Archive for June 2007

Burmese Expatriates:Dollar Earners or Great Patriots?

June 28, 2007

On 18th of June 2007, the official daily newspaper of ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) in Burma – The New Light of Myanmar published an article entitled, “To Dollar Earners” written by Ba Toe (Taunggya Kaladet), accusing all democratic Burmese expatriates as well as Burmese people working in the broadcasting stations of Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Radio Free Asia (RFA), Voice of America (VOA) and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) of working against national spirit and dancing on the tunes of western nations to earn dollars. It also compared democratic Burmese expatriates and broadcasters as monkeys and thieves turned into Sadhus. However these sorts of articles are not new in The New Light of Myanmar and often appear as a unique selling proposition to perpetuate military rule in Burma.   

Recommendation of Noble Peace Prize for Tatmadaw!   

Interestingly for a moment the article tries to sympathies with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi by writing, that, “The opposing groups and expatriate destructive elements have been always saying words repeatedly in praise of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. I wonder whether they are truly in support of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi or they are attempting to destroy the country citing her as an excuse. Or are they trying to put the government in trouble or difficulty? In fact, you are trying to take over the throne or the seat of power while pushing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi onto the stage,” as if SPDC has now turned as a real well wisher of Asia’s symbol of democracy? However the author can’t control his real objectivity of negating Daw Suu Kyi’s role in modern Burma’s history and going to the extent of recommending noble peace prize to his mentor – SPDC, rather than Daw Suu Kyi, comes to the point by incarcerating her while saying, “Actually, the Myanmar Tatmadaw deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for making peace with the armed groups large and small. But the prize was awarded to Daw Suu Kyi who had not done anything for peace but stuck to the policy of confrontation and acted accordingly,” and compares her as a thief turned Sadhu. Although, it is not for the first time that, SPDC themselves projected as candidate for Noble Peace Prize, even earlier articles were written in the New Light of Myanmar advocating SPDC as a true claimant of Nobel Peace Prize rather then Daw Aung San Suu Kyi making mockery of world’s respected institution.  So Norwegian Nobel committee and its secretary and director of the Nobel Institute – Geir Lundestad should take note of recent claims made by SPDC people like Ba Toe to award noble peace prize to General Than Shwe for confining Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in detention since last seventeen years and keeping more then one thousand political prisoners in inhuman prison conditions in the tasks of nation building. However the author – Mr. Ba Toe forgets that a few months back, one of his friends – Mr. Maung Po Hmat wrote a long article entitled, “Nobel Prize that has become a tool of neo-colonialist” on 12th January 2007 in the New Light of Myanmar (pp. no. 8-9) and another friend – Mr. Pauk Sa wrote an article entitled, “Peace Prize or Interference Prize” on Nobel Prize in the same newspaper – “The New Light of Myanmar” on 13 January 2007 (page no.7) abusing Nobel prize committee, and considering it as a tool of interferences of neo-colonialists designs like he abused Burmese expatriates. Mr. Ba Toe took all preventive measures in his article, while recommending Nobel peace prize to SPDC, by abusing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Burmese expatriates, so that he might also not turn out as an expatriate for recognizing institution of Nobel peace prize.           

Dollar Earners or Great Patriots?

Now the questions comes that, whether democratic Burmese expatriates are really dollar earners or great patriots? As far as my experience of meeting many Burmese people in India as well as abroad are concerned, lives in a very harsh condition, away from home since last so many decades. For these many Burmese peoples earning of a dollar is a Herculean tasks and even maintaining their family is a difficult job. They have a difficult but beautiful national dream to turn Burma into a real democratic nation, which their own protector – SPDC in the name of Tatmadaw fails to facilitate by keeping Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under detention despite United Nations Secretary General’s call and ASEAN’s wishes. It is difficult because three major players of world politics – China, Russia and India, competing with each other, are providing legitimacy to the military government in power, falsely in the name of geo-strategic position of Burma in Southeast Asia. Falsely, as air attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 has demolished the concept of naval supremacy in making any nation important in power-politics and started an era of Air Force supremacy, that, those who would rule the sky will rule the strategic results, likewise lessons of US-Iraq war in March 2003 has proved that, those who would excel in Space and advanced information technology (because most of the advanced weapon’s are based on these technologies), would change easily the geo-strategic configurations in their favour in the case of eventuality of war.   

