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How Were Gandhi and Ho Chi Minh Different in Their Fight for Independence?

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Mohandas Gandhi and Ho Chi Minh both fought against foreign rule in their country; Gandhi against the British rule in India and Ho Chi Minh against the French reign in Vietnam. However, Gandhi fought peacefully and religiously, with fasts and boycotts to gain India’s independence, while Ho Chi Minh was a Communist ruler who believed violence and a good military would force France out of Vietnam. The two men were both successful in driving the foreign rulers out of their country, even though their tactics were extremely different.

Gandhi grew up as a mediocre student, with an overly religious mother, an arranged marriage at thirteen, and a deceased father. When he left his wife and son to train to become a lawyer in London, he made a vow to be strictly vegetarian, which was a big step that led him in his peaceful religious life. In England, he learned about legal cases in which one fought not with violence, but with logical arguments pleading their rights. When he returned to India, Gandhi was an improved person, and was ready to fight for injustice in South Africa, where he fought for the rights of colored people. When he fought with India to stop a Registration Act in 1906, he devised a “truth-force,”(p 172) which was a new type of nonviolent resistance in which a large group of people all break a law which they feel is unjust, and then let the opponent beat them, so the opponent (or law enforcers) feel guilty. In 1914, when he returned to India from South Africa, he started an economic sit-down strike against the British government.

In 1919, he was forced to call off the act and plan a smaller one because it caused too much violence. After the Amritsar massacre, in which 379 civilians were killed by a British general (p.173), Gandhi started a new campaign, which boycotted all British goods and services, while Gandhi traveled the country for several months, urging other Indians to join the boycott. In 1929, Gandhi organized the Great Salt March, where he walked for twenty-four days to the sea(p.174), where he took the salty water and produced his own salt, protesting the taxes the British put on their own salt. Gandhi was put in jail for this, during which he fasted against the mistreatments of outcasts. In fear of Gandhi dying from the fast, Hindus started to treat the outcasts much better and started seeing them as human beings. This was the first of many fasts Gandhi went through in order to change people’s minds about unjust problems like Hindu-Muslim rivalry. Although Gandhi worked hard to unite the Hindus and Muslims, his actions were ignored. Hindus and Muslims still fought on the streets and behind Gandhi’s back. Even with these rivalries, Gandhi was still able to gain India’s independence from Britain, using fasting and strikes.

Ho Chi Minh lived with his irresponsible father when his mother died during childbirth. As a young man, he traveled on a French ship as part of a kitchen crew. He lived in London for several years working as a gardener, and then moved to France for six years, where he edited a newspaper for the French Socialist Party. He joined the French Communist Party and later traveled to Moscow, where he wrote articles for a communist paper and joined the Comintern, which was an agency that promoted revolutions in other countries. Then he traveled to Asia, working as a spokesperson for the Comintern.

At the end of World War Two, Minh started his own campaign to unite Vietnam and drive the French out. Using military force, the captured a French fortress, and the French, in order to save the fortress, agreed to divide the country so that Minh would be in charge of the north part and French would have the south. Minh was not satisfied. He asked President Truman of the United States to help them drive France out. Truman, who was against communism, did the opposite, and aided France in fighting against Minh. After almost thirty years of the anti-communist American military fighting Minh, the American government withdrew its troops from Vietnam in 1973(p.178). Two years later, Ho Chi Minh won his fight against the French and freed Vietnam.

Gandhi and Minh both were able to free their countries from foreign rule. Gandhi did this by peaceful lawbreaking, boycotts, protests, and fasts. Minh took a more violent route and drove France out by military force and aid from other communist countries. While the two leaders may seem drastically different in their perception of how to fight for what they believe in, they both had the same goal to unite their country, which they both succeeded in accomplishing.

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