U Nu

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The first Prime Minister of the newly independent Union of Burma.U Nu took office in January 1948 and attempted to govern through a political ideology based on a blend of Buddhism and socialism. He sought to forge a national community in which individuals would overcome self-interest and desire for material goods, and a society in which property and class distinctions would be transcended. Drawing inspiration from the classical model of the Cakravartin or righteous king, his goal was to develop a welfare state under the benevolent rule of a wise leader. In 1950 he created the Buddha Sāsana Council and appointed a minister of religious affairs to supervise and regulate the monasteries. He also convened a council and produced a new edition of the Pāli Canon. Critics of U Nu suggested he was overly concerned with religious affairs to the point of neglecting the political, economic, and social problems that the country faced in adapting to the modern world. U Nu's government faced an insurrection only six months into office, but survived this and was ultimately overthrown in a military coup led by General Ne Win in 1962 who, in a move away from the Buddhist values of U Nu, sought to establish a secular, socialist state.

Subjects: Buddhism.

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