“Forgive yes, but why Forget colonialism my fellow Indians?”

31st July 2020

31st July 2020

Indians, especially those who are from the regional religions, are fast to forgive and forget the worst of deprivations and attacks visited on them. With the possible exception of the Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and the Indigenous Australians. All of whom, possibly, owe their pasts to the Indic sub-Continent and its culture. And all of whom have, lately, revived their past to resolve the crimes visited on them by invaders and colonisers.

But first, a brief digression, have you seen this recent article about the zero COVID19 victim in Vietnam, longest border with China and just about 40 years after a totally destructive aggression against the fuss around COVID19 in India now?

“The oldest artifacts of a distinctly Cham civilization—brick flooring, sandstone pillars and pottery found at Tra Kieu in Quang Nam Province—date to the second century A.D,” a 2014 report in the National Geographic said. Internationally renowned and award-winning marine archaeologist Robert Stenuit claimed that residents of the Cham civilisation were great sailors and builders. He added that the Cham society also most likely practiced Shaivite Hinduism."

And do go through this piece: "My Son Sanctuary in Vietnam is a designated UNESCO world heritage centre and a home to a cluster of Hindu temples built over 10 centuries. The temples there are dedicated to Lord Shiva, known under various local names, the most important of which is Bhadreshvara."

Many Indians with an interest in matters American know about My Lai. Very few Indians know about My Son. How far apart are My Lai and My Son?

I went to Vietnam in the mid '70s after what the Vietnamese refer to as the American aggression and what the Americans refer to as Vietnamese pacification. The American pacification, usually by way of carpet bombing and massacres, was the reward the Vietnamese received for helping the Allies defeat Japan, and when they asked for the departure of the French Colonials, they received instead the American colonials. The colonials, regardless of country of origin, wanted rubber. GoodYear and Firestone replaced Michelin, and I went on a ship with a full load of wheat, which they politely declined because it originated from Umrika, and I learnt a solid lesson from the Vietnamese people - forgive, maybe, but never forget.

They didn't trust the wheat because it was reddish-orange in colour. 

Why did the Americans want to displace the French from Vietnam? Because they wanted rubber. Or they didn't want others to have rubber. A lot of it. And so they bombed Vietnam with Agent Orange. a herbicide and defoliant chemical, which is also why till today the Vietnamese know how to deal with chemical warfare including of the virus and pandemic sort, better than any other country.

This is a quote from another piece which is worth a look.

"“We supposedly valued human life while our enemy did not. Yet we paid the owners of the Michelin plantations $600 for each rubber tree we damaged, while the family of a slain Vietnamese child got no more than $120 in payout for a life.”

The Vietnamese persona never forgets. I know a good number of people from Vietnam, globally - the truth of their colonial history is something every child learns to not forget. Nor will they forget the risks of chemical warfare. And in a very gentle but firm manner, they remind every visitor too - please see a movie called "da 5 Bloods" to get a grip on what it means to be a free country after centuries of colonial slavery.

Americans and French tourists and descendants weep in shame when they visit Vietnam, and are shown the slave railways. British tourists to India are greeted as honoured guests and thanked for the Indian Railways – railway which were built to steal Indian produce faster and with more efficiency.

(The most critical scenes in the movie are shot at My Son temples)

Which brings me back to Indians and their ability to not just forgive cheaply for beads and baubles but also to rapidly forget.

How and why does that happen, is it a fault of our slavery genes? I doubt it - the Vietnamese have pretty much the same gene pool and history.

I think it happens because we never really got rid of our colonial hang-ups. The people who took charge after 1947 never let us forget that we would always be slaves. And because we mix up forgiveness with forgetting.

I recall going around India with a Vietnamese friend, an American citizen no doubt, and he was amazed at the way India still glorifies its colonial enslavers. A trip to Victoria Memorial and environs, in Kolkata, for example, left him alternately fuming and crying.

As Indians, we need a national people's movement to NEVER  FORGET.

Veeresh Malik was a seafarer. And a lot more besides. A decade in facial biometrics, which took him into the world of finance, gaming, preventive defence and money laundering before the subliminal mind management technology blew his brains out. His romance with the media endures since 1994, duly responded by Outlook, among others.

A survivor of two brain-strokes, triggered by a ship explosion in the 70s, Veeresh moved beyond fear decades ago.

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