Chapter 2: The Nationalist Movement in Indo – China

Facts that Matter

1.      Though Vietnam gained formal independence in 1945 before India, but it took three decades to attain the Republic.

2.      Indo-China comprises the modern countries of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

3.      The colonisation of Vietnam by the French brought the people of the country into conflict with the colonisers in almost every walk of life.

4.      The French not only established military and economic control over Vietnam but it also tried to reshape the culture of the Vietnamese.

5.      French troops came in Vietnam in 1858 and by the mid-1880s they established control over the northern region.

6.      After the Franco-Chinese war, Tonkin and Anaam came under the control of the French domination and in 1887 French Indo-China was formed.

7.      Slowly and steadily the Nationalist resistance developed in people of Vietnam.

8.      Exploring and mapping rivers was part of the colonial enterprise as the rivers were the only medium of trade and transport.

9.      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 European

countries to bring the benefits of civilisation to backward people.

10.  In order to expand their territories the French began building canals and draining lands in the Mekong delta to increase cultivation. The vast system of irrigation works—canals and earthworks—built with forced labour increased rice production and allowed the export of rice to the international market.

11.  The construction of Trans-Indo-China rail network to link the northern and southern parts of Vietnam was also started.

12.  The French also built the second line to link Vietnam to Siam (modern Thailand), via Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

13.  Paul Bernard, a writer and policy-maker, believed that the economy of the colonies needed to be developed. He believed that it would also help to improve the standard of living of the people which would ultimately prove to be advantageous for the coloniser.

14.  The colonial economy in Vietnam was primarily based on rice cultivation and rubber plantations and indentured Vietnamese labour was widely used in these plantations.

15.  French colonisation was also driven by the idea of a ‘civilising mission’. Like the British in India, the French also wanted to bring modern civilisation to the Vietnamese. The French wanted to destroy local cultures, religions and traditions as they believed they were outdated and prevented modern development. So they wanted to educate the ‘native’ to civilise them. This they also did because they required educated local labour force but they feared that education might create problems. Once educated the Vietnamese may begin to question colonial domination.

16.  The French were faced with yet another problem in the sphere of education. The elites in Vietnam were influenced by Chinese culture. To counter the Chinese influence the French established French schools for the Vietnamese.

17.  It was decided that Vietnamese be taught in lower classes and French in the higher classes.

18.  But only a few elite Vietnamese could enroll in the schools, and only a few could pass the school-leaving examination because French people deliberately failed the students mainly in the final year, so as to stop them from getting better-paid jobs. Two-thirds of the students failed and in 1925, out of 17 million population less than 400 passed the examination.

19.  School textbooks glorified the French and justified colonial rule and represented the Vietnamese as primitive and backward, capable of manual labour only. School children were taught that only French rule could ensure peace in Vietnam.

20.  The Tonkin Free School was started in 1907 to provide a western style education to the Vietnamese. Many Vietnamese teachers and students opposed it.

21.  A major protest exploded in 1926 in the Saigon Native Girls School, when a Vietnamese girl sitting in one of the front seats was asked to vacate the seat for a local French student and when she refused, she was expelled from the school. When the angry students protested, they too were expelled. This led to open protests. To control the situation the students were taken back.

22.  Elsewhere, students fought against the colonial government’s efforts to prevent the Vietnamese from qualifying for white-collar jobs. Schools thus became an important place for political and cultural battles. The battle against French colonial education became part of the larger battle against colonialism and for independence.

23.  Religion played an important role in uniting Vietnamese against colonial control. Vietnam’s religious beliefs were a mixture of Buddhism, Confucianism and local practices. The French missionaries introduced Christianity and tried to convert Vietnamese to Christianity.

24.  The Scholars Revolt started in 1868 against French control and the spread of Christianity. It was led by officials at the imperial court angered by the spread of Catholicism and French power. They led a general uprising in Ngu An and Ha Tien provinces where over a thousand Catholics were killed. Though the French successfully crushed the movement but this uprising inspired other patriots.

