Why India is silent over extension of Daw Suu Kyi’s House Arrest?

Long years ago in 1952, when India’s illustrious and noted foreign policy expert – Mr. K.P. Karunakaran wrote his insightful marvelous work on Indian Foreign Policy entitled – “India in World Affairs: August 1947- January 1950”, he rightly proposed that, “India’s contribution to the awakening of Asia was significant, India holds a unique position in the continent, and strategically she is so situated that she cannot be ignored in a consideration of any major problem.”[1] Further, while explaining the core ingredients of Indian Foreign Policy direction, he elaborated ethical values of Indian Foreign Policy for future generations of Indians and writes that, “India’s pursuit of peace is determined not only by her self-interest but by the idealism which her present administrators imbibed from Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, during the country’s struggle for freedom,” and he quotes India’s first Prime Minister – Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech given at the Columbia University: 

“Means and ends are thus intimately and inextricably connected and cannot be separated…The great leader of my country, Mahatma Gandhi, under whose inspiration and sheltering care I grew up, always laid stress on moral values and warned us never to subordinate means to ends.”[2] 

Although, from 25th of May 2007 onwards, when world was reacting strongly everyday from Asia to Europe, and from North America to Africa against Burma’s ruling military junta – SPDC’s unfortunate draconian decision of extending the house arrest of people’s queen – Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of golden land, India was silent like – China, departing from the path shown by Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and very aptly reminded by scholar – K.P. Karunakaran in 1952. Now in a fast changing world on materialistic principles, Indian leadership at centre also succumbed to pursue economic means at the cost of our own moral and ethical democratic values enshrined in our foreign policy objectives.  

Yes, China can afford to support a totalitarian regime in Burma as Chinese communist ideology of Mao supports one party dictatorship in the name of democracy of proletariats and also to those regimes which has very rich record of killing many comrades like – SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) and earlier SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) did with Burma’s communist movement. But whether India can follow the role model of China in establishing new order in Asia has to be critically evaluated? Following China’s path in Asia and Africa of dialectical materialism, we have already lost the leadership role in Asia as well as in
Africa. Now, when Daw Suu Kyi’s house arrest extended, who believes in Nehruvian philosophy and considers Gandhi as her political Guru, India remains silent and interestingly ASEAN founding members – Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines reacts against the Burma’s military dictatorships decision. Earlier India’s leadership role in Afro-Asia was recognized as the founder of Non-Alignment Movement, and her role in the many of United Nations General Assembly sessions based on democratic principles. Now,
Thailand has taken the role of leading Asia through Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Forum. It seems that, official foreign policy advisors of Government of India sitting at South-Block in New Delhi are working like management professionals of Corporate Houses, advising central leadership in the context of plus and minus of economic benefit of uttering any word against SPDC in Burma; that, if they say even a word against military junta we might lose such number of oil wells exploration rights and certain economic benefits of reaching ASEAN through Burma. However they don’t know, that the strength of India does not lie in acquiring oil wells in Burma, which could be also acquired at Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and in other parts of the globe, but the strength lies in the status of leading Third-world nations on ethical and democratic values enshrined in our constitution to establish a world order based on freedom from fear. It is interesting to note, that, when founding members of ASEAN – Thailand can react strongly against the detention, and when another founding member – Indonesia can come out openly against Myanmar on 28th of May 2007 together with Philippines, that, “By this act, Myanmar has tarnished the image of Southeast Asian neighbours and called on the ruling junta to release the Nobel Peace laureate – Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” further, Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman – Kristiarto Legowo said, that, “The extended detention has hurt the democratization process in Myanmar and it has also tarnished the good image of ASEAN,”[3] then, what prevents India to come out openly against SPDC in Burma? 

If Indian leadership is considering Burma under SPDC as only route to ASEAN, then they are doing fatal mistake of giving leadership of Asia to China.India has to realize its own strength, and if they rely on her own principles, ASEAN and ACD would walk with her together with western world, which has been already facing Chinese syndrome of dialectical materialism of dominating every sphere of economic activity as well as of politics. Nehru was knowing this fact, that the Afro-Asian nations knows that, India’s cultural heritage and tradition of non-violence and truth rests on giving and not on taking & controlling everything like – Communism of China, so he went with India’s enshrined principles of democracy and established India’s position as a leader of the Third-world.  

Sardar Patel’s warning of going against Democratic Principles and  Chinese influence on Burma: 

Apart from Nehru, India’s other towering personality and builder of Modern Indian Nation, popularly known as “Iron Man of India” for his contribution of integrating Indian States and former Deputy Prime Minister – Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, while writing to all the Chief Ministers of States (Which he used to write regularly on fortnightly basis) about the danger of authoritarian regime on the context of developments of Chinese communist revolution, wrote on 03rd of November 1949 (it is also applicable to military regime in Burma), “Democracy, if it is to survive a clash with totalitarian ideology, must display cohesion, discipline, integrity and political honesty; it must also be eternally vigilant in defence of those basic principles of democracy, without which its foundations cannot be well and truly laid. The developments in China, therefore, are a warning and an example from which we all can profit, if we have the will and the desire to learn.”[4]   So the problem which Indian foreign policy is facing, that, how to react against a newly developed friendly military totalitarian regime (after a hard efforts by foreign policy management professionals work to bring it at the level of constructive engagement ) was  solved long ago by Sardar Patel.  

