How does the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence justify its claim of a Vietnamese right to independence? Why do you think European powers did not recognize this claim? According to Nehru, why is India pursuing a policy of non-alignment rather than an alliance with the West? What evidence in this document suggests that Nehru has borrowed elements from communism as well as from liberal democracy?
The Vietnamese Declaration of Independence, issued on September 2, 1945, was a statement by the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, led by Ho Chi Minh. The Declaration justified its claim of a Vietnamese right to independence on several grounds. Firstly, it argued that the Vietnamese people had been subjected to foreign domination for centuries, first by China and then by France. Secondly, it asserted that the Vietnamese had resisted this domination through various means, including armed struggle, and had established their own state, albeit briefly, in 1945. Finally, it contended that the Vietnamese had been inspired by the principles of the Atlantic Charter, which had been issued by the Allies in 1941 and affirmed the right of all peoples to self-determination.
Despite these arguments, the European powers, particularly France, did not recognize Vietnam’s claim to independence. They saw Vietnam as a colony to be exploited for economic gain and as a strategic foothold in Southeast Asia. The European powers also viewed Vietnam’s independence movement as a threat to their own imperial interests in the region. As a result, they took measures to suppress Vietnam’s independence struggle, including military intervention and economic sanctions.
Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, outlined his country’s policy of non-alignment in a speech to the Indian Constituent Assembly in August 1947. Nehru argued that India should pursue a foreign policy that was independent of the major power blocs of the time, namely the Western powers and the Soviet Union. He believed that India’s interests lay in maintaining good relations with all nations, rather than aligning itself with one or the other.
Nehru’s policy of non-alignment reflected his belief in the importance of sovereignty and independence for developing nations. He saw non-alignment as a way to resist the pressures and interventions of the major powers and to assert India’s own interests on the international stage. Nehru was also influenced by the principles of socialism and democracy, which he saw as compatible with India’s traditions and values.
Evidence in Nehru’s speech suggests that he drew on elements of communism as well as liberal democracy. He spoke of the need to establish a planned economy and to eliminate poverty and inequality, which were central tenets of communist ideology. At the same time, he emphasized the importance of individual freedom and democracy, stating that “political democracy and economic planning are not mutually exclusive”. Nehru’s policy of non-alignment thus reflected a synthesis of different political and ideological influences, reflecting India’s complex history and identity.