On Page 35
Question 1. Imagine you are a student in the Tonkin Free School in 1910. How would you react to
- what the textbooks say about the Vietnamese?
- what the school tells you about hairstyles?
Answer : The textbooks are highly biased. They are glorifying the French people and justifying colonial rule. In these books, the Vietnamese are shown as primitive, backward and not capable of mental reflection. The textbooks propagate the myth that the Vietnamese are only capable of working as agricultural labourers but cannot rule their nation. They are very skilful at copying. I will definitely not agree to what the textbooks say and condemn them.
The school tells us to keep our hair short so as to look ‘modern ’. This is against our culture, as traditionally we have always keep long hair. In any case, hairstyle is a personal matter and the school cannot dictate to us what hairstyle we should keep.
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Question 1. What does the 1903 plague and the measures to control it tell us about French colonial attitude towards questions of health and hygiene?
Answer : Plague is a disease caused by rats. Sometime it assumes the form of an epidemic. In 1903, the modern part of Hanoi was struck by bulonic plague. The main cause for this was the increasing number of rats in sewers which were laid out in the French part of Hanoi to keep the city beautiful and clean.
To control plague, measures were taken as follows
The French hired many Vietnamese workers and they were paid for each rat caught, by them. This rat hunting was started in 1902 and on 30th May, 20,000 rats were caught but the problem of rats could not be solved completely. However, this proved beneficial to the Vietnamese workers as they were paid for each tail of the rat. They did not kill the rats but only clipped their tails and set them free again . In short, we can say that the French were deceived.
This shows that the French attitude towards health and hygeine was hypocritical and exploited the Vietnamese for two reasons
- The modern city with sewer age was made only where the French lived neglecting the old city areas where the Vietnamese lived.
- The activity of entering the sewers to catch the rats was given to the Vietnamese, without caring how their health would be affected.
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Question 2. What ideas did Phan Boi Chu and Phan Chu Trinh share in common? What did they differ on?
Answer : The goal of both the leaders was the same-freedom of Vietnam from French colonial rule, but they wanted to gain it through different ways.
Phan Chu Trinh wanted to overthrow the monarchy in order to form a basis for the promotion of the popular rights by establishing a democratic republic .
His opinion was not to gain freedom from the French colonial rule through the monarchy. Also, he did not want to boycott Western civilization. He also liked the democratic ideals of the West. He was much influenced by the French revolutionary ideal of liberty and so he accepted it.
Opposite to it Phan Boi Chau was much affected by the Confucian tradition and was in favour of driving out the French, using the monarchy.
He wished that first the foreign enemy should be driven out and after their nation’s freedom was restored they could talk about other things.
Write in brief
Question 1. Write a note on
(a) What was meant by ‘civilizing mission‘ of the colonisers?
(b) Huynh Phu So
(a) The European countries acquired colonies in the East Asian countries to exploit their natural resources. Like other European countries the French also propagated that it was their mission to bring the benefits of civilisation to backward people. They posed that they were driven by the idea of the civilising mission. Like the British in India, the French claimed they were bringing modern civilization to Vietnam. They considered that it was their duty to bring modern ideas into their colonies even at the cost of destroying the local culture, belifes, etc.
(b) Huynh Phu So was a revolutionary leader who started an religious tradition known as the Hoa Hao. Huynh Phu So was a nationalist icon and became a wanted man for the French colonial authorities,having gained 100,000 followers in less than a year. He was declared the ‘Mad Bonze’ and put in a mental asylum by the French. He performed miracles and helped the poor; condemning unnecessary expenses, gambling, intoxication and the sale of child brides. He was declared sane in 1941, but was exiled to Laos after the doctor treating him also became his follower.
Question 2. Explain the following
(a) Only one-third of students in Vietnam would pass the school-leaving examination.
(b) The French began building canals and draining lands in the Mekong delta.
(c) The Government made the Saigon Native Girls School take back the students it had expelled.
(d) Rats were most common in the modern, newly built areas of Hanoi.
(a) So, few students passed the school-leaving examination because, the French did not want to give full access to French education to the Vietnamese, as then they would compete with the French people in Vietnam for jobs.
(b) Like other European powers, the French wanted to exploit the natural resources and other essential goods in her colonies . Vietnam had fertile land which was suitable for rice and plantation crops. So, they began building canals and draining land in the Mekong delta region to increase agricultural production. As a result, production increased manifold and Vietnam become the third largest exporter of rice in the world.
(c) When the French principal of the Saigon Native Girls School expelled the students protesting another student’s expulsion, there was widespread remonstration. Considering the gravity of the situation, the government decided to control the intensity of the protests by providing an outlet – making the school take back the expelled students.
(d) Rats were common in the modern, newly built areas of Hanoi because the sewer system provided an ideal breeding ground for them and was also a good transport system for them. The large sewers now became a protected breeding and living space for rats.
Question 3. Describe the ideas behind the Tonkin free school. To what extent was it a typical example of colonial ideas in Vietnam?
