150 Years Since Gandhi Was Born
By Wei Yan Aung 2 October 2019
Yangon – Today is the 150th anniversary of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement against British colonial rule, who had an influence on Myanmar’s independence struggle.
Gandhi visited Myanmar, which was also colonized by the British and formed a part of British India, in 1902, 1915 and 1929. During his visits, he preached the principle of non-violence in the independence movement and urged citizens to use domestically manufactured goods rather than imported products.
Newspapers in the colonial period often featured news stories, articles, poems and cartoons about Gandhi’s non-violent resistance, contributing to the rise of nationalism.
Some of Myanmar’s politicians visited Gandhi in India to study his lessons on non-violent resistance to the British and his Swadeshi movement, which involved boycotting British products and the revival of domestic industries with traditional production processes.
Gandhi influenced Myanmar’s boycotting of British products and protests against the colonial government.
He also supported Myanmar’s independence movement and held prayers for General Aung San after his assassination. Gandhi met the same fate six months later in January 1948.
The first prime minister of independent Myanmar, U Nu, held prayers for Gandhi.
Gandhi’s preaching of non-violence later influenced Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of Gen. Aung San, in her fight for democracy. Gandhi Hall in Yangon is well preserved by the Indian community, and Gandhi Hospital (now Yangon Eastern Hospital) and Burmese-language books on Gandhi show his influence on Myanmar.