Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh are the two most well-known and popular names among the people of India, President of the India-Vietnam Solidarity Committee in West Bengal Geetesh Sharma wrote in an article on the occasion of the Vietnamese late leader’s 125th birth anniversary (May 19, 1890-2015).

He recalled that Ho Chi Minh had been the focal point among the intellectuals and political activists since the latter half of the last century, particularly between fifties and seventies. “This was the period when too much was written in the various Indian languages about Ho Chi Minh, particularly in West Bengal where numerous poems and essays eulogizing Ho Chi Minh were written; Ho Chi Minh’s Works and his Prison Diary was translated into most of the major languages of India and were highly appreciated by the readers.”

Sharma went on to say that there would hardly be a person, who would be unaware of the great legendary leader of Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh or who would be unaware of the indomitable spirit and patriotism displayed by the people of Vietnam in liberating their nation from the then great powers like France, Japan and the US who were forced not only to taste defeat at the hands of the Vietnamese but who were driven out of Vietnam by its people displaying exemplary and historic unity and military strategy.

“Obviously, such a great accomplishment could not have been achieved without the inspiring leadership and personality of Ho Chi Minh and his decisive people oriented policies and strategies. Under the most able leadership of Ho Chi Minh, the people of Vietnam not only liberated their country from the clutches of colonial, fascist and imperialist powers but at the same time demolished the age-old feudal structure and emancipated the people from the feudal system prevailing in the society and its concept in a shortest period, unparallel in the history,” the activist argued.

He underlined that the people had always been the focal point of Ho Chi Minh’s thought process and his concern for the people was not confined in the geographical boundaries of Vietnam. “His goal was not only to liberate his country from the foreign rule but deep down his thoughts besides aiming at independence he dreamt of providing social equality, justice and welfare to his people. It is for this reason that besides his serious and sincere struggle against the foreign aggressors he was equally serious and sincere in his campaign and struggle against feudalist social structure as elimination of both was essential to free the people from bondage and exploitation,” Sharma wrote.

“It was the charismatic leadership of Ho Chi Minh that had its magical influence over the people of Vietnam, who were ready for any sacrifice with this hope and belief that after liberation everybody would be able to share the fruits of independence. The fact remains that after liberation the aspirations of the Vietnamese people were never belied. The biggest achievement in this process was that importance of labour was not only recognised but earned a place of distinction in the society and the feudal structure was completely uprooted.”

He described Ho Chi Minh as a symbol of austerity and simplicity and his simplicity was not to make a show off and attract people.

“Even after becoming the President of Vietnam he maintained his austere life style. Despite there being a President’s House in Hanoi, the official residence of the President, he chose to live in a hutment of the complex of the Presidential house until his death. He used the Presidential house only for official meetings or dinners with foreign dignitaries. He used to wear sandals made of old car tyres. His sandals became the trade mark of his austerity and the communist leaders, cadres, intellectuals and activists of West Bengal in particular having derived inspiration from Ho Chi Minh started wearing sandals made of old tyres,” Sharma recalled.

He also noted that Ho Chi Minh was a true and great friend of India. He considered Indo-Vietnam friendly ties to be most important and significant and received equally important and significant response from India.

Sharma recounted that Ho Chi Minh visited Kolkata thrice, in 1911, 1946 and the final visit in February 1958. His official visit as the President of Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1958 left an everlasting impression over the people of India. He literally won the hearts of one and all by his affability, cordiality, humility and austerity. The generation that had seen him during those days still remembered him with great love, admiration and reverence.

He stressed that it was President Ho Chi Minh and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who had laid the solid foundation of deep friendly relations between India and Vietnam which continue till date without any deviation. He added that both the great statesmen developed emotional bonds with each other during their meetings and exchange of ideas and this fraternal mutual relation continued till their last breath.-VNA