Chapter 2 The Nationalist Movement in Indo - China - Ncert Solutions for Class 10 History CBSE
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Chapter 2 - The Nationalist Movement in Indo - China Excercise 52
Like the British in India, the French gave their colonial interests a benign façade by terming it a 'civilizing mission'. It was claimed that the primary French aim was to bring modern civilisation to Vietnam. However, under the pretext of the civilising mission, the French colonial government attempted to destroy the local culture, religion and traditions. Matters of education and religion were taken over by the French and sought to expand government control over the Vietnamese public and private life. A definite drive was underway to reshape the social and cultural life of the Vietnamese people under the garb of the so called civilising mission.
Huynh Phu So was the founder of a popular anti-colonial religious movement Hoa Hao in 1939. This movement struck roots in the fertile Mekong delta area and served as an inspiration in arousing anti-imperialist sentiments. Huynh Phu So propagated reform of social evils like sale of child and brides, gambling, alcoholism, opium addiction, etc. The French government tried to suppress the movement, declared Huynh mentally unstable and put him in asylum. In 1941 he was declared sane and was exiled to Laos, and many of Hao Hoa's followers were deported to concentration camps.
This was mainly because the educational institutions followed a deliberate policy of failing Vietnamese students in order to prevent them from qualifying for better paid jobs. This was done to alleviate the insecurities of the French citizens living in Vietnam, known as colons, who feared that they might lose their economic opportunities at the hands of educated Vietnamese. Only the Vietnamese elite could enroll in the schools and most of them were used to education in Chinese language under the traditional system.
The French began building canals and draining lands in the Mekong delta in order to increase the land available for cultivation of rice. The increase in the production allowed export of rice to the international market and increased French profits.
The government made the Saigon Native Girls School take back the students it had expelled because it feared the protests of angry mobs of students might lead to similar protests in other institutions. By 1920s, students had formed political parties like Party of Young Annan and published nationalist journals. The government did not want to provide fodder to such nationalist elements and hence forced the Saigon Native Girls School to take the expelled students back.
The French part of Hanoi was built as clean city with wide streets and an elaborate sewer system. Adjacent to this French part of Hanoi was the native quarter which did not have such facilities. The refuse of the old city was drained into the river and during rains or floods, it overflowed onto the streets. Unfortunately, the large sewers in the new city were excellent breeding grounds and travel networks for rats. Hence they could often enter French homes through sewage pipes.
The main objective behind the establishment of the Tonkin Free School was to provide to the Vietnamese western style 'modern' education. This included classes in Science, Hygiene and French. Such classes were held in the evening and had to be paid for separately. Also, it was not enough to inculcate knowledge of science and western ideas. It was also considered a prerogative for the Vietnamese to look 'modern'. The Tonkin Free School encouraged the Vietnamese students to keep short haircuts unlike the traditional practice of keeping long hair. The French tried to consolidate their hegemony over the Vietnamese by controlling education, altering the Vietnamese sense of values and norms and making them accept the supposed superiority of French civilisation.
Ohan Chu Trinh was a staunch republican. He intended to overthrow the monarchy and create a democratic republic in Vietnam. He was greatly influenced by the western ideas of liberal democracy and accepted the French revolutionary ideal of liberty. However, at the same time he accused the French of not following this ideal and demanded that the French colonial government set up legal and educational institutions in Vietnam and invest in the development of agriculture and industries. Phan Boi Chau, on the other hand, was a revivalist who placed a premium on Vietnam's sovereignty. He considered modern Vietnam's break of cultural link with China as a major loss. He wanted to use the monarchy to drive out the foreign rulers and restore national independence, as position not at all agreeable to Phan Chu Trinh.
Before the French occupation of Vietnam, its culture and way of life was greatly influenced by that in China. The Chinese language had become the language of the Vietnamese elites and the French colonial government had to systematically destroy this influence by dismantling the traditional educational institutions and establishing French schools for the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese people were also greatly influenced by the teachings of certain Chinese philosophers and teachers. Vietnam's religious beliefs and practices were a mixture of Buddhism and Confucianism; which had come from China, and certain local religious practices. The elite in Vietnam used to be largely educated in Chinese and Confucianism.
The anti-colonial sentiment of the Vietnamese mainly erupted in two instances - the Scholar's revolt of 1868 and the Hoa Hao movement.
