From 1942 Quit India Movement to Quit Dictatorship Movement of 8888 in Burma (Part:I)

More than six decades ago on 8th of August 1942, India under the charismatic leadership of Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement with the slogan of “Do or Die” against British Colonialism and ultimately achieved success in freeing her from colonial rule in five years on 15th of August 1947. During the struggle of Gandhi’s Quit India Movement, Burma stood with India in its hour of pain, hardship under the leadership of Ba Maw, Bogyoke Aung San, U Nu and many other great leaders and also achieved freedom four months later on 4th of January 1948. Although, in this last struggle of independence Burmese leadership had been more close to Subhas Chandra Bose plan of action and his Indian National Army compared with Gandhi. But Subhas Bose and leadership in Burma never lost the opportunity of taking blessings from Gandhi in their common struggle of independence. At that time nobody would have imagined, that one day; after little more than one decade of parliamentary democratic experiment of U Nu, Burma would once again fall victim of military dictatorship in March 1962 and had to start her glorious war of freedom against army dictatorship on same historical day of Modern Asian History on 8th of August, four decades later in 1988, in a different historical settings with same spirit of “Do or Die” in their growing non-violent struggle under the leadership of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

However compared with 1942 Quit India Movement, the glorious 8th of August 1988 student revolution popularly known as four eight movement – 8888 movement had some important similarities and little but significant differences. The important similarities were that, both the revolution stood for freedom to express opinions with immense love for respective country and demand for participative transparent government controlled by people’s mandate. In addition, both the movement had popular support of all walks of life having immense support among youths and students touching every nook and corner of the country.   

One was against alien rule in 1942 but other was against military dictatorship in 1988 and against own army General’s turned out alien to people’s demand for participative rule of benevolent governance.   

The significant differences exists that Quit India Movement’s Colonial British Master, despite many police atrocities had been more benevolent in terms of rule of law in comparison with SPDC of Burma by allowing congress party leaders, workers and relatives to meet Gandhiji and allowed him to correspond with his co-workers and supporters at prison as well as the opportunity of free trial of Netaji’s (Subhas Chandra Bose) Indian National Army officers watched by media. After the 8th of August 1942 Quit India resolution by All India Congress Committee, Gandhi ji was arrested in the early morning of 9th of August 1942 and was taken to Aga Khan Palace, Poona and thereafter members of congress working committee were also arrested. But Gandhi was allowed to interview by the editor of newspaper – “The Bombay Chronicle”, Syed Abdullah Brelvi on 21st February 1943, who used to be also a member of the All India Congress Committee.[1] Gandhi also met his much celebrated disciple Mirabehn in the same month on 27th February 1943.[2] During his prison term from 9th of August 1942 to 6th of May 1944, Gandhi was allowed to write more than hundred letters to his party workers and lovers including British Viceroy and administrators’. Even one day after her arrest he was permitted to write a letter to the Governor of Bombay, Sir Roger Lumley on 10th of August 1942[3] and issued a message to the countrymen on 9th of August 1942 at 5 A.M., that, “Everyone is free to go the fullest length under ahimsa (non-violence). Complete deadlock by strikes and other non-violent means. Satyagrahis must go out to die not to live. They must seek and face death. It is only when individuals go out to die that the nation will survive – “Karenge Ya Marenge (We will do or die)[4] 

Whereas army dictators in Burma first known as State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) and later State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has crossed all the civic norms including the United Nations Convention on the rights of political prisoner by shunning Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders under prolonged detention without any accessibility to her own political party workers, sons, friends and world media. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is also not allowed to meet world media and write letters to his friends, party colleagues and family members.

And interestingly, United Nations Security Council two esteemed permanent partner China and Russia as well as ASEAN is making assessment that every thing is going fine in Burma and the ongoing National Convention started on 18th July 2007 is a welcome step as it unfolds for genuine democracy without the participation of NLD and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi?  In the case of Daw Suu Kyi, apart from her being a much loved personality in Burma and Nobel laureate and leader of the NLD party which won the May 1990 elections, UN has also failed to protect its own former staff suffering under military rule since last seventeen years.  

The other significant differences had been that, 1942 was a well planned political programme of actions proposed by earlier meetings held at Wardha on 14th of July 1942, before a final decision taken at Gowalia Tank in Bombay on 8th of August 1942 by a well established Indian National Congress party.[5] Whereas the 8888 revolution, had natural outburst of long simmering people’s discontent against army misrule. This found definite political actions with the entry of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Burmese politics, with her first public appearance at the Rangoon General Hospital on 24th of August 1988 and Shwedagon Pagoda Speech on 26th of August 1988.[6] And a month later it got organized with the establishment of The National League for Democracy Party (NLD) on 24th September 1988 by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi together with Aung Gyi and Tin U as a political challenge to the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), which had assumed power on behalf of the military establishment six days before to crush the people’s revolution.

Although despite NLD’s one month late formation after the 8th of August 1988 revolution and Congress being an old political party established in December 1885, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD soon gained immense popularity among Burmese people and won the May 1990 elections with absolute majority. It also negated the theories that, Burmese people lack democratic values and more inclined to totalitarian regime and proving importance of 8888 revolution in Modern history of Burma. 




[1] The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volume – LXXVII, The Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, New Delhi, October 1979, p.65.


[2] Ibid, p.69.

[3]The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volume – LXXVI, The Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, New Delhi, July 1979, p.404.

[4] Ibid, p.403.

[5] Bipan Chandra, Gen. Editor, India’s Struggle For Independence (1857-1947), Penguin Books, New Delhi, 1989, p.459.


[6] Aung San Suu Kyi, Freedom From Fear and other writings, Penguin Books, New Delhi, 1995. p.333.

♠ Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s first intervention for democratic change in Burma begins with her open letter to the military government on 15th of August 1988, proposing that a consultative committee be formed, composed of respected independent persons, who would steer the country towards multi-party elections. Following Gandhian principle, She stresses the need for restraint from violence on the part of the government and demonstrators, and the release of persons arrested, which also gained support of U Nu, the last elected Prime Minister, and other pre-1962 political leaders.



Explore posts in the same categories: ASEAN, Asian History & Politics, Blogroll, Burma, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Democracy, European Union, History, Human Rights, India, Mahatma Gandhi, Modern Asian History, Myanmar, News, Politics, South Asian Politics, Southeast Asia, Thoughts, UN, USA

One Comment on “From 1942 Quit India Movement to Quit Dictatorship Movement of 8888 in Burma (Part:I)”

  1. […] Burma Review blog compares the events from 8888 to the Quit India Movement launched by Gandhi in 1942 to end the British rule. The […]

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