I feel myself partly a citizen of India, says Suu Kyi
"I feel myself partly a citizen of India," Myanmar's iconic pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Friday during an emotional visit to Lady Shri Ram College, where she studied as an undergraduate in the 1960s.
Suu Kyi, moved by the warm welcome she received by her alma mater, said she never felt far removed from India.
"Coming back to LSR is not just coming back home, it is coming back to a place where I know my aspirations have not been wrong. I have learnt that my faith in the oneness of human aspirations is justified. I'm coming to a place where I can feel that my hopes have not been in vain," she said, addressing dignitaries, students, faculty and media
at the Ramakrishna Dalmia auditorium of the college.
"I always knew I would come back to this hall where I had learned to sing one of Gandhi's favourite songs - 'Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram'. I feel myself partly a citizen of India," she said.
Illustrious ex-students were in attendance at the ceremony. A dance recital by bharatnatyam exponent Geetha Chandran and a puppet show by noted puppeteer Anurupa Roy were also part of the programme.
Suu Kyi returned the outpouring of love by planting a sapling in the sprawling
lawns of the college to keep the memory of her visit alive.
Chandran's performance, "In Cupped Hands", in the Indian classical dance tradition was based on a verse that the pro-democracy leader had written for a speech few years ago.
It took off from an excerpt: "Emerald cool we may be/As water in cupped hands/But oh that we might be/As splinters of glass/In cupped hands".
Puppeteer Anurupa Roy, an alumnus of LSR, staged a puppet theatre based on a short story, "Bird in the Wood" that Suu Kyi had written as a student in the college.
It compares the plight of dead bird and a wounded soldier hounded by Japanese troops seen through the eyes of a little boy, also the protagonist of the story.
The college wore a festive look, decked up in buntings of Myanmarese Buddhist motifs, Oriental art works and an exhibition panel with photographs and excerpts from Suu Kyi's speech on receiving the Nobel Prize.
The Nobel laureate, who spent her childhood and early adolescence in New Delhi while her mother served as Burma's envoy to India, returned here on a six-day visit, during which she has met India's leaders as well as friends from her school and college days.
The charismatic leader, who spent decades under house arrest and is known for her heroic struggle against the all-powerful military junta in Myanmar, spoke about principles in politics.
"Principles must always exist in politics. Unprincipled politics is the most dangerous thing in the world. If you compromise on your principles, I think you'd better stop engaging in politics," she said.
For the students of the college, her visit was an inspiration.
"She is coming home after so many years. It is a dream come true for us. She referred to us as 'her girls'. The connection was immediate. I liked the bit in her speech about principled politics... Politics is in our everyday life," Jumi Gogoi, president of the LSR Students' Union, told IANS.
"Governments may change, but people remain the same...," echoed Abhismrita B., cultural secretary of the LSR Students' Union.
She is also set to visit Bangalore and two villages in Andhra Pradesh to study women's empowerment and development models.
Suu Kyi's six-day visit to India ends Sunday.