Vietnamese people are an amazing example of bravery
More than 30 lakh people were killed in the war that lasted for around 20 years; guerrilla fighters killed 58,000 American soldiers
Vijay Darda : We just celebrated our 69th Republic Day. We showcased our military might on the Rajpath. Do we however, remember that our Republic is a precious gift from those brave freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives in the fight for independence? To keep this Republic intact, our brave soldiers lay their lives on the border every day. But are we able to instill the spirit of patriotism and bravery in our youth? I think this feeling of patriotism is seen only in the Army. Recently, I visited Vietnam. There, this patriotic spirit was visible to me in every person. We should also take meaningful steps to instill the spirit of patriotism in our new generation.
I have been hearing the stories of suppression of the Vietnamese people by the American army for years. I always wondered how the global superpower was forced by a small country like Vietnam to retreat. I wanted to experience that example of bravery first hand, so I went to Vietnam. There I reached the Cu Chi Tunnels where the US rained many bombs, but could not vanquish the indefatigable spirit of the guerrilla fighters. During my visit to Vietnam, I saw the War Museum which bears an eloquent testimony to the horror stories of American repression.
First of all, let us try to know in brief why this war took place? France had occupied the territory of Vietnam. Later, under the Geneva accord, Vietnam was divided into two parts. The northern part was called the Vietnamese People’s Republic, of which that great revolutionary Ho Chi Minh became the president. However, as the United States was concerned over the growing influence of communism, it triggered a coup in Southern Vietnam and made its favourite man prime minister. But the patriotic organisation named Viet Khang became the biggest challenge for America. Having been divided into Northern and Southern parts, China was supporting North Vietnam’s army and the United States rushed in support of South Vietnam in 1955. The two neighbouring countries of Laos and Cambodia also came in support of North Vietnam, despite knowing that America is a superpower and could crush any country by dint of its military strength.
Meanwhile, the government of Southern Vietnam tried to destroy the revolutionary organisation Viet Khang but did not succeed. Then America took up this responsibility. The American army realised the firepower of these revolutionaries when they killed many American soldiers in the forests. In fact, Viet Khang made a network of tunnels called Cu Chi for its protection. They used to kill American soldiers and enter into it immediately after and put up barricades of barbed wires on the entrance, unravelling which many soldiers died.
During my visit, I saw Cu Chi Tunnels. Now it is allowed to visit some of them with the help of guide. They are such a network of tunnels that any army will get stupefied. That’s what happened. It was this network of tunnels that helped the Vietnamese fighters score victories over the American army. American soldiers tried several times to get into the tunnels following the fleeing Vietnamese soldiers. Many a time, American soldiers entered the tunnels but never returned. All were killed! Finally, America started bombing them, but the tunnels were such that American bombs hardly made any impact on them! America got perturbed.
This was the story of tunnels. Now when I visited the War Museum, I was horrified by the instances of cruelty and repression perpetrated by America. Many journalists and photographers were martyred in this war. The circumstances were such that journalists and photographers used to go there only in military uniforms. The war lasted from December 1, 1956 to April 1975, and during that period the United States destroyed not only Vietnam but also Laos and Cambodia. History is witness to the fact that during the 20 years of the war, the US Air Force dropped a bomb every 8 minutes for almost 9 years. Analysts assume that in this fight, about 26 crore cluster bombs were lobbed on Vietnam and Laos. So far, half of the people who have been killed by cluster bombs worldwide are from this area. Not only this, Americans also used toxic gas in Vietnam. Its effect is still visible. More than 30 lakh people were killed in this war. Many were crippled. However, the US had to pay a huge price. Guerrilla fighters killed 58,000 American soldiers in this war. The US government also faced protests back home. People were asking why the US had jumped into Vietnam. People took to the streets asking this question. The result was that in the year 1973, the US started its withdrawal from Vietnam. Richard Nixon was the President of America at that time. He thought that running away from Vietnam is the only way out. The Vietnamese guerrillas had created such a reign of terror that the American army left their weapons and fled from Vietnam.
After the US withdrawal, in 1975, the communist army of North Vietnam took over Saigon, the largest city in southern Vietnam, with the help of South Vietnam’s revolutionaries, and the two countries merged to become the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Now this city of Saigon is known as Ho Chi Minh City after the revolutionary leader. He died in 1969 during the war but his followers fulfilled his dream of sending the United States back from Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh loved India very much. India always supported him during the war and he had visited India too.
