Mixed Marriages Caused India-Burma Unrest? - The New Indian Express

Mixed Marriages Caused India-Burma Unrest?

Published: 23rd January 2014 07:59 AM

Last Updated: 23rd January 2014 08:00 AM

India and Burma might share a long history of tension in their relations, but what if one says that one of the major factors for those tensions could be mixed marriages between Indian men and Burmese women?

We might know that Indian migration to Burma was at its peak during late 19th and early 20th Century. Even today, it is not difficult to find Indians on the streets of Burma. But in 1930s, amidst various political, social, legal and demographic changes, something interesting like mixed marriages were in focus.

Burmese nationals targeted Indian men and claimed that they exploited not just their women, but also their nation, says Rajashree Mazumder, Postdoctoral Associate and Lecturer in Yale University, during her presentation on ‘Mixed marriages and Immigration debates in Burma’ in the city on Tuesday.

“Though there were men from many other countries who went to Rangoon to earn money, it was Indian men who were identified and highlighted by the Burma middle class, who stereotyped Indian men and Burmese women that led to exploitation of both. It was considered that Indian men influenced the nation in many ways especially luring Burmese women, marrying them during their stay in Burma and leaving them hopeless after returning to India,” said Rajashree Mazumder.

She elaborated on how this argument was strengthened by the stereotyping of Burmese women as those of loose morals and Indian men as exploiting agents, especially Muslim Indian men, and how this led to immigration debates. She also pointed out that the apathetic stand that was taken by both Indian and Burmese nations showed that they did not wanted to resolve the issue.

Instead, Indian men were held responsible even by the Indian members of Burma legislative assembly.

“The elite of both the nations did not consider resolving it. According to them, it was a problem of the working class Indian men and who belonged to lower caste. All these led to various changes, especially restriction of immigration permits based on marriages and Introduction of the Special Marriages and Succession Act 1927 to rescue Burmese women from Indian men. But in reality, it was Indian men who were exploited and physically ill-treated,” argues Rajashree, who puts forward this as a thesis sympathising on Indian men who were responsible for the development of Burma due to their hard work.

Rajashree gives detailed insights on this issues in her book—Indian immigration during Colonial India (1885 - 1948), that is yet to be released.

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