25.  Another movement, called the Hoa Hao Movement, was started in 1939 by Huynh Phu So in the fertile Mekong Delta area. Phu So opposed the sale of child brides, gambling and the use of alcohol and opium. However, this movement was suppressed.

26.  Phan Boi Chau (1867-1940) became a major figure in the anti-colonial resistance from the time he formed the Revolutionary Society (Duy Tan Hoi) in 1903, with Prince Cuong De as the head. His most influential book, The History of the Loss of Vietnam became bestseller in Vietnam and China.

27.  Phan Chu Trinh (1871-1926) differed with Phan Boi Chau. He opposed the idea of resisting the French with the help of the court. He wished to establish a democratic republic. He did not want a wholesale rejection of Western civilisation.

28.  In the first decade of the twentieth century ‘Go East Movement’ became popular. In 1907-08, some 300 Vietnamese students went to Japan to acquire modern education with intentions to throw out the French from Vietnam and the emperor to re-establish the Nguyen dynasty. Vietnamese students established a branch of the Restoration Society in Tokyo to attain the same objective but they were exiled and sent back to China and Thailand.

29.  Developments in China also inspired Vietnamese nationalists. In 1911, the monarchy in China was overthrown and a Republic was established. Inspired by it, Vietnamese students also organised the Association for the Restoration of Vietnam (Viet-Nam Quan Phuc Hoi), to set up a democratic republic.

30.  The Great Depression of the 1930s had a deep impact on Vietnam. Prices of rubber and rice fell, leading to rising rural debts, unemployment, and rural uprisings. But the uprisings were suppressed with great harshness by throwing bombs.

31.  In February 1930, Ho Chi Minh established the Vietnamese Communist (Vietnam Cong San Dang) Party later renamed the Indo-Chinese Communist Party but in 1940 when Japan occupied Vietnam to control Southeast Asia the problems of Vietnamese nationalists aggravated. Now they had to fight against the Japanese as well as the French.

32.  The League for the Independence of Vietnam (Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh), which came to be known as the Vietminh, fought the Japanese occupation and recaptured Hanoi in September 1945.

33.  The Democratic Republic of Vietnam was formed and Ho Chi Minh became its Chairman.

34.  The new republic faced a number of problems. The French tried to regain their control taking help of the emperor, Bao Dai, as their puppet. They became successful in forcing Vietminh to retreat to the hills.

35.  After eight years of fighting, the French were defeated in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu. The Supreme French Commander of the French armies, General Henry Navarre had declared confidently in 1953 that they would soon be victorious but it did not happen.

36.  In the peace negotiations in Geneva that followed the French defeat, the Vietnamese were persuaded to accept the division of the country. North and south were split. Ho Chi Minh and the communists took power in the north and Bao Dai’s regime was put in power in the south.

37.  The Bao Dai regime was soon overthrown by a coup led by Ngo Dinh Diem. Diem built a dictatorial government which was opposed by a broad opposition united under thebanner of the National Liberation Front (NLF). With the help of the Ho Chi Minh government in the north, the National Liberation Front (NLF) fought for the unification of the country.

38.  The US entry into the war adversely affected both the Vietnamese and the Americans.

39.  The widespread attacks and use of chemical weapons destroyed many villages and ruined jungles. Civilians died in large numbers in Vietnam.

40.  The effect of the war was felt within the US as well. The anger spread in the low working class youth, for giving their compulsory service in the armed forces.

41.  The story of Ho Chi Minh trail is all about how the Vietnamese used their limited resources to great advantage in their fight against the US. The trail, an immense network of footpaths and roads, was made to transport men and materials from the north to the south. Many support bases and hospitals were also made along the way to attend the people. Most of the trail was outside Vietnam in neighbouring Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam.

42.  The US regularly tried to stop this trail by bombing but failed as it was rebuilt very quickly.

43.  Vietnamese women played a significant role in this war. They worked as warriors and workers. They helped in nursing the wounded, constructing underground rooms and tunnels and fighting the enemy.

