By: Bishwajit Okram, LL.M, ACCA
Mind-boggling and unthinkable things are happening in our neighbouring country Burma which has been under military rule since 1962 till date.
The current civilian government backed by the military has hinted to one of the visiting western diplomats about the government’s plan to release political prisoners, lifting bans on many restricted websites, ending all forms of censorship and allowing lively debates in parliament.
It may sound strange for many of us who have been brought up with this estranged neighbour. We still see so many Burmese refugees loitering around in different places of Manipur.
In one of the articles in the Financial Times, London, the editor quoted the western diplomat saying that Aung San Suu Kyi thought Thein Sein, the newly ‘elected’ president, was sincere in his push for a political opening.
All this brings a glimmer of hopes to the 58.8 million people, the 24th most populated country in the world.
The audacity of the Burmese government to scrap a huge $3.6bn dam being developed with China received hearty applause from the Burmese masses who have been demanding the same on an environmental and human rights basis. Such consideration of people is something that has never happened in the past.
It may be noted that Burma, being the 46th largest countries in the world, is one of the most natural resourceful countries, having an uninterrupted coastline of about 1930 km, in the world.
In contrast to their rich natural resources, ironically, the country is economically one of the least developed countries in the world. Its economic growth of 2.9% is the lowest among all South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The health and human rights standards are considered to be one of the worst in the world.
For a very long time, I have been thinking, once our neighbour stands up on its own feet, we in Manipur too will have our own glimmer of hope, as I believe our future lies with the development of our ASEAN neighbour.
For now, let us wish Burma a lasting democracy and a lasting peace, as this has to be the roots of a country’s prosperity.