SPDC thinks that, by continuing their rule and abusing their own people and leaders like Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Tin Oo, Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi, they are doing a great national service. However SPDC missed to understand that, leaders like – Daw Aung San Suu Kyi doesn’t born everyday in any nation’s history, like it is very difficult to resurrect Mahatma Gandhi in India and John F. Kennedy in USA despite people’s desires.  

More importantly, SPDC’s also failed to learn lessons from their two large neighbours that, what important role the Indian Diaspora and Chinese Diaspora are playing in both the nation’s development? However, military rulers lacked these visions to comprehend, because of their prejudiced draconian policy against Burmese expatriates. The Burmese expatriates, who could become brand ambassadors through RFA, DVB, VOA, and BBC in world economy are facing consistent abuse and forced to leave from their loved homes. In addition they are forced to leave for their independent opinion, patriotism and love for Daw Suu Kyi & perseverance for genuine democratic transformation in Burma.  

SPDC says that, Burmese expatriates are working hand-in-glove with vested western nations to establish neo-colonialism in Burma. But at the same time, they also demand lifting of western economic sanctions and accuse expatriates and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi responsible for economic sanctions. If western nations are so bad, then why SPDC need’s lifting of economic sanctions? And, if western civilization is so neo-colonialist, then why you participate in the proposals and meetings of Asia-Europe Meetings (ASEM) and signs agenda of ASEAN’s cooperation with West? And more importantly what is the need of maintaining embassies’ with huge government costs in European and North American continent? SPDC themselves know that no nation in present scenario can live in isolation of world economy and scientific developments. In the present globalized world sharing of knowledge is norms of the day and migration of skilled people doesn’t always result into brain drain but also facilitates dialogues among civilization.  The pathetic condition of Burmese expatriates in India’s northeastern states, in Delhi as well as in Malaysia, Thai-Burma border and elsewhere in globe can be easily visited and watched with pain (the recent plight of 228 asylum seekers and refugees from Burma in Malaysia on 25th June 2007 reported by SUARAM –suaram.net is an important example). Because of SPDC’s bad economic management, their savings in Kyat will bounce in world money market and off course earning dollars is not an easy task as the article presumes. Military in any nation has certain roles to play; they can’t do the jobs of economist, space scientists, software experts, agriculturist and governing political-civilian administration? They can fight with weapons for protection of the nation, which many a times Tatmadaw did as part of their great national duty. But for a long time, if SPDC would involve military into civilian administration, it will start loosing its vigour of discipline, which is required for any nations military.  

Conclusion: 

Those Burmese expatriates, who now work in RFA, DVB, VOA, and BBC, are pursuing journalistic careers and jobs standing for genuine democracy in Burma and not small patriots compared with Tatmadaw. Rather accusing Burmese expatriates as dollar earners, SPDC should look under their own sleeves and policies. SPDC’s diplomatic skills would be realized in grand success, if they work to formulate their policy in tandem with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s world vision. So that, Burmese expatriates working in RFA, DVB, VOA and BBC naturally become harbinger of economic growth in Burma. Any of present SPDC’s General’s representing Burma on the stage of UN, ASEAN, Asia Cooperation Dialogue and any regional & international organizations summits and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on stage has vast difference in terms of impact of individual personality in world politics, which tatmadaw fails to understand, the role of individual in history. The personality of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, which could have utilized to raise Burma at world forums and take Asia near to European Union’s development, is languishing in house arrest. By keeping her in detention and not allowing NLD to even meet her, SPDC is harming themselves, Burma and Asia’s development in long run distancing the continent from other part of the globe. I’m sure that even Indian Prime Minister – Dr. Manmohan Singh would accept (without any malice and disregard against him) that, there is a difference of impact in comparison with personalities like – Jawaharlal Nehru, Mrs. Indira Gandhi speaking at international and regional summits and any other Indian Prime Minister speaking at those summits; whatever reforms President Hu Jintao carry in China, he can’t become Mao Tse-Tung.    

