Advice to girls at Lady Shri Ram College, her alma mater

“There is nothing more dangerous than unprincipled politics; politics is tough… stick to your principles against all odds. If you cannot, then get out when you are still unblemished,” said Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday. She was addressing “her girls” at Lady Shri Ram College here, her alma mater — the place where she learnt “to speak and sing.”

Ms. Suu Kyi said the world was growing old, embittered and resentful, and it needed the warmth of young people. “Nothing ages more than hatred,” she noted, telling the youngsters never to be hostage to the past. Her visit showed her that Indians had an emotional bond with her.

It had been decades since she left India. There were many years when there was little or no contact with this country. But “I always knew I had to come here, this place where I sang Raghupati Raghava in the morning assembly. Later on, whenever I heard this song being sung, I would understand what it meant to Indians… I feel myself partly a citizen of India — a citizen of love and honour.”

The Nobel laureate said Myanmar had not achieved complete democracy and it needed India’s support. “Many things that you take for granted, we are still struggling for in Burma. Many people there do not know about ‘campus life.’ There is no life for them outside classrooms. We want to revive campus life, equip our young with the courage to go out into the world and meet the challenges of life” she said. “We do not want to take all the time. One day, we will be in a position to give and we will with warmth and generosity.”

She was especially touched by the special song that the school choir sang in her honour. “They sang the song that my people have composed in my name; I looked at them while they were singing and felt that there was no difference between the young people here and in my country. All the hopes and aspirations of young people are the same everywhere. I looked at their faces and realised that I have seen the same faces everywhere… young faces of openness and generosity.”

The girls were also told to make “the best of their strengths and keep their weaknesses under control.” There was no such thing as an unrealistic or impossible dream if one worked hard enough. “Work hard for your hopes and if you cannot, then believe in something else that you are prepared to work for,” Ms. Suu Kyi told the packed audience.

Another song that the school choir sang was Rabindranath Tagore’s Ekla Cholo Re which Ms. Suu Kyi was familiar with. “Sometimes you do have to walk alone, but I have realised that there are also people all over the world, friends whom you don’t know about, who will walk along… we have received help from all over the world, from places where I thought people were not interested in what was happening in my country.” She had always felt that she was never really far from India. She knew she had friends here. And the past week had shown her that her belief in that friendship was justified, she said.

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