44.  This war was called the first television war as the battle scenes were shown on the daily news programmes. Many became disillusioned with what the US was doing and writers like Mary McCarthy and actors like Jane Fonda even visited North Vietnam and praised their heroic defence of the country.

Words that Matter

1.      Indentured labour: A form of labour widely used in the plantations from the mid nineteenth century. Labourers worked on the basis of contracts that did not specify any rights of the labourers, but gave immense power to the employers which they used in exploiting the poor labourers.

2.      Syncretic: Aims to bring together different beliefs and practices seeing their essential unity rather than their difference.

3.      Concentration camp: A camp where people were detained for torture and brutal treatment.

4.      Republic: A government based on popular consent and popular representation.

5.      Obscurantist: Person or ideas that mislead.

6.      Napalm: An organic compound used to thicken gasoline for firebombs.

7.      Ordinance 10: A French law that allowed Christianity but outlawed Buddhism.


1.      1802: Nguyen Anh became the emperor symbolising the unification of the country under the Nguyen Dynasty.

2.      1867: Cochinchina (the South) became a French colony.

3.      1887: The Indo-China Union was created including Cochinchina, Annam, Tonkin, Cambodia and later, Laos.

4.      1930: Ho Chi Minh formed the Vietnamese Communist Party.

5.      1945: Vietminh started a general popular insurrection. Bao Dai resigned. Ho Chi Minh declared independence in Hanoi (September 23).

6.      1954: The French army was defeated at Dien Bien Phu.

7.      1961: Kennedy decided to increase US military aid to South Vietnam.

8.      1974: Paris Peace Treaty.

9.      1975: (April 30) NLF troops entered Saigon.

10.  1976: The Socialist Republic of Vietnam was proclaimed.



1. When did the Cochinchina (the South) become a French colony?

(a) 1864                                                                                               (b) 1865

(c) 1867                                                                                               (d) 1866

2. When did Ho Chi Minh form the Vietnamese Communist Party?

(a) 1931                                                                                               (b) 1930

(c) 1932                                                                                               (d) 1934

3. Who was Paul Bernard?

(a) A writer and policy-maker                                                             (b) A philosopher

(c) A politician                                                                                    (d) A diplomat

4. When was the Tonkin Free School started?

(a) 1907                                                                                               (b) 1905

(c) 1908                                                                                               (d) 1906

5. Who were Indentured labours?

(a) Bonded labours

(b) Labours who were widely used for the plantations

(c) Labours who resided in particular place for more than 5 years

(d) None of the above

6. Who was given the name the ‘Mad Bonze’ by the French?

(a) Phan Boi Chau                                                                   (b) Nguyen Anh

(c) Huynh Phu So                                                                   (d) Kennedy

7. Who wrote the book ‘The History of the Loss of Vietnam’?

(a) Phan Boi Chau                                                                   (b) Phan Chu Trinh

(c) Huynh Phu So                                                                   (d) Bao Dai

8. Which one of the following countries is not associated with Indo-China?

(a) Thailand                                                                             (b) Vietnam

(c) Laos                                                                                   (d) Cambodia

9. The French colonial economy in Vietnam was primarily based on what?

(a) Rice cultivation                                                                  (b) Rubber plantation

(c) Both (a) and                                                                      (b) (d) None of the above

10. The Tonkin Free School was started in Vietnam in 1907. It provided

(a) Western-style education to Vietnamese                            (b) Basic education to Vietnamese

(c) Health education to Vietnamese                                       (d) Moral education to Vietnamese

11. Who overthrew the Bao Dai regime?

(a) Sun-Yat-Sen                                                                      (b) Nguyen Anh

(c) Phan Boi Chau                                                                   (d) Ngo Diem

12. The elites in Vietnam were influenced by which of the following cultures?

(a) Chinese culture                                                                  (b) French culture

(c) British culture                                                                    (d) Indian culture

13. What were the French citizens living in Vietnam called?

(a) Junkers                                                                               (b) Colons

(c) French                                                                                (d) Vietnamese

14. What happened in Hanoi in 1903?

(a) It was attacked by Vietnamese.                                        (b) It was defeated in a war.