(The End) 

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Indian Parliament and Burma’s Question of Democracy (Part-II)

June 19, 2007

photo-courtesy by Nyo Tun-Burma Digest.jpg

 (U Nu and Mahatma Gandhi, Photo Courtesy: By Nyo Tun, Burma Digest: www.burmadigest.wordpress.com

The lack of coherence in promises expressed in the Indian Parliament on Burma’s question of democracy and its practice of closeness with the military regime has resulted into providing legitimacy to SPDC, rather then fulfilling the objective of realizing true democracy and broad National Convention in Burma. Although, Indian government has regularly conveyed in its Ministry of External Affairs press briefings as well as in the Parliament, that, they want to see more broad based inclusive process of National Convention. But the SPDC didn’t bother to listen to their advice; however, India continued with the policy of engagement. For those who advocate engagement with military regime, it is a wonderful policy of pursuing realistic approach and serving national interest, but in reality; it is a journey of falling into a long booby-trap. And the advocates of so called realism are far away from the realistic vision of India’s strategic interest. It is like trusting a Cat for safekeeping of milk pot. On 31st of May 2007, Assam Rifles inspector-general (South) Maj. General BK Chengapa had accepted that, “Illicit flow of weapons from Myanmar is fuelling Manipur’s insurgency,” and further Senior Assam Rifles officials stressed that, “The disturbed environment in our neighbour (Myanmar) has led to the inflow of arms and drugs in Manipur, which, in turn, facilitated insurgency and terrorism in the state.”[i] Rather then relying on our own strength, the realistic diplomats find solutions of north-east insurgency, drug trade, small weapons smuggling through engagement with military regime. With the lack of government accountable to the people, the military commanders posted at border outposts inside Burma knows, that, no one is their to check their illicit money making business in facilitating illegal trade. India rather then putting a strong genuine pressure on SPDC for democratic reforms started finding solutions through negotiation with bounced cheque owners of Burma. It also for a while trusted, military junta, a Bhutan type joint military operations against insurgent groups, without giving the thought, that the friendship with Bhutan is a long enduring one and closeness with military is a diplomatic move put forward by SPDC to gain legitimacy of their rule at international and regional forums. How much desperate is SPDC to legitimize their rule gets reflected in their greetings message to any nation of the world on their national day regularly published on page no. 1 of their official mouthpiece- the New Light of Myanmar.  

 

Recently published article entitled, “Beyond the Chicken’s Neck: Indian National Security in Burma,” by Christopher Smith[ii] on 18th June 2007 (Mizzima News) rightly points out about India’s concern of strategic security interest in Northeastern states but it fails to capture the true nature of SPDC’s  regime, whose word’s couldn’t be trusted. His article also points towards outdated theme of idealism in contemporary society dominated by materialistic values and necessity of Indian engagement with Burma’s military regime. However he again misses to understand that idealism never dies. Any nation is built upon its historical traditions and legacies, without idealism any nation is only skeleton in its geographical entity. As far as the sensitive twenty kilometer area of corridor is concerned as chicken’s neck connecting India’s northeastern states; India has crossed that stage of conventional warfare system. Now one kilometer stretch or thousand kilometer stretch could be controlled, if one has got satellite tracking system of weapons and advanced stage guided missile technology, which India has. So chicken’s neck is an old phrase doesn’t have utility in modern warfare.

 

 Last year, when Indian President, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had been visiting Burma from 8th of March to 10th of March, the former foreign secretary, Mr. Shyam Saran briefed the media on 7th of March on the impending visit of honourable President. And Mr. Shyam Saran replied to one of the questions related with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, that, “We do believe that her welfare and her release would be very helpful in terms of the process of democratization that Myanmar itself is engaged in. Being the daughter of General Aung San who in a sense is regarded as the father of modern Myanmar, She has a certain standing and I think due respect and position should be given to her. We believe that she can contribute to the emergence of Myanmar as a democratic country, as a member of the international community.”[iii] However later, the visit of President planned to reach US $ one billion trade targets with Burma’s military regime rather then facilitating Daw Suu Kyi’s release. Moreover in the year 2005, When an honourable member of Lok Sabha from Tezpur constituency of India’s northeastern state – Assam, Mr. Moni Kumar Subba, belonging to the present ruling Indian National Congress Party, asked the Minister of External Affairs that, “Will the Minister of External Affairs be pleased to state – (a) the details of the steps taken by the Union Government with the help of ASEAN to restore democracy in Myanmar; (b) Whether the steps have proved fruitful; (c) if so, the extent to which the situation has improved; and (d) the reaction of Myanmar thereto? And the Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. E. Ahamed replied briefly on 27th of July 2005 like a taped message of a tape-recorder, which India is playing regularly after its great move of constructive engagement policy, “(a)-(d): Government of India has consistently supported the process of dialogue, political reform and national reconciliation in Myanmar. We have offered Myanmar assistance in building constitutional institutions and a democratic polity. We have not sought the assistance of any regional grouping in this regard. The Government of Myanmar has assured us of its commitment to building a modern, democratic state suited to Myanmar’s needs and conditions.”[iv] However Burma never acknowledged Indian offer in framing of constitutional institutions as India helped and accepted by Royal Government of Bhutan in its transition towards democratic polity. In reality Burma had been never serious towards democracy and the proposed final National Convention in July is a sham process and an eye wash to the world community.  

