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Globalization & Myanmar

By Dr. Daw Khin Ni Ni Thein (www.wrtcburma.org)

The following is the contribution the WRTC made to the Globalisation E-forum organized by the World Bank. A four week long forum was  successfully ended on last week Friday, 26 May 2000.

Approximately more than two millions people around the world participated including myself. The reflections for over all  discussions were posted on Tuesday because Monday was the US holiday. 



Original Subject: A view from a unique country which bears two 
names: Burma and Myanmar


Dear ALL,

This is my first and last posting to the forum. I have learnt a lot during the past four weeks. The best experience of all is being enlightened by those whom I think have much knowledge, dignity and experience than I ever had and going to have in this very life. Thanks to you ALL.

My humble self is called Khin Ni Ni Thein, a woman from Burma. 
I am originally a water resources engineer who ended up as a 
Hydroinformatician after obtaining a Ph.D. degree in Hydroinformatics. To utilise this knowledge in its fullest I founded a non-profit NGO called Water, Research and Training Centre for a new Burma (WRTC), URL is http://www.wrtcburma.org, a knowledge-based resource centre which uses ICT as its primary vehicle. The WRTC is three years old now. It took an initiative to set up *an unprecedented example* for other NGOs 
to operate in Myanmar or Burma. Hence it is a pioneer-role-model 
NGO of its kind. The current activities are (1) capacity building, (2) institutional building, (3) research, (4) advocacy, (5) learning, (6) gender issues, (7) networking, (8) mediation and (9) free consultancy. 

Having introduced both the organisation and myself, I would like to contribute a short discussion which is based upon the overall discussion that has taken place during the past 4 weeks and our own aspirations as a unique nation with two names, Burma and Myanmar.

There were about 50+ points I wrote down and commented on. 
I then boiled them down to six.

(1) Globalisation, empowerment and the poor
(2) Learning
(3) Fair share mechanism
(4) Peace 
(5) Transitional Economy
(6) Poverty eradication

Although six points are listed the first five can be seen as means to reach an end called poverty eradication. Transitional economy is listed instead of economy because my emphasis is on the developing countries in general and my own nation in particular as a LDC country. Please excuse me for a developing-world-centric.

From point one to five following its path with correct definitions, which give us ways to eradicate poverty, to promote the real development and to sustain the planet Earth, our only home. Correct me if I am wrong or incomplete. What I mean by following its path with correct definitions is 
this. For example, peace is not just lack of fighting. Peace is a state of living that prevails and at the same time assures harmony, freedom and happiness based upon fair sharing of all tangible and intangible human needs within inter- and intra-communities. Also the definition of fair 
share mechanism/paradigm/narrative can be found in the postings of Anne K. Haugestad <akhauges@online.no> and relative responses during week 4.

Issues of globalisation, empowerment and poverty had been discussed to the extent that we do have enough knowledge to work on - or act upon. The same to the case with development models and modes of development. In fact, all these have been a great learning period with the aid of ICT, Information and Communication Technology. Without Internet and e-mail facilities how could we all (more than two million participants) discuss and interact as we have done during past four weeks. 

At this point, let me be a Myanmar-Burmese-centric here. As a woman from this unique country, I can't help but fitting my country into this gigantic GLOBALISATION business and its *dynamism*. For us, to be on the Globalisation train is "a Nivirna problem", so to speak, it means more than life and death. 

We are poorest of the poor, at the bottom of the LDC country list. We have a problem defining "the sovereignty" let alone to exercise it or empower it. We have a problem of learning which ranks two on the above list. I am not complaining about the closure of the universities and institutes. In fact, on the Co-operative Community Life-long Learning Centres electronic forum, we have been talking about de-schooling and um-schooling. The problem in Myanmar or Burma is deeper than that. *The deprivation of learning environment*, so to speak. The empowerment of locals, poor-people and women follow the 
same suits. For these reasons Burma or Myanmar is not on the 
Globalisation train, I am afraid. Not yet.

So, why I am here for? This forum is to discuss about Globalisation. However, my first duty is to put our country on the train nicely. The second is to make sure that the train won't derail - by all means.

To this end, I would like to point out without money and water we won't live. The second World Water Forum was held in March 2000 in The Hague. We, all participants, discussed about WATER thoroughly, furiously, positively, desperately and enthusiastically. Although ALL of us agreed to acknowledge that water is both a commodity (with few conditions) and *a human right*, the latter did not appear in an official statement signed by the ministers at the ministerial meeting held on 22 March 2000. In consolation it appeared on the separate document as an official acknowledgement. Be sad or happy is entirely up to an individual. What lesson we have learnt is money speaks louder. Well, then, if it is the reality, let's face it. But the question is HOW?

As a dedicated Buddhist, I would go with a middle way, a Buddhist's way. The essence is "facing the harsh reality with wisdom and compassion". However, correct and precise definitions for these two words, 'wisdom' and 'compassion', is necessary. [To keep the posting short, let me refer to the book entitled "Good question good answer" by S. Dhammika, pp 36-39, ISBN- 983-9382-08-x]. True wisdom is to directly see and understand for ourselves. The middle way approach gives us an option to develop things in the right direction. Keeping wisdom and compassion work hand in hand harmoniously for us, we can avoid making decisions as a good hearted fool (a compassion driven person) or as a robot (a strict rational being). The belief that 
wisdom can best be developed when all emotions, including 
compassion, are kept out of the way, provide us nuclear bomb, 
germ warfare, and the like.

Having this middle path in mind we still need professionals who 
can reconstruct the country. My best bet is to train and capacitate 'Socio-technologists' instead of 'technologists'. *Right-minded professionals* instead of professionalised  professionals!!! Dissemble the 'separatism' in all levels of education and promote 'holism'. We don't need schools. We can learn something under the trees practically. What we need is just a 'different way of thinking' and a bit of 'creativity'. 

I am looking forward to the next 'Globalization' forum and I am sure we (Burmese-Mynmarnese people) will be talking about our experience on globalisation then.

Thanks for your time and attention.

Dr. Khin Ni Ni Thein
Founder 
Water, Research and Training Centre for a new Burma (WRTC)
http://www.wrtcburma.org

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