Now Vietnam is growing rapidly. It is expected that by 2020 it will be in the category of developed nations. It has become the second largest exporter of rice in the world. The high and magnificent buildings I saw in Ho Chi Minh City are not visible in India. Tourism has become a great attraction of Vietnam. Indeed, for a country that fought for 20 years, it is a matter of great pride to rise like the phoenix.
Before I conclude
I was passing through Ho Chi Minh City. This city is second in the world as far as the number of two-wheelers is concerned. Suddenly I saw a bicycle being hit by a bike. In this situation we usually find bike rider fleeing, but he stopped there. Youngsters going to schools and colleges rushed to bicycle rider’s rescue. All of them lifted the bicycle rider and sent him to the hospital. I had also stopped. I started talking to the youngsters. They said it is their social responsibility to help the injured. While on way back, I was wondering when such healthy thinking would develop in our country.
We must learn nationalism from Israel
Vijay Darda : Last week I was in Israel. What an amazing country it is! I have seen many countries of the world and tried to understand them, but no other country has impressed me as much as Israel! From agriculture to country’s security and discipline to nationalism, there are many things that we can learn from Israel. It is a matter of great satisfaction that Israelis love us from the bottom of their heart. Israel has stayed with us in every difficult situation.
This time I am going to take you on journey of Israel through this column. There is no direct flight from India to Tel Aviv because the vast majority of the sky belongs to Israel’s enemy countries. They do not allow the plane going to Israel to fly over their territory. That’s why we boarded the plane of Air Turkey from India, which reaches Tel Aviv via Istanbul. As soon as I got off the flight, I got introduced to my fellow traveller Simon. He is a diamond merchant. Mumbai is the capital of diamond business, so he came here. I asked him why was he going to Israel? I was shocked to hear the answer! Simon’s answer was: “I’m going to kiss my soil. My entire family lives in America. When I will land in Israel, I will kiss my soil, I will meet my relatives and return.”
I started thinking whether Simon is really going to kiss Israel’s land? When I reached Tel Aviv, I was stunned. People were kissing their land after getting down from the plane. It turns out that whenever people go out of the country or come back, they kiss the land first.
Indeed, Israel has no competitor in terms of patriotism. Jewish people love their country intensely and this makes them one of the world’s formidable military powers. Measuring 400 kilometres in length and 100 kilometres wide, Israel is surrounded by enemies from all sides, but no one dares attack this country. Seven countries had tried together in 1967, but Israel not only taught them a lesson but also took control of Jerusalem. This whole country is equipped with anti-ballistic missile defense system. Even anti-missile guns are installed in passenger aircraft of their El Al Airlines. It has its own satellite system which it does not share with anyone. Thanks to this system, it has kept the whole country internally safe.
During my visit to different cities of Israel, I observed exceptional discipline among the people. One of the major reasons for this is the necessity of military service. After high school education, boys and girls have to serve in the army for two years. There is no other country in the world where military service is mandatory for girls. Exemption from military service is granted in just two cases: If the girl gets married or the boy or girl goes abroad for higher education. The amazing thing is that nobody even thinks about taking advantage of these two exemptions. I know a billionaire family there whose child had the option of going abroad for higher education, but he told the family clearly: I will complete the military course first, then will go anywhere! Such is the feeling among the people of Israel!
This country was born with Jewish values and it also follows them. Jews may live anywhere, be born anywhere but they get citizenship of Israel with their birth. They can come to Israel whenever they want. Interestingly, Christian and Muslim settlers still have the same rights as Jews. During my visit, I realised that there is no yawning gap between rich and poor. Charity is the amazing tradition there. According to Jewish religion, from Friday evening until Saturday night, Shabbat, the spiritual time, is observed. I also kindled a candle during Shabbat. The particular thing that I learnt was that all machines are usually closed during Shabbat. We did not even get hot coffee. During Shabbat, if a person has earned profit from business, he will donate the amount to charity.
Along with faith and honesty, their commitment to technical excellence has ensured that Israel is ahead in every field. Jewish people are making waves all over the world. They control businesses like arms, banking, agriculture, diamond, newspaper, TV, etc. The specialty of the Jews is that wherever they went they never hurt anyone. They live with love. They respond only when somebody hurts their self-esteem. When their players were killed in Munich, they killed each one of the killers by carrying out a campaign for 20-22 years. We should learn this bravery from them.
Before I conclude
Since I reached Israel on New Year’s eve, I was hoping that the New Year would be celebrated with great fanfare, like in other countries of the world. But I did not notice such celebrations. When I asked, Israeli people smiled saying that this is not our festival. Our new year is Rosh Hashanah, which was celebrated on September 21 in 2017 according to the Hebrew calendar, and in 2018 we will celebrate the New Year on September 10.