Although rather then trusting concern of a veteran congress leader from Northeastern state of Assam – Mr. Moni Kumar Subba, Ministry of External Affairs is engaged in organizing seminar on 16th of June 2007 at Shillong (Meghalaya State) through its newly established Public Diplomacy Division on the theme – ‘Look East Policy: Geography as an Opportunity’. And India’s External Affairs Minister – Mr. Pranab Mukherjee is upbeat in saying that, “”By integrating the Northeast through cross border market access, it can become the bridge between the Indian economy and what is beyond doubt the fastest growing and dynamic region in the world, due to the paradigm shift from state centralism to interdependence and global and regional cooperation. India is aware of the geo-economic potential of the Northeast as a getaway to East and South East Asia.”[v] The Public Diplomacy office in the Ministry of External Affairs was established last year in May on the American pattern of department of public diplomacy to educate and influence global and domestic opinion on key policy issues and project a better image of the country commensurate with its rising international standing as well as to sensitize, inform and influence think tanks, universities, media and academician.[vi] However the Public Diplomacy office took the American name but didn’t take in practice the functioning of the US office. In the United States, Public Diplomacy office is run by Congress views, but here the department frames policy in practice on views based on Indian Foreign Services (IFS) people, who joins the ministry after an all India competitive examination of graduation standard, in which, some are from medical stream, some might from engineering or some from Social Sciences and humanities.  Moreover these IFS people remains in charge for few years at particular country desks and they themselves doesn’t know that one fine morning, when they would be moved to another country desk. However now they have become so mature to teach lessons of foreign policy nuances to academicians, journalist, think tanks, who devoted their whole life in particular country and surpass veteran parliament member’s views. So the ultimate result is making great image of India world over on Burma’s democratic question betraying those whom you yourself awarded – 1993 Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1995, Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Award in 1996, Distinguished Alumni Award of Delhi University in 1997 and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Deshprem Award in 2007. 

In the year 2002, When Members of Lok Sabha, Mr. Ram Mohan Gadde and Dr. MVSS Murthi asked from the Minister for External Affairs about India’s role in the Conference of Community of Democracies held at Seoul (from November 10-12, 2002), then Minister for State of External Affairs – Mr. Digvijay Singh replied, that, “India reiterated to promote world over exercise of power in accordance with the rule of law, holding of free and fair elections, separation of powers and constitutional subordination of all states institutions, including the military, to the legally constituted civilian authority,” further he pointed in his reply, that, “Issues discussed related to measures to promote democratic ideals, responding to threats to democracy, education for democracy, role of media and promoting democracies through good governance.”[vii] However the commitments expressed at Seoul had never seen democratic light and ideals in India’s new Burma policy. Probably these sorts of conferences are arranged to make big very big inspiring statements in the name of democracy and one of the biggest forum is United Nations General Assembly sessions, which is permitting Burma to be a member of UN despite UN working group on Arbitrary Detention’s four times ruling that, “Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention is arbitrary and in contravention of three provisions of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.”[viii] 

