Independence and Democracy in Burma, 1945–1952
The Turbulent Years
The memoir of Balwant Singh, a civil servant under both the British and independent governments of Burma, provides a dramatic account of the turbulent years immediately following World War II.
From the perspective of a District Officer and later Deputy Commissioner in rural Burma, Singh details both the changes and continuities in local administration which accompanied independence. This period of violent maneuvering between the Communists, Karen, Chin, Kachin, People’s Volunteer Organizations, and army and local police units brought Burma to the verge of fragmentation. When the town of Yamethin was cut off from government support in 1949, Singh cleverly used his ties within the community to unite the people. Altogether, the memoir documents how personal relationships and loyalties between individuals were frequently key factors affecting the local balance of power. This graphic and lively eye-witness account reveals how the major political events discussed in standard histories actually unfolded away from the centers of power.
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