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Chapter 2 The Nationalist Movement in Indo-China

TEXTBOOK EXERCISES

Question 1.
Write a note on :
(a) What was meant by the ‘civilising mission’ of the colonisers ?
(b) Huynh Phu So.
Answer:
Like the British in India, the French claimed that they were bringing modem civilisation to the Vietnamese. They were of the opinion that Europe had developed the most advanced civilization. So it became the duty of the Europeans to introduce modem ideas in their colonies.
(i) They introduced modern education.
(ii) Tonkin Free Schools were opened to provide modern education.

Motive: The real motive behind this motion was to exploit the natural and human resources of Vietnam.
(b) Huynh Fhu So was a Buddhist religious scholar who was a native of the Mekong river delta.
His role in arousing the anti-imperialist sentiments :

  1. Founder of Hoa Hao Movement: Huynh Phu was the founder of the Hoa Hao Movement which drew on religious ideas popular in the anti-French uprisings of the nineteenth century.
  2. Social reformer: He was a great social reformer as he opposed the sale of child brides, gambling, and the use of alcohol and opium.
  3. Struggle against foreign rule: Huynh Phu So faced a great deal of trouble when he began to spread his ideas of religion because most of his followers were Vietnamese nationalists.
    The colonial government declared him mad, called him the Mad Bonze, and put him in a mental asylum. The French authorities exiled him to Laos and sent many of his followers to concentration camps.

Question 2.
Explain the following :

(a) Only one-third of the students in Vietnam would pass the school-leaving examinations.
(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.
Answer:
(a)

  1. In the sphere of education, the elites in Vietnam were powerfully influenced by Chinese culture. To consolidate their power, the French had to counter this Chinese influence. So they systematically dismantled the national educational system and established French schools for the Vietnamese.
  2. However, in practice, only the Vietnamese elite that comprised a small fraction of the population could enroll in the schools and only one-third of the students would pass the school¬leaving examinations. This was done because of the deliberate policy of failing students, particularly in the final year.
  3. The Vietnamese students were failed so that they could not qualify for the better-paid jobs.
  4. The result of this policy was that in the year 1925, in a population of 17 million, there were less than 400 who passed the examination.

(b) Like other European countries, France too considered colonies necessary to supply natural resources and other essential goods. Thus, the French began building canals and draining lands in the Mekong delta to increase cultivation.

  1. A vast system of canals and earthworks was built mainly with forced labour.
  2. As a result of irrigation works, the rice production increased. Rice was exported to the international market.
  3. The area under rice cultivation went up from 2,74,000 hectares in 1873 to 1.1 million hectares in 1900 and 2.2 million in 1930.
  4. Vietnam by 1931 became the third largest exporter of the rice in the world and exported two-thirds of its rice production.

(c)

  1. Under the pretext of their ‘civilising mission’, the French used education as one way to ‘civilise’ the native people. School textbooks glorified the French and justified colonial rule.
    The Vietnamese were considered primitive and backward, capable of manual labour but not of intellectual reflection. They could work in the fields but not rule themselves.
  2. Such a system of education and its curriculum was sometimes opposed openly and at other times there was silent resistance. As an open protest, one incident took place in 1926 in the Saigon Native Girls School where the principal, a colon, (French people in the colonies) followed a policy of discrimination and asked a Vietnamese girl to move from front seat to the back of the class and allowed a French student to occupy the front seat. On her refusal to do so, she was expelled. When angry students protested, they were also expelled. This led to open protests. As the situation was getting out of control, the government made the school take back the students it had expelled. This incident shows that there was opposition to colonial education as well as their policy of discrimination by the Vietnamese.

(d) Rats were most common in the modern newly built areas of Hanoi. The circumstances leading to rats being common in the modern Hanoi were as mentioned below :

  1. When the French set about creating a modern Vietnam, they rebuilt Hanoi using latest ideas about architecture and engineering skills.
  2. The French part of Hanoi city was beautiful and clean with wide avenues and a well-laid-out sewer system.
  3. On the other hand, there were no such modern facilities in the other part i.e., ‘native quarter’ of Saigon.
  4. The refuse from this part of the city drained straight out into the river or, during heavy rains or floods, overflowed into the streets.
  5. Thus, what was installed to create a hygienic environment in the French city became the cause of the plague.
  6. The large sewers in the modern part of the city, a symbol of modernity, were ideal and protected breeding ground for rats.
  7. The sewers also served as a great transport system because these sewers allowed the rats to move around the city without any problem. A-a result of it, the rats began to enter the homes of the French through sewage pipes. Thus, rats became common in the modern newly built areas of Hanoi and led to spread of plague.

Question 3.
Describe the ideas behind the Tonkin Free School. To what extent was it a typical example of colonial ideas in Vietnam?
Answer

  1. Tonkin Free School was started in 1907 to provide a western-style education.
  2. This education included classes in science, hygiene, and French.
  3. According to the school’s approach it was not enough to learn science and western ideas but to be modem the Vietnamese had to also look modern.
  4. The school encouraged the adoption of western styles such as having a short haircut.

It was a typical example of colonial ideas in Vietnam because the school encouraged the adoption of western styles such as short haircut that was a major break with their own identity since they traditionally kept long hair. To underline the importance of a total change there was even a ‘haircutting chant’.

Question 4.
What was Phan Chu Trinh’s objective for Vietnam? How were his ideas different from those of Phan Boi Chau?
Answer:
(1)

  1. Phan Chu Trinh’s objective for Vietnam was to establish a democratic republic.
  2. He was intensely hostile to the monarchy and opposed to the idea of resisting the French with the help of the court.
  3. He accepted the French revolutionary ideal of liberty but charged the French for not abiding by the ideal.
  4. He demanded that the French set up legal and educational institutions and develop agriculture and industries.

(2) The differences between the ideas of Phan Boi Chau a Confucian scholar-activist educated in the Confucian tradition and Phan Chu Trinh were as given below :

Phan Boi Chau

  1. He advocated that first the foreign enemy should be driven out and after achieving independence, other things could be discussed.
  2. He was of the opinion that the monarchy should be used to achieve their objectives.
  3. He was not in favour of raising people to abolish the monarchy.

Phan Chu Trinh

  1. He wished to overthrow the monarchy in order to create a basis for the promotion of popular rights.
  2. He was absolutely against the monarchy. He was opposed to the idea of resisting the French with the help of the court.
    He wanted to establish a democratic republic. He was greatly influenced by the democratic ideals of the West. He accepted the French revolutionary ideal of liberty and demanded that the French set up legal and educational institutions and develop agriculture and industries.
  3. He planned to raise up the people to abolish the monarchy.

Thus, the visions of Vietnamese independence and other ideas of both Phan Boi Chau and Phan Chu Trinh were different and diametrically opposed. They were pursuing one and the same goal, but their means were considerably different.

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