Moreover in the year 2000, When a Rajya Sabha member Drupad Borgohain asked Minister of External Affairs about rising extremist activities in Northeast, then Minister of External Affairs – Mr. Jaswant Singh in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government was prepared in advance with his supplementaries on democracy question that, Why is India dealing with a Military Government which has suppressed democracy?, and answer to escape was, “Relations between India and Myanmar are civilizational in nature. They are rooted in a common cultural and religious heritage and geographical contiguity. Leaders of both countries have maintained a tradition of high level exchanges and personal rapport ever since independence. Myanmar is a friendly neighbour with which bilateral cooperation is growing steadily to mutual advantage.”[ix] Interestingly, When Senior General SPDC of Burma – Mr. Than Shwe had been visiting India from 25-29 October 2004, his scheduled programme included after ceremonial reception to visit Rajghat to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.[x] And tomorrow it is not far that all the dictators and human rights violaters would become suddenly disciple of Gandhi. If Mahatma Gandhi would have been alive, how he would have reacted to General Than Shwe’s visit to his place could be understood well? However, once again the old tape sang a song in a joint statement of Ministry of External Affairs going against the spirit and ethos officially spoken in the Parliament, “The Myanmar side reiterated its strong commitment to building a modern, democratic state suited to Myanmar’s needs and conditions,” and “The Indian side noted the resolve of the Myanmar leadership to build an enduring democratic system in Myanmar and expressed support for national reconciliation and early transition to democracy in Myanmar.”[xi]  

One difference, which exists between world’s two important democracies – India and United States of America in the contemporary phase, that, US Foreign Policy is rightly guided by Congress views taking inspiration from the values of their great leaders like –Jefferson, Lincoln, JF Kennedy. But in India, foreign affairs, has started guided by bureaucrats’ rather then on values of our great leaders and Indian Parliament. United States in its foreign policy has proved that they want to bring another Jefferson and Kennedy in their contemporary social political life. But India wants to produce General Than Shwe in contemporary India rather than Mahatma Gandhi. There are many important respected think tank in the United States like – David I. Steinberg ♣, Leon T. Hadar ♠, Michael Aung-Thwin ♦, who are advocating economic engagement with the military regime that sanctions rarely works. It is not that American’s are fool and they can’t enjoy economic leverage in Burma. If tomorrow they lift economic sanction, General Than Shwe would be the first person to dash Washington rather then going to Moscow, New Delhi and Beijing. Because those military leaders, who does not have any values and idealism are more interested in perpetuating power, rather than forging trustworthy alliances. So New Delhi, Moscow and Beijing should not think that by engaging and giving life to a military dictator, they have attained a great success in Burma. Trusting SPDC in Burma is like trusting China, which recently got reflected a few days back in China’s claim of Arunachal Pradesh. The future new order of Asia rests on cooperation between world’s two important democracies – India and United States of America. You can’t go with a nation for a long journey which conflicts with your system of governance. The partnership between United States of America and India are natural urge of same system of governance. The sizeable Indian community working in important US scientific institutions also creates natural environment of cooperation. It is high time that, India should come forward with United States on Burma’s democratic question and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and United Sates of America also start a new journey of coming forward to forge a new relationship with India to solve problems in Burma including Indo-US nuclear issues.  

 (The End)  

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 ENDNOTES:  

[i] Manipur militancy blame on Myanmar – Officer Points to flow of arms & drugs, The Telegraph, Kolkata, 1 June 2007.

[ii] Christopher Smith, Beyond the Chicken’s Neck: Indian National Security and Burma, Mizzima News, New Delhi, 18 June 2007.

 

[iii] Press Briefing by Foreign Secretary Mr. Shyam Saran on the Visit of President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam to Myanmar and Mauritius, 8-13 March 2006, Ministry of External Affairs, Press Release, Government of India, 7 March 2006.

[iv] Lok Sabha Questions and Answers, Lok Sabha, Unstarred Question No. 506 to be answered on 27-7-2005, New Delhi, India.

[v] Burma to remain a strategic partner for India, Narinjara  News, Bangladesh, 18 June 2007.

[vi] India launches public diplomacy office, The Times of India, New Delhi, 5th of May 2006.

[vii] Lok Sabha Questions and Answers, Lok Sabha, Unstarred Question No. 1547 to be answered on 27-11-2002, New Delhi, India.

[viii] Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention against international law: UN, ABC Radio Australia, 1 June 2007.

[ix] Rajya Sabha Questions and Answers, Rajya Sabha, Unstarred Question No. 167 to be answered on 30 November 2000, New Delhi, India.

[x] On the State Visit of H.E. Senior General Than Shwe of Myanmar, Ministry of External Affairs Press Briefings, Government of India, New Delhi, 25 October 2004.

