Democracy – Lessons from Myanmar

Lessons for Myanmar

I have read things like ‘the least likely place where you would be robbed in South East Asia is Myanmar’ and ‘considering all the bad news that trickles out of Myanmar it may sound like a rather unsafe country to visit. For vast majority of visitors, the reality is quite the opposite’ (lonely Planet).  After 16 trips to the country I can vouch for these without any reservations.

Myanmar may not follow the trail blazing path of its eastern or northern neighbours in terms of economic growth. It is still finding its balance in forms of administration, legal matters and investment laws which still need a lot of updation to be contemporary, and still seem inward looking in many matters. But it has great people, discipline, plenty of water and rainfall, and plenty of natural resources. With lots of beautiful places all over, a long coastline and plenty of beach spaces, country side resorts, contemporary hotels in all major cities and towns, monuments which are very well maintained and people who are people (foreigner or locals) friendly,  it has all it requires to become Asia’s leading tourist hub.

If Istanbul and Muscat provided the first bombardment on my assumptions about the World, Vietnam taught me first lessons on how experience, impartial inquiry aided perhaps by a visit to the site being essential to come to a reliable judgement,  Myanmar set me thinking on the relative merits of democracy, the relation between happiness and income, poverty and hunger, etc.

With its per capita income of $ 550 it seems to have solved problems of hunger. There is no begging I saw anywhere.  I am yet to see any instance of open defecation, verbal filth or fisticuff.  People wear good cloths neat and clean (even in interior the shirts and cloths that girls and ladies wear seem as white as we see in our business centres and banks). Most places are kept clean and neat, some decorated and inviting.

Democracy or not there is public order and there is very little friction between people in day-to-day dealings. There may be no rules on these but people make up with lots of understanding of each other’s comfort, sensitivities and conveniences.  They do not wear their politics on their shirt sleeves. If anyone thought that political suppression would generate passionate arguments, they will be surprised. It does not seem to matter to them much.

In conclusion, all of them seem to be too busy with the business of being happy; no one has the time to make money.

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