(c) It was struck by bubonic plague.                                       (d) None of the above.

15. Who was the founder of Hoa Hao movement?

(a) Phan Boi Chau                                                                   (b) Ngo Nguyen Anh

(c) Huynh Pho So                                                                   (d) Bao Dai.

Ans. 1—(a) 2—(b) 3—(d) 4—(a) 5—(b) 6—(c) 7—(a) 8—(a) 9—(c) 10—(a) 11—(d) 12—(a) 13—(b) 14—(c) 15—(c)


1.      How was the maritime silk route useful for Vietnam?    (CBSE 2015)

2.      Name the modern countries which are parts of Indo-China.

3.      What was the idea of a ‘civilising mission’?

4.      What was the most visible form of French control over Vietnam?

5.      When did French troop land in Vietnam and when was French Indo-China formed?

6.      Paul Bernard suggested that there were several barriers to economic growth in Vietnam. Name them.

7.      What was the colonial economy in Vietnam based on?

8.      Why did the French consider the colonies to be essential?

9.      How did the employer exploit the indentured labourers?

10.  Give one reason why the French policy makers wanted to educate the people of Vietnam.

11.  The French policy makers saw education as one way to civilise the people of Vietnam. But, in order to educate them, they had to resolve a dilemma. What was the dilemma?

12.  What did the French do to counter the Chinese influence on The Vietnamese?

13.  How were the Vietnamese represented in the school textbooks?

14.  What happened in the Saigon Native Girls School in 1926?


What do you know about Saigon Native Girls School incident?

15.  What was the fear of Vietnamese intellectuals?

16.  Describe the French part of Hanoi.

17.  Phan Boi Chan’s The History of the Loss of Vietnam focused on two connected themes. What are they?

18.  What do you know about Vietnam’s religious beliefs?

19.  Where did the Hoa Hao movement become very popular?

20.  Name countries with which early Vietnamese nationalists had a close relationship.

21.  Who became the chairman of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam?

22.  Why did the United States of America intervene in the Vietnam War against the French?

23.  What status did women enjoy in the traditional society of Vietnam?

24.  How did the French try to strengthen their control over Vietnam?

25.  Which movement was started in Vietnam in 1868 against the spread of Christianity?


1.      Describe the major protest erupted in Saigon Native Girls School in 1926, in Vietnam. (CBSE 2015)

2.      What was the dilemma that the French had regarding imparting education to Vietnamese? (HOTS)

3.      What were the differences of opinions between the two groups in Vietnam regarding the introduction of French Education System?   (CBSE 2008)


Explain the two opinions on the question of the use of the French language as the medium of instruction in the French school established for the Vietnamese in Vietnam.   [CBSE 2010]


There were two broad opinions on the new education policy introduced by the French in Vietnam’. Discuss.    (CBSE 2011)

4.      Explain any three steps taken by the French to achieve their aim to exploit the natural resource of Vietnam. (AI CBSE 2009, CBSE 2011)

5.      Who was Paul Bernard? Why did he believe in developing the economy of the colonies?


Describe the views of Paul Bernard on the question of development of the colonies. Mention any three barriers which were a hurdle in improving the economies of Vietnam.    (CBSE 2011)

6.      What were the causes for the defeat of the French forces in the battle of Dien Bien Phu?


What strategies were formulated by Vietnamese to win over the French forces? What was its outcome?

7.      How were the Vietnamese represented in school textbooks?


How did school textbooks glorify the French and justify colonial rule in Vietnam?

