Lost Footsteps
Lost Footsteps

Myanmar's Neighbours Past and Present

1945
Queen of Hlihin

The photograph shows our neighbours to the north: a queen of the Hlihin in what is today western Yunnan c.1945. The Hlihin were an independent people who speak a language related to Burmese; their homeland was absorbed into the Peoples Republic of China in the 1950s.

4 December 1947
U Nu with Gandhi in Delhi 1947

The photograph is from the last meeting between U Nu and Mahatma Gandhi, taken at Birla House, Delhi, on 4 December 1947, a little over a month before Gandhi was assassinated. Mahatma Gandhi was wearing a hat just given to him by soon to be Prime Minister U Nu (then Premier Thakin Nu).

The struggle against British colonialism is a shared history of Burma and India. Mahatma Gandhi visited Rangoon three times: in 1902, 1915 and 1929. He had a...

15 August 1947 - 4 December 1947
A Shared History of India and Burma Independence

India became independent from the British Empire on 15 August 1947. The country was partitioned and the new state of Pakistan was created at the same time. India and Burma immediately established diplomatic ties, but as Burma was then not yet an independent republic outside the Commonwealth, the country was represented in New Delhi by a High Commissioner (U Win).

Burma's road to independence was intimately tied with India's. Modern Burmese politics began with the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms of 1917 and the...

1 January 1947 - 27 May 1964
Burma’s great friend, Pandit Nehru

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru died in 27 May 1964. He was always a great friend of Burma and visited many times from the 1930s onwards. This is a photograph of him with General Aung San, taken on New Year's Day 1947 at Delhi's Safdarjung airport. General Aung San was on his way to London for talks on Burmese independence. Pandit Nehru realized General Aung San's tropical outfit would not be suitable for London, which was then experiencing one of its coldest...

1949
Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon ("My husband went to Rangoon")

This is one of the most famous songs in India - "Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon" ("My husband went to Rangoon").  It's from the 1949 hit movie "Patanga"

Rangoon for many Indians was a place of prosperity, a place to reinvent your life and be free.  One Indian family now in the United States told me it was their "first America".  

In this song, the wife talks only of missing her husband.  The husband tells her that he is living...

1950s
Northwest Yunnan, a place of stunning natural beauty.

Just across the border from Kachin State is the first bend of the Yangtze River. Many of the people of this area speak Naxi, a language closely related to Burmese (Myanmar) and more distantly to Jingpo/Jinghpaw and other Tibeto-Burman langauges. The Naxi kingdom was an independent kingdom until the 1950s.

1960
Why relations with China is important

Getting relations with China right are critical for the country's economic future and for the success of the ongoing peace talks. Myanmar is today next door to the greatest industrial revolution of the 21st century - the lives of ordinary people will be shaped more by how it handles (or mishandles) this position than by almost anything else. Every major turn in Chinese history has had an enormous impact on Myanmar, from the Mongol conquests to the fall of the...