The Scholar's revolt was an early movement against French occupation and the spread of Christianity. It was led by officials of the imperial court who were uneasy with the spread of French power and Catholicism. There was an uprising in Ngu An and Ha Tien provinces where missionaries had converted approximately 3,00,000 people to Christianity by the 18th century. This had angered sentiments and led to the uprising. Though it was suppressed, it inspired future generations of the Vietnamese to rise against colonial exploitation.
The Hoa Hao movement began in 1939 and struck roots in the Mekong delta area. The founder Huynh Phu So was said to perform miracles and help the poor. Huynh Phu So propagated reform of social evils like sale of child and brides, gambling, alcoholism, opium addiction etc. The French government tried to suppress the movement, declared Huynh mentally unstable and put him in asylum. When he was declared sane in 1941, he was exiled to Laos and many of Hao Hoa's followers were deported to concentration camps.
The US decided to intervene in the power struggle in Vietnam since it was worried about the Communists gaining power in that country. In order to prevent this, the US intervened from the side of the South Vietnamese government and sent troops, heavy machinery and modern lethal weapons in order to aid it in the war against the north Vietnamese communist forces. The reason behind this eagerness to get involved in the Vietnam conflict was not only to prevent Ho Chi Minh and his followers from establishing a communist regime, but also to prevent proliferation of their leftist ideas to other areas of south east Asia.
The effects of the US involvement in the Vietnam on life within US are as follows:
- American citizens were critical of the American intervention. The forced recruitment of young American further angered the public.
- Compulsory service in the armed forces was waived only for University graduates. As a result, most of the soldiers that had to go to Vietnam had to be from minorities and working class families, making their situation difficult still.
- The US media played a major role in shaping up the public opinion. War propaganda films like John Wayne’s ‘Green Berets’ (1968) emphatically supported US involvement and inspired many to enlists themselves. At the same time films like Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979) took a grim view of the situation.
The Ho Chi Minh trail was a complex network of footpaths and roads, used to transport men and material from the north to the south of Vietnam. I many a times carried the transport by hoodwinking the US forces. The trail was improved from the late 1950s and from 1967 about 20,000 North Vietnamese soldiers used it each month to travel to the South. It had support bases and hospitals along the way. We got logistical support from such bases. In some portions of it, supply material was transported in trucks, but mostly they were carried by female porters. Such porters often carried about 25 kilos on their backs, or about 70 kilos on their bicycles. Most of the passage of the trail zigzagged through the neighbouring Laos and Cambodia with branch lines extending into South Vietnam. The US regularly bombed this trail trying to disrupt supplies. However, this policy failed because it was rebuilt very quickly.
As casualties in the Vietnam war increased in the 1960s, even women joined the struggle as soldiers. I was one amongst them. We helped in constructing underground rooms, tunnels and fighting the enemy. Our labour was used in keeping 2,195 km of strategic roads and 2,500 key points on the Ho Chi Minh trail. We often neutralized American bombs, transported cargo, weapons, food and even shot down enemy planes. As per need we not only worked as warriors but also as workers. As a result of our emphatic involvement in the war and our sacrifices, the general image of Vietnamese women was profoundly changed after the war.
Following are the points which throw some light on the involvement of women in the anti-imperialist struggle in Vietnam:
- Many women had joined the resistance movement of the Vietnamese against the US forces. They helped in nursing the wounded, constructing underground rooms and tunnels as well as fighting the enemy on the battleground.
- They often neutralized American bombs, transported cargo, weapons, food and even shot down enemy planes. As per need, they not only worked as warriors but also as workers.
- Of the 17,000 youth who worked on the Ho Chi Minh trail, almost 70% to 80% were women.
- As a result of their emphatic involvement in the war and sacrifices, the general image of Vietnamese women was profoundly changed after the conflict years.
In comparison to this, the involvement of the Indian women was qualitatively different. Though women got involved in the Indian National Congress led nationalist struggle, they weren't at the forefront. More often than not, they were relegated to constructive work rather than political protests. The fact that the Indian national movement was a non-violent one also changed the nature of women's involvement. Within the largely urban and conservative auspices of the movement in the initial stages, women's involvement was not much. However, as the movement developed in the later years, especially under the leadership of Gandhi, women participated more freely and actively.
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