Aung San Suu Kyi's Shimla connection
Nobel laureate and pro-democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has a strong connection with Shimla city. She stayed in Shimla as a research fellow in the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS) for about two years and had submitted her research manuscript that was later published as a book, ‘Burma and India: Some aspects of Intellectual Life under Colonialism’ by the Institute.
The second edition of the book was released on November 14 at Vigyan Bhavan in the presence of Vice President Hamid Ansari, Dr Karan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Suu Kyi had stayed at the Indian Institute of Advance Study for two years with her husband Michael Aris and sons Alexander and Kim in 1987.
Director of the IIAS Prof. Peter Ronald deSouza, who had joined the Institute in 2007, rediscovered her forgotten work that was one of the important outputs of the Institute and planned to bring out the second edition of the book with fresh and updated inputs from the author.
“Since Suu Kyi has emerged as one of the greatest crusaders and icons of non-violence and peace, it was important that the new generation should get a chance to know her philosophical and moral frame”, said deSouza who also attended her lecture on Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial in Vigyan Bhavan.
It was through the efforts of the Ambassador of India to Burma that Suu Kyi could be sent the re-typed and proof-read version of her book to make the necessary changes to the first edition. She agreed to update the edition and also chose the cover-page design, informed Ashok Sharma, the Institute’s Public Relations Officer. IIAS was able to bring out the book in a short time so that her visit to India to deliver the prestigious Nehru lecture could be used as an opportunity to release its second edition.
The leader of National League for Democracy has requested that copies of the book be sent to public libraries and universities across India. The book describes the varying responses of India and Burma during British colonialism, responses which reflect the changing social structure and character of the two societies. It also discusses the Buddhist influence from India on Burma and the inability of Burmese society to resist the colonial onslaught in contrast to India which developed a more substantial response. It is an interesting comparative study of intellectual life under colonialism in the two countries.
The book, a paperback edition is priced Rs.195. A number of Indian and foreign tourists visiting the Institute these days can be seen buying it from the shop outside the IIAS. It can also be ordered online from the Institute’s website.