The first stage in the gradual disillusionment of the people of Burma has been reached. As a compensation for the loss of their newly won independence, the Burmese people have been presented with a new Bill which is now before the British Parliament. This Bill is accompanied by the usual vague promise of self-government for the future. For the present, the only possible thing that Burma will get will be an Executive Council which will be responsible, not to the Burmese people or their Legislature, but to the Governor himself. A few officials and non-officials and some Britishers will be given seats in the Executive Council. There will be a debating society in the shape of a legislature, which will have no control over the Governor or his Executive Council, and which will serve as an entertainment to those who love to talk.
If the British think that the people of Burma, who have had a taste of independence, however short-lived, will be deceived by such tricks then I must say that they have learnt nothing since they were driven out of East Asia. It goes without saying that the disillusionment which has begun to overtake the Burmese people will be complete when they finally realise that the British promise of self-government, not of independence, is nothing more than similar promises made in the past. I have no doubt in my mind that when complete disillusionment ultimately overtakes them, the Burmese people will turn against their British rulers with the weapons that they recently secured when they were enjoying their independence.
It is very interesting to note in this connection that there is no talk whatsoever of a national army for Burma. Independent Burma had an army of its own, however small it might have been. But under the benign scheme of their British liberators, the Burmese people will not have an army of their own. If the British think that this will not be noted by the Burmese people, then they are living in a fool’s paradise. What is adding to the general disillusionment that is stepping in, is the provisional order issued by the British military authorities in Burma which virtually abolishes, without any compensation, the prevailing currency. It is well known that whenever there is a change of government in any country in the world the new government accepts for a certain period of time the prevailing currency at par until a change-over to the new-currency takes place. In a way I am glad that the Britishauthorities in Burma have issued this order abolishing the prevailing currency, because it will bring acute economic distress to the Burmese people and thereby help more than anything else to rouse their resentment and indignation.
The proposals made by Mr Amery, Secretary of State for Burma, and Prime Minister Churchill have truly proved to be of the worst order. I hope and trust that they will go on making similar blunders so that the revolution that is inevitable in Burma will come sooner than one might expect today. While the bill that is now before Parliament takes Burma politically back to the year 1909, on the economic side the British Government has assured Burma of a return to the status quo ante, that is, to the exploitation of Burma by the Burma Oil Company, Burma Corporation, and so many other British firms. That the Burmese people would welcome a return to their pre-war economic status can be believed only by one who has taken leave of his senses.
According to London reports, the Labour Party has given its support the other day to this measure sponsored by the Coalition Cabinet. This is a further proof, if such proof is needed, that with regard to dependent countries like India and Burma there is no difference between the policy of the Conservative Party and that of the Labour Party. Those Indians who still think that the advent of the Labour Party to power will bring an advantage to India should take a leaf out of Burma’s experience. Speaking for myself, I may say that I hope and trust that the Conservative Party will be returned to power, so that under the lashes of British imperialism the people of India may come out in open revolt in order to break once for all the shackles of slavery.