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Suu Kyi:Disappointments with India vs hopes from its people

Posted on Nov 14, 09:39PM | UNI

On a historic visit to India after four decades, Myanmar's living legend pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi today gripped the audience's attention with a narrative of her political struggle in which the personal and the public frequently merged, perhaps because her persona could not be separated from the cause she dedicated her life to.

That is why she pinned hopes on people-to-people contact in the future of her country's relations with India.

"India has been drawn away from us in our more difficult days, so friendship between peoples was more important," said the Myanmar opposition leader in obvious reference to this country's engagement with the military rulers of her nation during the days when she and her party National League for Democracy were carrying on a struggle against the regime.

Governments might come and go, and that was what democracy was about, but friendhip between the peoples was more important, said Ms Suu Kyi after finishing her formal address at the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture here this evening.

These remarks came after she said that ahead of her visit to India, she had been asked one question very frequently as to what was her expectations from India and disappointments with it.

"Expectations and disappointments are not something we can indulge in," she said.

Ms Suu Kyi has come on an invitation of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who while welcoming her at the Lecture described her as "most remarkable figure of our times" and spoke about her family's long association with Pt Nehru and also of his imprint on her life and thought.

Ms Suu Kyi had been awarded the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding way back in 1995, but could not come to receive it because of her house arrest.

"I have not yet achieved the goal of democracy. I hope the people of India will stand by us," said Ms Suu Kyi, who was released from house arrest about two years ago to take part in the election process, a step towards democratisation by the military regime, which is also now opening up to the world both politically and economically after decades of isolation.

During her speech, Ms Suu Kyi, who has lived and studied in India when her mother was ambassador of her country here, nostalgically recalled annecdotes relating to the association of her mother and father, himself an iconic figure of 'Burma', with Pt Nehru.

She dwelt at length on the shared vision of Asia of her father, Aung San, founder of modern Burma and Pt Nehru, and also on the latter's works like Discovery of India which had left an imprint on her thought and life.

Ms Suu Kyi quoted frequently from the Discovery of India in a bid to bring out the Nehru as she perceived him.

She also spoke about Gandhiji's philosophy of non-violence influencing the democratic struggle in 'Burma' as she called her country.