[xi] Joint Statement issued on the occasion of the State Visit of H.E. Senior General Than Shwe, Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council of the Union of Myanmar to India (25-29 October 2004), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi, India, 29 October 2004.

♣ David I. Steinberg, A reputed scholar of Southeast Asian Studies, since long advocating US economic engagement with Burma, in his article on Yale Global Online entitled, “Burma: Feel-Good US Sanctions Wrongheaded,” 19 May 2004,  proposes that, in punishing the brutal junta, the US hurts Burmese people and its own strategic interests as well as in the interview with the Irrawaddy magazine, says, “Sanctions Rarely Work.”, Volume 11, No. 3, April 2003, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

♠ Leon T. Hadar, A reputed scholar of Cato Institute, Washington also produced a thesis entitled, “US Sanctions Against Burma – A Failure on All Fronts,” advocating US economic engagement with military regime in Burma, Trade Policy Analysis, No.1, March 26, 1998.

♦ Michael Aung-Thwin, A reputed Hawaii University Professor of South East Asian Studies, in a similar fashion of Steinberg and Leon T. Hadar, proposes in his article entitled, “Parochial Universalism, Democracy Jihad and the Orientalist Image of Burma: The New Evangelism, Pacific Affairs, Winter 2001-2002, Vol. 74, No. 4, Vancouver, Canada advocates economic engagement with the military regime.

  

(THE END)

  

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Indian Parliament and Burma’s Question of Democracy (Part-I)

June 16, 2007

 

Few days back on 13th of June 2007, the world  come to know about the clarion call made by the Indian Parliamentarian to immediately release the living icon of democracy – Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, suffering under prolonged detention in Burma. The call made by the Indian Parliamentarians Forum for Democracy in Burma was historic, as it tried to break the long silence of India’s foreign policy establishment towards Burma’s democratic questions and fulfilling the task of India’s role of world’s largest democratic nation in true spirit.

 

The call was specifically made, accepting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as a real Prime Minister of Burma, respecting the mandate of May 1990 election and paying tribute to the great Asian leader, who would attain♣ her 62nd birthday in prison on 19th of June 2007. Indian Parliamentarians concerned message that, “They (the military junta) may jail you but inside your heart, inside every Burmese heart, you are free”[I] truly reflects the echo of recently launched Prayer Campaign in Burma under the leadership of Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi and other 88 generation student leaders. Although the world community and people in Burma at large does not know that, Burma’s question of democracy is not new by Indian Parliamentarian, and the issue of democracy in Burma has been coming up off and on in Indian Parliamentary Sessions of both the houses – Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. However every questions raised by the honourable member of Indian Parliament is not used to covered by the Indian mass media. It becomes more difficult to cover and know about Burma’s democratic questions in Indian parliamentary debates, when it is unfortunately passing through a pariah status in Indian diplomatic circles, after the initiation of constructive engagement policy started by the former Indian Prime Minister – Mr. P.V. Narashimha Rao with Burma’s ruling military regime known as State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). 

 

The concern for the Burmese people and love towards Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been frequent since the year 2000, through questions by Indian Parliamentarians of both the houses (Lok Sabha or People’s house or Lower House and Rajya Sabha or Upper House), maintaining glorious tradition of Indian democracy and Gandhian values. Recently, in December 2006, an honourable member of Lok Sabha from Tenkasi constituency of Indian States of Tamil Nadu belonging to the Communist Party of India (CPI)- Mr. M. Appadurai, raised the question in Lok Sabha and asked the Indian Minister of External Affairs that, (a) Whether Myanmar has allegedly detained Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for the last so many years; (b) if so, whether this matter came up for discussion during the bilateral talks with Myanmar; (c) if so, the details thereof; and (d) the response of Myanmar thereto? The minister for External Affairs and senior congress leader, Shri Pranab Mukherjee replied on 6th of December 2006, (a) accepting the alleged detention of Daw Suu Kyi and further said (for B & C), that, “Government of India has consistently urged the Myanmar Government, including at the highest level, for the release of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest. We have also emphasized the need for the political reform process in Myanmar to more inclusive and broad based; (d) Government of Myanmar has noted our position in this regard.[II]

