Defence

Democracy in Myanmar and India’s dilemma

By New Indian Express

A matter of great concern for India since Independence has been the future of Burma, a country with which it shares land and maritime boundaries. Three years before Independence, India’s ambassador-historian Sardar K M Panikkar had underlined the strategic significance of Burma in the following words: “The defence of Burma is, in fact, the defence of India and it is India’s primary concern, no less than Burma’s, to see that its frontiers remain inviolate. In fact, no responsibility should be considered too heavy for India when it comes to the question of defending Burma.”

In the early years of Independence, Jawaharlal Nehru played a significant role in bolstering Burma politically and militarily. In fact, like Indonesia, Burma and its leadership were very close to New Delhi. Professor Werner Levi, the distinguished political scientist, even remarked that Burma was India’s satellite.

Two snapshots would reveal how close Nehru was to the leaders of Burma. January 1948. It was an extremely cold winter. General Aung San came to New Delhi on his way to London to finalise the terms of the transfer of power.

Seeing him clad in cotton suits, Nehru told Aung San that London would be extremely cold and he should have woollen suits. He took his woollen overcoat from the wardrobe and put it around Aung San. He also arranged two woollen suits to be made and gave them to him.

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