NEW DELHI – In ways big and small, Asia is still living with the tainted legacy of imperialism. Consider the debate now underway in Myanmar – or Burma to some. Because the imperial tongue found it difficult to pronounce “Myanmar,” the country’s no-nonsense British masters renamed it Burma (redrawing its borders as well for good measure).
The new name stuck until the military regime that ruled the country for decades restored the original one in 1989. Ironically, however, the newly empowered democratic opposition would like to bring back the name Burma, viewing “Myanmar” as emblematic of the dictatorship that they wish to leave behind.