Moreover on 07th November 1950, Sardar Patel wrote to Jawaharlal Nehru about China’s danger, that, “Recent and bitter history also tells us that communism is no shield against imperialism and that the communists are as good or as bad imperialist as any other. Chinese ambitions in this respect not only cover the Himalayan slopes on our side but also include important parts of Assam. They have their ambitions in Burma also. Burma has the added difficulty that it has no McMahon Line round which to build up even the semblance of an agreement. Chinese irredentism and Communist imperialism are different from the expansionism or imperialism of the western powers. The former has a cloak of ideology which makes it ten times more dangerous. In the guise of ideological expansion lie concealed racial, national or historical claims.[5]  Interestingly, Sardar Patel’s vision about democratic India’s leadership role in Asia could also be found later in America’s greatest leader – John F. Kennedy’s speech of November 1959, in which he says, that,“The real battle between India and China is not the recent flare-up over Chinese troop movements around disputed boundaries. Nor is it the war of words over China’s  annihilation of
Tibet.The real India-China struggle is equally fierce but less obvious –less in the headlines but far more significant in the long run. And that is the struggle between India and China for the economic and political leadership of the East, for the respect of all Asia, for the opportunity to demonstrate whose way of life is the better.[6] And it is for Indian leadership to understand that departing from our own democratic principles by supporting infamous military regime, whose way of life, India is promoting? On June 1963, at the United Nations General Assembly India’s former Scholar President – Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, outlined India’s future task as, “Our task today is to deal with the souls of men; it is there that the changes have to be brought about. Before outer organizations are established, inward changes have to take place. An outer crisis is a reflection of an inward chaos, and if the chaos inside the minds and hearts of men…is not removed, we cannot bring about a more satisfactory world order.”[7] 

Freedom Balloons over Rangoon: 

Apart from the world over protests against the regime, the greatest among all was the courageous protests led by 88 generation student groups together with National League for Democracy party workers at Rangoon on 28th of May 2007, in a Gandhian non-violent manner for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. About 350 people lit candles and chanted “Free Aung San Suu Kyi” and released more than 100 balloons carrying the same slogan of “Free Suu Kyi” into the skies above Rangoon.[8] These balloons could be remembered as Freedom Balloons in Burma in their struggle against freedom from fear. 


It is still not too late to say wrong to wrong and right to right. When Australia can afford to join international protests against the decision of extension of house arrest of Daw Suu Kyi by military junta after their significant investment by Danford Equities Corporation signed in November 2006,[9] then why not India can come out openly to say big no to the regime? Apart from Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, South African voices, Japan, USA, UK, EU nations; Australian Foreign Minister – Mr. Alexander Downer’s statement is a welcome step, in which he says, that, “I am saddened and disappointed by the decision of the Burmese regime to once again extend the detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for a further year.”[10]  

A week ago, India’s two former Prime Minister, Mr. V.P. Singh and Mr. Chandrashekhar already appealed to the military regime with 59 other head of states to release Daw Suu Kyi.[11] And now it is turn of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister – Mr. Manmohan Singh to act fast on Burmese military regime to regain fast loosing ground of leadership of Asia to China.  



[1] KP Karunakaran, India in World Affairs: August 1947-January 1950, Geoffrey Cumberlege Oxford University Press (Issued under the auspices of The Indian Council of World Affairs),Calcutta, 1952, p33.

[2] Ibid, pp.23-24.

[3] Indonesia calls for Suu Kyi’s Release, The Brunei Times, Brunei, 29th of May 2007.

[4] Sardar Patel’s Correspondence,1945-50: Foreign Policy in Evolution – Constitution-making-Political and Administrative Problems, Volume – 8, Edited by Durga Das, Navajivan Publishing House,Ahmedabad, India, 1973, p.387.

[5] Sardar Patel’s Correspondence,1945-50: Acute Power Struggle-Triumph of Mutual Accommodation – Warning against China, Volume – 10, Edited by Durga Das, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, India, 1974, pp.337-338.

[6] John F. Kennedy, The Strategy of Peace, Edited by Allan Nevins, Popular Library, New York, 1961, pp.177-178.

[7] Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Mahatma Gandhi and One World, Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, New Delhi, 1994, p.9

[8] Burma Pro-democracy activists rally in Rangoon, The Nation, Bangkok, Thailand, 28th of May 2007.

[9] Australia’s Danford Equities signs oil-gas exploration deal with Myanmar, International Herald Tribune, 11 November 2006.

[10] Australia urges Myanmar junta to release Suu Kyi, The Peninsula, Qatar, 29th of May 2007.


[11] Thai Media Slams Extension of Suu Kyi’s House Arrest, UNI, New Delhi, 26th of May 2007.

(The End) 


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