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By Harshmeet Singh
This April 30 would mark the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon (South Vietnam’s erstwhile capital), which led to the conclusion of Vietnam War. Lasting two decades, the Vietnam War was fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. While North Vietnam was backed by China, Soviet Union and other communist allies, South Vietnam was aided by the powerful USA and its allies.
North Vietnam majorly depended on the guerrilla war tactics as it trained the National Liberation Front (NLF) to fight against the US and its anti-communist allies. South Vietnam, on the other hand, relied on major air attacks and heavy firepower of the USA to uproot its enemy.
The US was ready to pull out all stops to check the spread of communism and avert the communist powers from taking over South Vietnam. While North Vietnam forces wanted to unify the two countries and establish communist rule over a unified Vietnam, the USA’s actions were based on its domino theory, according to which, if one country takes the communist path, the other nations in the region would soon follow suit.
Role of the US
By the time North Vietnam captured Saigon in 1975 and the war ended, the loss of life was unparalleled. The war casualties were numbered close to a staggering 3 million.
USA’s biggest involvement in the war was its air strikes over North Vietnam. The US army sprayed more than 20 million gallons of ‘Agent Orange’ over the agricultural land in South Vietnam and some parts of Laos and Cambodia. Codenamed ‘Operation Ranch Hand’, this move was aimed at exposing the guerrillas hidden in forest land and depriving them of cover and food. This also led to the peasants vacating their lands, thus eroding the support base of guerrilla fighters.
Exposure to Agent Orange led to horrendous after effects. According to the data furnished by the Vietnam Government, over 3 million people have suffered disabilities and illness due to this exposure. Even after 40 years since the conclusion of war, a number of birth and respiratory defects are still found among the people living in the affected areas of Vietnam and the US war veterans who served in these areas. Contaminated soil in the region has led to poisonous food which has given rise to health problems such as skin cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer. The chemicals from Agent Orange have entered the food chains in the region through the animals that feed over the affected area.
John Kerry, the present US Secretary of State and a fierce opponent of Vietnam War, served in the Vietnam War as an officer in charge. In 1971, he testified before the senate, saying –
“They told the stories of times that they had personally raped, cut off the ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.”
The impact of a war long outlives the actual war. Children born without eyes, new born babies with twisted bodies and disabled adults are usual sights in the area where the deadly Agent Orange was sprayed. The victims now run in third generations. Albeit the war is long over, even today, the parents keep their fingers crossed while a new born is checked by the doctors for any signs of disability.
US war veterans also affected
The US war veterans, who served in the affected areas of Vietnam, have incurred deadly diseases such as skin cancer, leukaemia and throat cancer at exceptionally higher rates than the average US citizens. The worse impacted ones were the personnel who were involved in loading the planes with Agent Orange and storing the chemical on the ground.
Astonishingly, according to many war veterans, while they were using this chemical in Vietnam, they were told that it is harmless. By 1993, over 39,000 war veterans in the US had filed for disability claims with the ‘Department of Veteran Affairs’, citing their exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Of them, only 486 victims were compensated.
Over the past decade or so, various consultations have taken place between the US and Vietnam, regarding the ill effects of Agent Orange and USA’s accountability. Although the US has agreed, more than once, to transfer technical and financial assistance to Vietnam to clean up the remaining bits of Orange Agent, the process is taking far too long to save the present generation from the chemical’s implications.
The Vietnam War possibly represents one of the biggest foreign affairs miscalculations on the part of the US. This also gave birth to the phrase ‘Vietnam Syndrome’ in the US, which depicts the government’s and public’s reluctance to enter any conflict, post the Vietnam War. Despite USA’s best efforts to stop the spread of communism in the region, Vietnam today stands as a unified, communist country. Amongst the effects of war on the US were huge federal budget deficit, over 58,000 dead soldiers and some important lessons on future military interventions. But considering the number of conflicts the US has been a part of since then, the lessons don’t seem to be taken well enough.
The Olympic Flame that will be burning for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games was ignited on Monday at the birthplace of the Games in Ancient Olympia, Greece. During the traditional ceremony, actress Xanthi Georgiou in the role of an ancient Greek High Priestess used a concave mirror to focus the sun's rays and light a torch before the 2,500-year-old Temple of Hera, a goddess in ancient Greek mythology.
At the end of the ceremony, the High Priestess handed over the flame to the first torchbearer, Greek skier Ioannis Antoniou, inside the stadium which hosted the first Games centuries ago. A total of three torchbearers will relay the torch in Ancient Olympia. Former Chinese short track speed skating athlete Li Jiajun was the second runner, reports Xinhua.
