Barack Obama questioned India’s silence over the cruel dictatorship in its neighbouring country, Burma [Myanmar]. Whether the president of a country that has supported dictatorships whenever it was convenient to it has a right to question India’s silence about Burma is a valid question. But Obama did raise a more valid question.
Ever since the military junta took over the government in Burma in Sep 1988 [and later changed the country’s name to Myanmar] the ordinary Burmese people have been the victims. The junta conducted an election in 1990 in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, The National League of Democracy, won 392 of 485 seats. But not only were the results dishonoured, Suu Kyi was also placed under house arrest.
What followed was an absolutely corrupt form of government which opened up the economy to private entrepreneurs and other capitalists. This process culminated in giving ascendancy to the Burmese Chinese. It also brought more Chinese into the country. After a decade of the privatisation process, much of the Burmese economy remains under the control of the Chinese. The plight of the ordinary Burmese people is pathetic, to say the least.
A couple of days before President Obama questioned India’s silence over Burma, the Outlook [dated Nov 15, 2010] brought to its readers an article by Nobel Laureate, Amartya Sen. Sen accused India of holding policies regarding Burma which “are valuationally crude and gross” and appealed to the country to arouse public interest in this issue.
Let us hope that India will wake up to the call by Obama and Amartya Sen. Let us also hope that President Obama’s own country will wake up to more such injustices in the world and do something more meaningful than utter eloquent rhetoric.