Daily News header

Pro-Democracy Burmese Must Not Forget George Fernandes

By

It was a grand Burma Convention held in New Delhi six years back and the prime mover of the event was a dynamic Indian political leader with socialist background, George Fernandes. The convention received wide coverage in the media and made a significant impact on the Indian civil society groups and its outlook towards the pro-democracy movement of Burma under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi.

I met the great trade unionist-turned-politician George Fernandes for the first time in the convention. I remember the former Indian Defense minister signed each and every invitation card to the convention. And during the meeting, almost all speakers, including a number of parliamentarians from our neighbouring countries addressed him as 'Uncle George.'

Seasoned politicians, representatives of civil society groups, eminent editor-journalists of India and a large number of Burmese exiles from around the word attended the convention. The former Indian President, R. Venkatraman, also addressed the gathering. Amazingly, every one paid their heartiest respect to Uncle George and expressed their solidarity to his relentless mission for restoring democracy in Burma.

But recently I got a shock when I had the opportunity to see George Fernandes. Stricken with Alzheimer's disease, expressionless and much enfeebled, the eighty year old former politician is but a shadow of his well-known firebrand self. Once a powerful trade unionist and political leader, tremendously popular among the working class, even the soldiers, George Fernandes has been dragged into an unwanted controversy for his custody. His wife, who was otherwise not with him for a decade suddenly emerged as his sole caretaker and started preventing his brothers and long time politician friend Jaya Jaitely to meet the leader.

"George Fernandes was born on June 3, 1930 at Mangalore in Karnataka. After completing his early education in Mangalore, he came to a seminary near Bangalore. Of course, George did not prefer the preaching - and even rebelled against the authorities. Then he moved to Bombay (Mumbai) and finally emerged as a winning candidate (Samyukta Socialist party) in the 1967 election. Later he come out as the Union minister for Industries, Railways and Defence time to time," a leaflet stated.

Another important feature of his personality was his commitment to democratic movement in our neighbouring Burma. A New Delhi-based Burmese exile declared, "George Fernandes was an absolute supporter of the pro-democracy movement of Burma and his official residence gave shelter to many Burmese democracy activists including underground exile leaders. A huge picture of 1991 Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi was put in the wall of his residence and nobody could miss a glimpse of it."

I am in no way judgmental, especially about who should get the authority to look after the great leader during his last days, but I would like to appeal to all the relative and well wishers of George Fernandes, to pay the utmost respect to him in these his last days. I am also convinced that the pro-democracy Burmese communities should not forget the great personality of George Fernandez who toiled for all the initiatives we now have for restoration of democracy in the land of the military.

The author is a Guwahati, India based journalist and keeps an eye on Burma issues.

Nava ThakuriaNava Thakuria is a Guwahati (Northeast India) based journalist who contributes to NewsBlaze and various media outlets throughout the world. Contact him at navathakuria@yahoo.com

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

* The views of Opinion writers do not necessarily reflect the views of NewsBlaze

Related Opinions News

Since that time, the administration has claimed to have enrolled seven million Americans. Those numbers have many in Washington skeptical since there is no verifiable statistics or the ongoing questionable track record of administration promises.
Kimberly Jones investigates the Assad regimes systematic attacks on Douma (East Ghouta) and Hama.
Urgent action needed to save four prisoners, transferred on Wednesday morning, April 9, from Bandar Abbas prison to solitary cells for the implementation of death penalties.
When the Jews were exiled from Jerusalem, they were marginalized and lost most of their rights. They created a new system to become as self-sufficient as possible.
Dwight L. Schwab Jr. reports that Sharpton turned FBI informant after being caught on camera attempting to buy cocaine. A 1983 video, first shown on HBO, shows him buying kilos of drugs
'The cyclist creates everything from almost nothing, becoming the most energy-efficient of all animals and machines and, as such, has a [genuine] ability to challenge the entire value system of a society.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site