Following a short symbolic torch relay, the flame will be transferred to Athens to be passed over on Tuesday to the organizers of Beijing 2022. The XXIV Winter Olympics will take place from February 4 to 20, 2022, followed by the Paralympics Winter Games. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: ancient, olympics,torchbearers,chinese,beijing,olympia,ceremony,winter
At the recently held Lake Fashion Week X Fashion Design Council of India event which took place in Mumbai, actress Soha Ali Khan was muse for Megha Jain Madaan. The festive collection by Madaan for her label Abstract was a luxurious line of creations. Khan dazzled in a sensational, black, will-powered gown with horizontal gold braiding, while the deep olive train added a regal touch. IANSlife caught up with the celebrity on the sideline of the events to discover her take on fashion.
Q: Are you looking forward to on-ground fashion events and the energy that comes with physical shows and appearances?
A: I am I mean, I think that it's been a while that we've all been at home and the livelihood of artisans, designers make-up artist, hairdressers has suffered. Everyone's looking forward to being backed and last but not least me; there's a different energy, of course.
Q: The outfit chosen for you at the show, how does it complement your style?
A: I really think that the outfit complimented my body type because it sort of showed off my arms which are very toned and strong. I've been working on them. So I'm happy that they chose, an off-shoulder outfit. The beautiful train, added length which I require a little bit off. So, I think it was very feminine, and I think the silhouette was a good one for me.
Q: What are your travel essentials?
A: Wetwipes, sanitiser, spare masks and water. I would say a book but I haven't read a book since I've become a mother. I would say iPad, cotton wool for ears, and a lollipop.
"One should reuse their clothes. You don't need to buy new clothes, all the time." said Soha Ali Khan. | Photo by Edward Howell on Unsplash
Q: A book, a movie, the gym, or a night out. What is your perfect way to unwind?
A: If you really work out some point in the day, it just helps you to wind down. So I really believe in physical exercise. Well, I love massages and I really enjoy good conversations with good friends.
Q: How do you support sustainable fashion?
A: One should reuse their clothes. You don't need to buy new clothes, all the time. We share clothes, among friends with similar body types, all the time, whether it's children's clothes as well as my clothes. Recycle, you know, if a pair of jeans have started to fray, cut them into shorts, you can also T-Shirts in a number of different ways. So you can recycle, use materials that are good for the planet, don't use plastic and things like this.
Q: What is an experience in your life that you're waiting to have?
A: A goodnight sleep will be great.
(Aryciel originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: feminine,travel,essentials,recycle,clothes,fashion, soha ali khan, bollywood
OṀ SAMPŨRṆABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM) - POOR-ṆA-MA-DA-HA-BHOO-MYAI—NA-MA-HA
ॐ संपूर्णभूम्यै नमः
(Sampūrṇam: Infinite, full, endless)
In Īśa or Īśhavāsyopanishad which belongs to Yajurveda saṃhita, the glory of the divine cosmic soul and the knowledge of the Supreme Self are deliberated. This is also referred to as the Jnāna Kānda. The book starts with an invocation, recited as Mangaḷacharan (the auspicious inception) to sing the glory of the Supreme God 'Oṁ pūrṇamadaha pūrṇamidam, pūrnāt pūrnamudaschyate; pūrṇasya pūrnamādāya pūrṇamevāvashishyate', -meaning that 'Parabrahman' (Supreme divine cosmic soul) is embellished with all qualities tangible and intangible. It is through this Parabrahman that this universe evolved. Because this universe has evolved from the One, the universe is devoid of beginning and is infinite.
This total or complete One, is so significant that even if one literally decides to deduct or remove the cosmos and universe from that complete or total energy, it shall remain constant, i.e., total. Even if this universe does not remain, the divine cosmic energy is devoid of beginning and is infinite. The knowledgeable person that sees God in all creatures and sees all creatures in God becomes happy and experiences incessantly the beauty of God. If we realize God, we get liberated from all the miseries and attachments that continually plague us.
The Vedas are the holy commandments of the gods for mankind. The entire universe or cosmos is pervaded by He who is all pervasive, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and unchanging. Even the gods and sages have not realized Him in reality. The energy the gods possess is just one fragment of the divine cosmic energy. They cannot do anything without divine inspiration and intervention. He is the source of all the contradictory features and natures. Even if He is devoid of birth, He takes birth, even being formless, assumes form; even being devoid of characteristics, assume the nature. He is very far from us, yet, very close to us. The entire world is embellished with this cosmic energy inside out. The person that performs all his duties according to the scriptures and their directives indirectly in reality worships God. Those who work selflessly are not caught in the bondage of actions or karma. There is no way that one can escape the chains of karma.
He, who is always absorbed in the divine cosmic energy, attains the blissful state. He gradually loses the self and merges into the divine cosmic energy.
The land and its Vedic scriptures which taught us about the total cosmic energy is 'Sampūrṇa Bhūmi'.
Keywords: Vedas, Endless, Infinite, Complete