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Chapter 2: The Nationalist Movement In Indo China
Vietnam gained formal independence in 1945, before India, but it took another three decades of fighting before the Republic of Vietnam was formed. This chapter on Indo-China will introduce you to one of the important states of the peninsula, namely, Vietnam.
Nationalism in Indo-China developed in a colonial context. The knitting together of a modern Vietnamese nation that brought the different communities together was in part the result of colonization but, as importantly, it was shaped by the struggle against colonial domination.
If you see the historical experience of Indo-China in relation to that of India, you will discover important differences in the way colonial empires functioned and the anti-imperial movement developed. By looking at such differences and similarities you can understand the variety of ways in which nationalism has developed and shaped the contemporary world. Indo-China comprises the modern countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia (see Fig. 1).
Its early history shows many different groups of people living in this area under the shadow of the powerful empire of China.
Even when an independent country was established in what is now northern and central Vietnam, its rulers continued to maintain the Chinese system of government as well as Chinese culture.
Vietnam was also linked to what has been called the maritime silk route that brought in goods, people and ideas. Other networks of trade connected it to the hinterlands where non-Vietnamese people such as the Khmer Cambodians lived.
The colonization of Vietnam by the French brought the people of the country into conflict with the colonizers in all areas of life.
The most visible form of French control was military and economic domination but the French also built a system that tried to reshape the culture of the Vietnamese. Nationalism in Vietnam emerged through the efforts of different sections of society to fight against the French and all they represented.
French troops landed in Vietnam in 1858 and by the mid-1880s they had established a firm grip over the northern region. After the Franco-Chinese war the French assumed control of Tonkin and Anaam and, in 1887, French Indo-China was formed. In the following decades the French sought to consolidate their position, and people in Vietnam began reflecting on the nature of the loss that Vietnam was suffering.
Nationalist resistance developed out of this reflection. Colonies were considered essential to supply natural resources and other essential goods. Like other Western nations, France also thought it was the mission of the ‘advanced’ European countries to bring the benefits of civilization to backward peoples.
The French began by building canals and draining lands in the Mekong delta to increase cultivation. The vast system of irrigation works – canals and earthworks – built mainly with forced labour, increased rice production and allowed the export of rice to the international market.
The area under rice cultivation went up from 274,000 hectares in 1873 to 1.1 million hectares in 1900 and 2.2 million in 1930. Vietnam exported two-thirds of its rice production and by 1931 had become the third largest exporter of rice in the world. This was followed by infrastructure projects to help transport goods for trade, move military garrisons and control the entire region.
Construction of a trans-Indo-China rail network that would link the northern and southern parts of Vietnam and China was begun. This final link with Yunan in China was completed by 1910. The second line was also built, linking Vietnam to Siam (as Thailand was then called), via the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.
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NCERT Solutions Class 11 Social Science Chapter 2 The Nationalist Movement In Indo China
a. Why the growth of nationalism in the colonies is linked to an anti-colonial movement.
- People began discovering their unity in the process of their struggle with colonialism.
- The sense of being oppressed under colonialism provided a shared bond that tied many different groups together.
- But each class and group felt the effects of colonialism differently. Their experiences were varied and their notions of freedom were not always the same. The Congress under Mahatma Gandhi tried to forge these groups together within one movement. But the unity did not emerge without conflict.
b. How the First World War helped in the growth of the National Movement in India.
War created a new political and economic situation.
- Led to a huge increase in defence expenditure which was financed by war loans and increasing taxes: custom duties were increased and income tax introduced.
- Forced recruitment in villages caused widespread anger.
- Crops failed; this resulted in an acute shortage of food.
- 12 to 13 million people died due to famines and epidemics.
c. Why Indians were outraged by the Rowlatt Act.
- Rowlatt Act was introduced in 1919.
- This act was hurriedly passed through the Imperial Legislative Council, although it was completely opposed by Indian members.
- It had given the Government enormous powers to repress political activities.
- It allowed detention of political prisoners without trial for two years.
d. Why Gandhiji decided to withdraw the Non-Cooperation Movement.
In February 1922, Mahatma Gandhi decided to withdraw the Non-Cooperation Movement. He felt the movement was turning violent in many places, and satyagraha needed to be properly trained before they would be ready for mass struggles.
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