat Riots saw 2000 Muslims lynched (after a previous torching of Hindu pilgrims in a train). Who was that state's Chief Minister at the time, and who got accused - and acquitted - of doing little to stop things? Why, Modi, of course.

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If ethnic composition is the only parameter for the stability of democracy then many more democracies are in a much greater disadvantage. The stability depends on the quality of Leadership and Institution. Indian Military forces are lead by professional soldiers and well isolated from politics. The resiliance of India is also defined by the outlook and quality of leaders particularly the leaders during independence.

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    I would add luck to that. Some countries have bad governance in good times and recover. Some countries have bad governance in difficult times and spiral downwards. – o.m. Feb 19 at 6:18

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