Daya Varma


The military junta in Myanmar (Burma) has resorted to what it is good at – killing and imprisoning its citizens who are demanding democracy, no more. The fate of Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for almost 18 years is not known. Monasteries have been locked, access to the internet has been curbed and cell phones are nonfunctional, and several newspapers have stopped publication.


Almost every country has expressed their displeasure at the turn of events. Even the US has taken some steps: canceling visas for the junta leaders and their family members and freezing their assets. Only China feels that killing citizens is an internal matter of the country and so continues its support for the Junta.


Myanmar, formerly Burma, is India’s eastern neighbor. British colonialists ruled Burma and India as one country until 1937. In Myanmar lies the grave of India’s last Moghul emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, and a large number of Burmese citizens are of Indian origin. Thus the developments in Myanmar should be of as much concern to India as developments in Nepal or Pakistan. Both the government and the left democratic parties are expected to raise a strong voice and even take some concrete actions. If they are doing it, the voices do not seem loud enough to be generally heard.


Burma is endowed with tremendous natural resources. And yet under the brutal political and economic policies of the Junta, for nearly 50 years, Myanmar places 130 out of 177 countries on the UN human development scale with a gross domestic product lower than that of Sudan and Chad. Democratization of the country would be the first step towards economic recovery.

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