Even in Rajya Sabha, the question on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s well being was raised by most eminent and great living Gandhian of Contemporary India – Kumari Nirmala Deshpande popularly known as “Nirmala Didi” to young and old that, “(a) Whether it is a fact that U.N. Secretary General is taking keen interest in early release of the noble laureate Aung San Suu Kyi; (b) if so, the role of India, the immediate neighbour of Myanmar in helping her release; (c) if not, the reasons therefore? And the minister of state of External Affairs, Government of India, Shri E. Ahamed replied for first question in affirmative mood on the 10th of August 2006, (a) Yes Sir (rather then saying “Yes Madam”, I think probably it is difficult to answer questions in Indian Parliament, if it comes from personality like Nirmala Didi, who has dedicated her whole life for social service), (b) Government of India has consistently urged the Myanmar Government, including at the highest level, for the release of the Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, We have also emphasized the need for the political reform process in Myanmar to be more inclusive and broad based; (c) Does not arise.[III]

Again in May 2006, an honourable member of Lok Sabha, from Amalapuram constituency of Indian States of Andhra Pradesh, belonging to the present ruling Indian National Congress Party – Mr. G.V. Harsha Kumar asked the Minister of External Affairs that, “(a) Whether the Union Government has sent a team to Yangon to assess the situation and discuss the emerging crisis with military rulers; (b) if so, the details of the talks held; and (c) the outcome thereof? The Minister of State for External affairs – Mr. E. Ahamed replied in negative – “(a) No, Sir.” (b & c) Does not arise.[IV] One honorable member from the Maharajganj constituency of Lok Sabha, from the Indian States of Uttar Pradesh, belonging to Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) – Mr. Pankaj Choudhary asked the question from the Indian Prime Minister showing his concern towards democracy that, “whether Britain has allegedly placed certain restrictions regarding supply of aircraft to Myanmar by India on democratic question,” and the minister of state External Affairs – Mr. E. Ahamed replied on behalf of the Indian Prime Minister in negative – “No Sir,” and it does not arise.[V]

However, unfortunately the promises and official reply given to the honourable members of Indian Parliament, by the Senior Congress leader and External Affairs Minister – Mr. Pranav Mukherjee and Mr. E. Ahamed to Mr. M. Appadurai and famous Gandhian “Nirmala Didi”, that,  “Government of India has consistently urged the Burma Government, including at the highest level, for the release of the Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, We have also emphasized the need for the political reform process in Burma to be more inclusive and broad based,” was soon lost and betrayed in January 2007. The External Affairs Minister – Mr. Pranab Mukherjee’s statement, while visiting Rangoon from 19th to 21st January 2007, that, “India is not interested in exporting our own ideology. We are democracy and we would like democracy to flourish everywhere. But this is for every country to decide for itself,” is a great betrayal to the Indian Parliament and ultimately to the people of India.[VI] The official reply given in the Parliament is clear that, India wants and emphasized the need for the political reform process in Burma, specifically mentioning in terms of “BROAD BASED”, meaning inclusion of all groups in the “National Convention” as well as the commitment of working seriously towards the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. How far it would be going with the values of Gandhi and Nehru that, we say words of Mahatma Gandhi in Indian Parliament and do acts of double speaking in practice?

(Continued…)

  

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ENDNOTES: 

♣ I have intentionally avoided the term “celebrate”, which is generally coming up in different mass media, because it would be a Himalayan mistake in my view to even think for a moment about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi celebrating her birthday in detention without her beloved people and family members.

[I] Mungpi, Indian MPs greet Suu Kyi on her birthday, Mizzima News, New Delhi, India

[II] Lok Sabha Questions and Answers, Lok Sabha, Unstarred Question No. 2603 to be answered on 06 of December 2006, New Delhi, India.

[III] Rajya Sabha Questions and Answers, Rajya Sabha, Unstarred Question No. 1683, Answered on 10th of August 2006, New Delhi, India.

[IV] Lok Sabha Questions and Answers, Lok Sabha, Unstarred Question No. 2808, Answered on 10 May 2006, New Delhi, India.

[V]  Lok Sabha Questions and Answer, Lok Sabha, Unstarred Question No. 1875, Answered on 8 March 2006, New Delhi, India.

[VI] Siddharth Varadarajan, India not interested in exporting ideology: Pranab, The Hindu, New Delhi, 20 January 2007.

  (Continued…)  

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