8.      Give a brief description of the ‘Scholars’ Revolt’.

9.      Name the most influential book of Phan Boi Chan. Write about the two themes related to this book.   [CBSE 2010(F)]

10.  How did US entry into the war adversely affect both the Vietnamese and the Americans? (HOTS)

11.  What was ‘Go East Movement’? Write a brief note on it.


Explain the reasons for the popularity of ‘Go East Movement’.                    (CBSE 2008, 2011)

12.  How did 1903 plague in Hanoi arouse the nationalist feelings among the Vietnamese? (HOTS)

13.  What were the three steps taken by the French to solve the problem of plague in Vietnam?

14.  The Great Depression of the 1930s had a profound impact on Vietnam. Explain.


What was the impact of the Great Depression of 1930s on Vietnam?  (CBSE 2011)

15.  Why was conflict started in Vietnam against French colonisers in all areas of life? Explain.  

(CBSE 2010)

16.  Why do some historians consider the war in Vietnam more brutal than the Second World War? (HOTS).

17.  What is Ho Chi Minh trail? Describe any three points of its importance. [CBSE 2008(C), 2011].

18.  Describe any three steps taken by the French to develop agriculture in Vietnam. [AI CBSE 2012, 2013].


Explain any three steps taken by the French to develop cultivation in the Mekong Delta. [CBSE 2012, AI CBSE 2013].

19.  What was the main motive of the French to develop the infrastructural projects in Vietnam? Explain how far did they succeed in their mission? (CBSE 2010, 2011)

20.  What is the Ho Chi Minh trail? Describe any three points of its importance. [CBSE 2008(C), 2011]

21.  Why did the French policy makers want to educate the people of Vietnam? Explain. (CBSE 2009, 2011).

22.  State the contribution of Ho Chi Minh in the freedom of Vietnam. (CBSE 2012, 2013)

23.  Describe infrastructural projects which were developed by the French in Vietnam. (AI CBSE 2012)

24.  State any three steps that were take by the Token Free School to westernise the Vietnamese. [AI CBSE 2013(C)]


1.      Describe the major problems in the field of education for the French in Vietnam. (CBSE 2015)

2.      What was the ‘civilising mission’ of the French? What were their actual intentions behind educating the Vietnamese? How did it lead to the rise of the nationalist feelings amongst the Vietnamese? (HOTS)

3.      Explain any four challenges faced by the ‘New Republic of Vietnam’. [CBSE 2008, AI CBSE 2009, 2012]

4.      “The division of Vietnam set in motion a series of events that turned the country into a battlefield.” Support the statement. (AI CBSE 2012)

5.      Discuss the contribution of Ho Chi Minh in Vietnamese nationalist struggle. (HOTS).

6.      Give any four features of the Ho Chi Minh trail in the Vietnamese war against the U.S. (CBSE 2008)

7.      Why was a new education policy introduced by the French in Vietnam? What were the limitations or drawbacks of the new education policy introduced by the French in Vietnam?       (CBSE 2011)

8.      Give an account of Huynh Phu So’s role in arousing the anti-imperialist feelings among the Vietnamese.

9.      Who was Phan Chu Trinh? How did he help in the modernisation of Vietnam? (CBSE 2011)

10.  Explain any four ideas of Phan Chu Trinh.   (CBSE 2011,2012,2013)

11.  Explain the causes of the US involvement in the war in Vietnam. What effect did this involvement have on life within the US itself? (CBSE 2011).

12.  Explain the steps taken by the French in the field of education in Vietnam. What was their motive behind this?

13.  Analyse the role of women in the Vietnamese struggle for independence. [AI CBSE 2013(C)]



1.      What changes were introduced in the traditional system of education in Vietnam by the French colonisers?

2.      Why were the French citizens living in Vietnam opposed to educational reforms in Vietnam?

3.      How did the French seek to strengthen their rule through the control of education?

4.      Give an example to show that racial discrimination was practised even in the area of health and hygiene.

5.      Why were the French forced to start the bounty programme to kill rats?

6.      How did the French suppress the movement inspired by Huynh Phu So?

7.      Briefly describe the events from 1930 to 1945 that led to the creation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

8.      Discuss the position of women in Vietnam with special reference to their role in the struggle for country’s freedom.