By Aung Khin
Cowhands are the workers who are hired by the livestock owners to take care of their cattle. In Great Britain, the same meaning is ascribed to the term “cowman.” A cowman is also responsible for managing the milking of the herd. However, his role is distinct from that of the dairy farmer who owns the cattle and the milk they produce.
In Myanmar tradition, cowhands have to look after the cattle for pasture in the daytime and bring back the herds to the owner in the evening. But they have no rights to the milk from the cows.
Buddha compared His learned disciples who go through the motions of religious practice without seriously seeking to liberate themselves from mental defilement with cowhands. These disciples just memorize, recite and teach others the treatises in much the same was as cowhands take care of the cattle without getting any milk or butter.
Likewise, Myanmar should not be the hired cowhands in relations with the international community. Neighbouring countries and regional economies are constructing road networks which will pass through Myanmar. This infrastructure should benefit Myanmar. While physical development is usually followed by impacts on the environment, Myanmar should take advantage of this infrastructure.
From the tourism industry to the trade sector, and from the education system to human resource issues, Myanmar needs to be ready for upcoming challenges from neighbouring countries. When
networks are built, both inflows and outflows
can be seen.
Myanmar should not lose opportunities through its association with the international community. The development projects should be managed to ensure higher social status for Myanmar’s citizens. Just accepting foreign investment, without trying to gain long-term benefits from it, would leave Myanmar with the status of cowhands who have no rights to the dairy products of the cattle they tend.