India was aloof in our hard days: Suu Kyi
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In impromptu remarks at the end of her speech at the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture here, Suu Kyi said: "Since yesterday, I have heard two words, 'expectations' and 'disappointment', and I have thought about them very carefully." Expectations and disappointment, she said, are not something they should "indulge in". "I was saddened to see that we had drawn away from India, or India had drawn away from us during our very difficult days."
As Myanmar proceeds on the path to democracy, Suu Kyi added, she hoped that the people of India would "stand by them" and "walk" with them.
However, the Myanmar National League for Democracy leader clarified, she always had "faith in the lasting friendship between our two countries, faith in the lasting friendship between our two people".
Stressing that "friendship between two countries should be friendship between people, and not friendship between the two governments", Suu Kyi said that "governments come and go, and that's what democracy is all about", to a thunderous round of applause.
As long as there is "understanding" and "mutual respect", friendship between the two countries will last, she said, addressing the audience comprising top Cabinet ministers, government officials and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, with Vice-President Hamid Ansari on the dais.
Emphasising that Myanmar had not yet achieved the goal of democracy, she said: "We hope that through this difficult last stage, the people of India will stand by us and walk with us as we proceed along the path which they had taken many years before."
Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister met Suu Kyi at his Race Course Road residence for half-an-hour of talks, following which they met without aides.
The two talked about a range of issues, including the "national reconciliation process" and the "process of democratisation" underway in Myanmar. Singh also welcomed the progress made by Suu Kyi and Myanmar's President Thein Sein.
They agreed that "people-to-people relations were important" and discussed "greater cooperation" between the parliaments and judiciaries of the two countries.
Dressed in a yellow dress, with her trademark yellow flowers tucked in her hair, Suu Kyi also recalled her memories of Jawaharlal Nehru during her 30-minute lecture. "To my infant mind, he was the kindly old man who had provided my father with two sets of uniform, the smartest he ever possessed," said the 67-year-old Nobel Laureate, about one such instance.
In January 1947, when Suu Kyi was two, her father General Aung San, widely considered to be the independence hero of Burma (as Myanmar was known then), had stopped over in Delhi for two days on his way to London for the Aung San-Attlee talks.
"He had left Burma in the thin cotton uniform of the People's Volunteer Organisation. Panditjit took one look at the flimsy khaki outfit and decided it would not do for the icy weather of London. He gave instructions that two sets of a warm and smart version of the PVO uniform be made immediately," Suu Kyi recalled.
The month in which her father was travelling to London was one of the coldest winters in the history of England, she said. "He (Nehru) decided that my father would also need a heavy overcoat, but since there was not enough time to have one made to measure, a British Army issue greatcoat was procured. The most widely known photograph of my father shows him wearing this garment in the garden of 10 Downing Street (the British Premier's office)," she said.
Suu Kyi also said that Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru were the two Indian leaders to whom she felt "closest" and remembered the former PM as a "father figure". She also recalled that Nehru had looked after her mother after Aung San was assassinated — once going to the Delhi railway station to meet her.
The Myanmar leader also talked of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and his Indian National Army, as well as his brother Sarat Chandra Bose who had contributed to Burma's struggle for independence.
Pointing out that Mahatma Gandhi had once said that Motilal Nehru's love for the country came from the love for his son Jawaharlal, she said: "This led me to think if my love for my country comes from my love for my father."
Talking of Nehru's Discovery of India, Suu Kyi said she had copied powerful writings on "law and order" from the book and pasted them at the entrance to her home during her house arrest. Concluding her speech, she said that the "discovery of Nehru" was a "discovery of myself".
Sonia Gandhi in her address described Suu Kyi's five-day visit as "something of a homecoming" and told the democracy leader that she was the "worthy inheritor" of a "noble father's legacy".
"As in the case of Mahatma Gandhi, her life is her message," Sonia said. "You have been the keeper of Mahatma Gandhi's flame in your own country... To stand alone against power, whatever the cost, even to the point of defying the pointed rifle, requires extraordinary inner strength and resolve. To do so, not in order to acquire power or high office, but to empower a whole people, is even more heroic."
Suu Kyi, who arrived on Tuesday, also met Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai. They discussed Myanmar's domestic issues, though it was not clear whether the Rohingyas dispute came up.
Suu Kyi also paid tribute at the samadhis of Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru.
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