'Follow principled politics'

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi visited her alma mater Lady Shri Ram College on Friday and advised students to follow “principled politics”.

Kyi, a student of the 1964 batch, returned to her college almost after two and a half decades.

“Politics is not an easy job. I don’t know what I should call it – a job or a profession. Choices cannot be made by sheer idealism but principles should always be there. If you cannot keep to principled politics then get out of politics,” she said, addressing a packed auditorium.

Politics will not be easy, she said. “There will be dangers. You will be open to criticism and attacks. My political dream is that my opponents who are not friendly right now should become friends,” Kyi said.

Suu Kyi entered politics in 1988, when the military leader of Burma, head of the ruling party, stepped down. Mass demonstrations for democracy followed. Kyi addressed a huge crowd calling for democratic government. She founded National League for Democracy in September that year and was put under house arrest in 1989. On November 13, 2010, she was released.

Meenakshi Gopinath, principal of the college called the visit as a celebration. “We are celebrating our Diwali today. Kyi has made a painful choice between her family and country and we have supported her. She gives voice and hope to the oppressed,” said Gopinath.

Suu Kyi remembered the time when she was under house arrest and her attachment with India.

“In all those years I felt I was closely linked to you all despite the distance. I am partly a citizen of India,” she said adding that she heard the song “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram” and remembered India.

The leader further said that she had heard that Indians were taking their democratic rights for granted. “Democratic rights are very precious. It is only when you don’t have them you realise. Many things you take for granted here we are fighting for them in Burma,” she added citing an example of “no campus life in her country” and wishing to revive it.

“There is no life beyond classes in my country. I want to revive it, so that the youth have probing minds, to question, discuss, debate, go out and challenge ideas. They do not want just certificates,” the Myanmar pro-democracy leader said.

The teachers remembered Kyi as a quiet and inquisitive child interested in international affairs. Kyi did her graduation in political science and was a part of writing and debate societies.

“She is remembered here for spoofs on the Shakespeare play Othello. In this auditorium she scripted and performed plays. She wrote poetry and one of the poems which was published in the annual magazine of the college was ‘Like a bird in the woods’,” recalled one of her teachers.

The students were also excited to meet Kyi. A long queue was formed for autographs.
“It is an honour to meet a person who is a role model to so many people. She is the true example of a courageous, incorruptible leader,” said Ritika Sharma, a history student.
Minister of state for human resource development Shashi Tharoor was also present.

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