On This Day

The Day Myanmar’s Independence Hero Met Nehru

By Wei Yan Aung 2 January 2021

Yangon — On this day in 1947, Myanmar’s independence hero, General Aung San, arrived at New Delhi airport in India. Jawaharlal Nehru, who would become the first prime minister of India in August that year, cordially welcomed him. “Hello Aung San,” he said while hugging his guest.

The leader of the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League was en route to London to discuss Burmese independence with the British prime minister, Clement Attlee. He stopped in Delhi to seek input from Nehru, who he had known since he was a student leader. Nehru took him to his house where his daughter, Indira, who would become India’s only female prime minister, catered for the guest.

Gen. Aung San stayed in Delhi for four days and had wide-ranging political discussions with Nehru, 26 years his senior. He attended the Indian Science Congress, visited the General Headquarters of India, Viceroy Archibald Percival Wavell and attended a tea party at the Indian defence minister.

A day before Gen. Aung San left India for London, Nehru noticed his friend’s flimsy khaki uniform and decided it would be insufficiently warm for a London winter. He had his tailors make warm clothing for Gen. Aung San and his secretary, Lieutenant Tun Hla (also known as the writer Tekkatho Ne Win).

January 1947 was one of the coldest months recorded in London but the greatcoat from Nehru enabled Gen. Aung San to endure the winter chill.

India gained independence from Britain on Aug. 15, 1947, and Myanmar (then Burma) secured independence on Jan. 4, 1948.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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