Answer : The ideas behind the Tonkin Free School were predominantly based on policies of Westernisation of the locals. Students were taught science, hygiene and French, and were encouraged to adopt Western styles of dressing. This school was a typical example of colonial ideas in Vietnam. It rejected traditional Vietnamese education and lifestyle while promoting Western ideals of living. Like typical colonists , the French tried to control the Vietnamese identity, culture and customs, besides controlling their territory.
Question 4. What was Phan Chu Trinh objective for Vietnam? How were his ideas different from those of Phan Boi Chau?
Answer : Phan Chu Trinh’s objective for Vietnam was to make it a democratic republic, along the Western ideals of liberty. He accused the French of not following their own national ideals, and demanded the setting up of legal and educational institutions along with the development of agriculture and industries.
Phan Boi Chau wanted to use the monarchy to drive out the French, before deciding further action. But Phan Chu Trinh was extremely opposed to the monarchy and wanted the monarch removed to make Vietnam a republic.
Question 1. With reference to what you have read in this chapter, discuss the influence of China an Vietnams culture and life.
Answer : China influenced Vietnam’s culture in many ways before the French conquered Vietnam. The early history of this region ( Indo-China) shows different groups of people living here under the shadow of the powerful empire of China. Even when the Vietnamese gained independence in 1945, the rulers maintained the use of Chinese governance systems and culture.
The elites were vastly influenced by Chinese culture and life, as has been elucidated in Phan Boi Chau’s book ‘The History of the Loss of Vietnam’. Chinese language and Confucianism were followed by the upper classes in Vietnam. In 1911, when the Chinese Republic came into being, students in Vietnam organised the Association for the Restoration of Vietnam. Vietnamese men also kept their hair long, which was an old Chinese tradition.
Question 2. What was the role of religious groups in the development of anti-colonial movement in Vietnam?
Answer : Religious groups played an important role in the development of anti-colonial movement in Vietnam. Vietnamese religious beliefs were a mixture of Buddhism, Confucianism and local practices. When French introduced Christianity here, the Vietnamese reacted sharply. As a result an early anti-Christianity movement, Scholars Revolt broke out in 1868. This was led by the officials, at the imperial court angered by the spread of Christianity and French power. The French supressed this revolt but this uprising inspired the other patriots to rise up against them.
The role of Hoa Hoa Movement led by Huynh – Phu – So in 1939 in Mekong delta region is also significant in the development of anti-colonial movement in Vietnam.
Question 3. Explain the causes of the US involvement in the war in Vietnam. What effect did this involvement have on the life within the US itself?
Answer : Causes of US involvement in the war in Vietnam Spread of communism in Vietnam was the major cause for US involvement in war against Vietnam. Humiliation faced by the French in the hands of Vietnamese. NLF (National Liberation Front) efforts to unite North and South Vietnam.
Effect of US involvement on life with in US itself had suffered a huge loss of men and money. The war grew out fear among the US policy planner that the victory of Ho-Chi-Mmh Government would start a demind effect.
Nearly 47224 American solider were died in battle field and 303734 were found of the total wounder 23104 were 100% disabled.
Question 4. Write an evaluation of Vietnamese war against the US from point of
(a) Porter in the Ho Chi Minh Trail
(b) A woman solider
(a) I was proud to be a porter on this important lifeline of the army named after our great leader Ho Chi Minh. For many years I have carried material for our revolutionary troops to far distances through mountains and valleys on this trail. Most of the porters were women who were not involved in the actual fighting. The paths were mostly through our neighbouring countries of Laos and Cambodia with branch trails leading to our country. The planes of the USA bombed the trail regularly, thus putting our lives in danger. But we carried on without fear, as it was a question of our freedom. After almost 15 years of fighting, we won the war and proclaimed our independence in 1975.
(b) I joined the army as a soldier as there were a large number o f casualties among our men. I left my elder daughter to look after the home and the younger children. I was mostly involved in helping the army in maintaining the supplies as well as constructing underground bunkers, tunnels and roads. I was trained in using the rifle and was involved in one battle against the troops of the USA, in which I shot dead one soldier of the enemy. The immense courage of us women, our sacrifice, patriotism and bravery made us also heroes of the war like our men.
Question 5. What was the role of women in the anti-imperial struggle in Vietnam? Compare this with the role of women in the nationalist struggle in India.
Answer : Women played an equally important role as the men in the anti-imperial struggle in Vietnam. Women who rebelled against social conventions were idolised and rebel women of the past were likewise celebrated. Trieu Au, who lived in the third century CE, was a popular figure in nationalist tales. In the 1960s, women were repres ented as brave soldiers and workers. They assisted in nursing wounded soldiers, constructing roads and underground tunnels as well as fighting the enemy. Between 1965 and 1975, 70-80% of the youth working on t he Ho Chi Minh trail were women.
Compared to this direct and active participation of Vietnamese women in the anti-imperial struggle, India women played a very small role in the nationalist struggle of India against Great Britain. They followed Gandhian ideals of boycotting foreign goods and picketing liquor shops, but mainstream politics was controlled by the men. However, some women like Sarojini Naidu, Kamla Nehru and Kasturba Gandhi were keenly involved in the nationalist movement.