What’s happening in Myanmar?

CKS is currently carrying out research in Myanmar in collaboration with LIRNEasia. The purpose of this project is to understand the Bottom of the Pyramid Micro Entrepreneurs and the need of communication in their everyday life. With two new private telecom companies coming soon and providing services at lower prices and tariffs, it will not be long before the lifestyle of these Micro Entrepreneurs transform. The illustration below is an attempt to explain what the research entails.

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The Team
I’m here with Zen Research from Myanmar and LIRNEasia from Sri Lanka.

The City
There are two teams from CKS covering five different cities for this project- Yangon, Naypyidaw, Bago, Mandalay and Mawlamyine. I was in Naypyidaw last week. This city is known for its mysterious origin. The government was secretly moved from Yangon to here in 2005. The name Naypyidaw means ‘The Kingdom’ in English. In the city, there are 8 townships and all their names are ancient words taken from the Pali language and stand for peace and prosperity. The city looks very well planned and has some very good infrastructure. There are long wide roads, gigantic roundabouts and palatial government offices. But, all of this seems pointless after a while as no one lives in this city. It is sometimes referred to as the “Ghost town”. The only people you will see here are visiting government officials and a few passersby. At present, the city is preparing to hold the 24th ASEAN summit and the flags can be seen everywhere.

Long empty roads and houses.

Long empty roads and houses.

Gigantic roundabouts with ASEAN flags.

Albino elephant- a symbol of monarchy on display outside the Pagoda in Naypyidaw.

IMG_2390The People
This city has absorbed a lot of neighboring townships which used to be big and busier before Naypyidaw came. They were a part of the main railway line connecting many divisions before the Naypyidaw railway station was built. They have all been pushed to the periphery now. In these townships, people still live a simple life. They still live in traditional houses built out of teak and bamboo, and fill water from open wells. I have had the opportunity to interview some really interesting respondents here who earn their livelihood out of bamboo craft making, pottery, tailoring, selling news journals, fortune telling and so on. I’m sharing some of the pictures from Naypyidaw and will share some from Bago soon.

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A traditional bamboo house.

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Kids at Play school.

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Kids at play.

Buddha Gaya- a replica of Bodh Gaya in India.

Buddha Gaya- a replica of Bodh Gaya in India.

A home based water purifier.

A home based water purifier.

More coming soon.

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