News / Asia

Burmese Pro Democracy Icon to Visit India

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, center, arrives at Rangoon International airport before departing for India in Rangoon, Burma Nov. 12, 2012.
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, center, arrives at Rangoon International airport before departing for India in Rangoon, Burma Nov. 12, 2012.
Anjana Pasricha
Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives Tuesday in India - a country that disappointed Burmese pro-democracy activists by building close ties with Burma's military rulers in recent years. The visit will help India counter criticism that it had abandoned its commitment to the return of democracy in Burma.   
 
Aung San Suu Kyi is no stranger to India. She attended college in New Delhi while her mother served as ambassador to India about 50 years ago. She has described Indian independence leaders Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru as great influences on her.

New Delhi joined the world in calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi during the initial years of her detention by the Burmese military rulers. But it made a dramatic turnaround in its policy toward its neighbor in the mid 1990s, and began engaging Burma’s military rulers.  

Photo Gallery: Aung San Suu Kyi

  • Burmese citizens residing in South Korea greet Aung San Suu Kyi upon her arrival at a hotel in central Seoul, January 28, 2013.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama waves to the media as he embraces Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi after they spoke to the media at her residence in Rangoon, November 19, 2012.
  • Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, center, waters a sapling after planting it in Govindapuram village, north of Bangalore, India, November 17, 2012.
  • Burmese opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi pays floral tribute on the birth anniversary of India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, at his memorial in New Delhi, India, November 14, 2012.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, September 19, 2012.
  • Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi holds her Congressional Gold Medal after it was presented to her by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (2nd L), at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 19, 2012.
  • Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, meets with Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at the State Department, Washington, September 18, 2012.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi, center, arrives for the Peace Nobel Prize lecture at the city hall in Oslo, June 16, 2012 to thank the Nobel committee for the prize she won in 1991.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi addresses about 4,000 people gathered outside her house in Rangoon, Burma, June 1, 1996.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi is surrounded by security guards and newsmen as she walks out of her lakeside house in Rangoon, Burma, Juy 14, 1995.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi addresses crowd of supporters in Rangoon, Burma, July 7, 1989.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi addresses crowd of supporters in Rangoon, Burma, July 7, 1989.
  • Swiss Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga, left Swiss President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, center, and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Bern, Switzerland, June 14, 2012.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi during an election campaign rally in Thongwa village some 50 kms from Rangoon, Burma, February 26, 2012
  • Aung San Suu Kyi is presented with flowers by cheering Karen refugees at Mae La refugee camp in Tha Song Yang district, Tak province, northern Thailand, June 2, 2012.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi, center, and elected lawmakers of her National League for Democracy party take an oath during a regular session of the Lower House at parliament in Naypyitaw, Burma, May 2, 2012.
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron and Aung San Suu Kyi share a light moment during their meeting in the compound of her lakeside home, April 13, 2012, Rangoon, Burma.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at the headquarters of her National League for Democracy party, April 2, 2012, Rangoon, Burma.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to journalists during the press conference in her residence in Rangoon, Burma, March 30, 2012.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi, right, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton react after speaking to the press at Suu Kyi's residence in Rangoon, Burma, December 2, 2011.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi and her youngest son Kim Aris pay respect to her father, the late Geneneral Aung San, at the Martyr's Mausoleum in Rangoon, Burma, July 12, 2011.

Human rights 

As India dropped its earlier condemnation of human rights violation in Burma, Burmese pro-democracy activists stopped seeing New Delhi as a force for democratic change in their country.

“In the past, pro-democracy activists were so disappointed. I really expect that India can do more, India should do more," says Alana Golmei, coordinator at the Burma Center, Delhi. "There are lots of questions…what will come out of this. Will India be sincere enough?”  

India’s courting of Burmese military leaders was influenced by its neighbor’s strategic importance. Burma is rich in resources such as oil and gas that India needs. New Delhi wanted to counterbalance China, which had reached out to the isolated regime and made deep inroads into the country. New Delhi also needed Burma’s help in controlling insurgent groups that operate along the common border in India’s northeast.  

But as Burma undergoes a political transformation, New Delhi wants to repair ties with the pro-democracy movement. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on a visit to Burma in May, met Aung San Suu Kyi and invited her to deliver the prestigious Jawaharlal Memorial Lecture in New Delhi this Wednesday.

Planned meetings

Her five-day visit to India will also include meetings with top Indian political leaders, and a brief meeting with Burmese activists in New Delhi.  

The Indian foreign ministry has called her visit an opportunity to build upon the positive momentum in bilateral relations. It says the visit is part of India’s policy of hosting high-level Burmese leaders.
 
Bharat Karnad at New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research says that India is likely to do a fine balancing act.   
 
“It is going to be very, very warm, very personal, extremely effusive, but the Indian government is not going to get into taking positions on Aung San Suu Kyi’s own political future or that of her party," notes Karnad. "I don’t think the Indian government will want to risk once again alienating the Burmese generals by going over the top as it were.”
 
Image makeover

However, Burmese pro-democracy activists hope that Aung San Suu Kyi's visit will not just be part of an image makeover by New Delhi. They want India to play a larger role in helping Burma along the long road to political change.
 
India has offered to assist Burma's democratization process, train its parliamentarians and build the capacity of institutions like the National Human Rights Commission. Burma has sent local journalists to India to see how a multi-ethnic, Asian democracy can function.
 
A former member of parliament of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League of Democracy, Tint Swe, has lived in New Delhi in exile for the last 20 years. He feels the visit provides a ray of hope.
 
“Why not Indian government approach to Burma change? We want the best things from India including business, including trade, including investment," Swe says. "Number one is the democracy ideas. India’s business in Burma should be more transparent, more responsible for Burma. We need good education from India.”
 
This is the message that Aung San Suu Kyi is also likely to give in India. Her visit will also be tinged with nostalgia. She will visit her former college in New Delhi - now one of the country's most prestigious. She will also travel to India's information technology hub, Bangalore, and rural areas of Andhra Pradesh to look at rural development and women's empowerment programs.

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs