Myanmar and Far Eastern India

The story of the natural disaster in Myanmar is utterly tragic. Historically, Myanmar has been a prosperous region with abundant natural resources and a fertile land, fed by the Brahmaputra and Irawati rivers. Myanmar and India share great cultural, religious, social traditions and heritage. The Far Eastern states of India (Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland) border Myanmar. 

During the Mahabharat period (130 generations before Alexander, according to Demosthenes), Arjun, the greatest warrior of that era, traveled to this eastern region. He married a princess of the Manipur kingdom and his son, Babhruvahan, became a great warrior and the King of Manipur. Babhruvahan fought on his father’s side in the Mahabharat War (the first known World War which involved the entire known world from Greece to East Asia). The traditions of the Mahabharat period are still observed in Indo-China.

More recently, during World War II, the Azad Hind Sena (Free Indian Army) formed by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose fought the British led Armies to win independence for India. The Azad Hind Sena fought the British from Singapore all the way across China and came up to Kohima & Imphal in Manipur. By this time, the Japanese had lost the land war and China had cut the supply lines. The Azad Hind Sena fought its last battle in Imphal. Despite its defeat, the Azad Hind Sena decisively broke the Indian Army’s loyalty to the British Raj.

In January 2008, the Indian Government signed a pact with Myanmar to build a major port at Sitwe in Myanmar, near the Indian border state of Mizoram. This port will lead to a waterway from the Bay of Bengal across western Myanmar to the Indian states of Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland. Hopefully, this will bring prosperity and good management to a land desperately in need of it.

The Indian diaspora (desis as they are fondly termed) does not know a great deal about the far eastern region of India. Rarely is this region discussed in conversations at with friends and acquaintances. 
 
Bollywood has been making an effort to bring this region to the attention of its viewers. The most recent example is “Chak De India”, the hit film about the young and always ignored Indian Women’s Field Hockey Team. The movie features two athletes from Manipur/Mizoram and draws attention, in good humor, to the fact that the rest of India knows little about Manipur and Mizoram.   

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