Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the State Counsellor of the Republic of Myanmar, called on President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday (October 18, 2016) as part of her first state visit to India after becoming the country’s leader.
Suu Kyi is not new to New Delhi as she studied at LSR College in Delhi before going to London for her higher studies. Welcoming Aung San Suu Kyi on her first State Visit to India, the President said that India and Myanmar are close neighbours and have a good long standing relationship with each other. During the visit of the President of Myanmar in August this year, fruitful discussions were held and four important agreements were signed between the two countries.
The President congratulated Suu Kyi on her landmark victory in the General Elections held in November, 2015. The President said that India appreciates the spirit with which the people of Myanmar have responded in the General Elections and the manner in which the whole process of elections has been steered. He said that he was happy that the process of democratization was being strengthened in Myanmar.
India will extend all help to Myanmar in this phase of transition in order to set up democratic institutions for ensuring stability in the country. He wished Myanmar all success in establishing a strong democracy. He stated that Myanmar’s transition to full democracy will take time to achieve and India stands by Myanmar in this process.
The President said that India will soon commence work on restoring two old temples and inscriptions of King Mindon and Bay Gyi Daw in Bodh Gaya as requested by the Government of Myanmar. He said that this task will be undertaken by the Archeological Survey of India with financial support from Government of India.
HE Daw Aung San Suu Kyi reciprocated the President’s sentiments and said that India and Myanmar have much in common. She stated that change does not happen easily and Myanmar has to go about the process of transition in a cautious manner. Myanmar seeks the cooperation and support of India as its people look forward to progress and change for the betterment of their lives.
Historically, India and Burma enjoyed strong relations. During Myanmar’s independence movement many Burmese politicians had great associations with India. Gen Aung San, Burma’s independence hero, and Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, was closely connected to India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his family. Gen Ne Win, Burma’s strong-man dictator, had close relations with the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her family.
Burma was a province of India when the British colonized the country in the 19th Century. Burma’s last monarch King Thibaw spent his final days as a prisoner of the British colonialists in India’s Ratnagiri, a port city on the Arabian Sea.
Burma and India shared a common dream to be liberated from colonialism. During the colonial period, many wealthy Burmese parents sent their children to India to study.
Suu Kyi landed in Goa first to attend the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (or Bimstec) summit. New Delhi is hoping to strengthen warm relations with Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi.
Her mother Daw Khin Kyi served as ambassador to India in 1960, she became the first woman to serve as a head of the Burma mission abroad. A young Daw Aung San Suu Kyi went along. India’s then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who knew Aung San, made a special arrangement for the Aung San family to live on New Delhi’s 24 Akbar Road.
Burma shares a 1,600 km land boundary with India’s northeastern states and India is anxious about a separatist movement on the India-Burma border. Ethnic rebels such as the Assamese, the Manipuri and the Naga have been known to take refuge in Burma and launch raids back across the border.
New Delhi is keen to limit China’s influence over Burma, and hopes to engage on the economic front—particularly the energy sector. India is said to be very interested in importing gas and oil from Burma.