May 1, Forty Years Ago

A look at the front page of Indian Express on May 1, published forty years ago.

Published:May 1, 2015 12:00 am
Indian express A look at the front page of Indian Express on May 1, published forty years ago.

Vietnam War ends

Saigon fell on April 30 and the Vietnam War ended. The National Liberation Front captured the city four hours after a US helicopter evacuated the last of a dozen Americans who were waiting on the roof of the US consulate. Saigon surrendered unconditionally, ending 120 years of foreign occupation. “One street scene perhaps epitomised Saigon’s abject fall today — a tank of the National Liberation Front smashed through the main gates of the presidential palace disregarding the attempts of an unarmed South Vietnamese soldier trying to open them first. Minutes later, the flag of the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) — red and white with a gold star — was waving from the palace,” a report said. Reuters’s Saigon correspondent writes, the first NLF troops to enter the city centre were a Jeep load of barefoot, teenage guerrillas, followed by regular soldiers clad in jungle fatigues and carrying assault rifles and rocket launchers.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told the media that the US hoped to crystallise a new Asia policy in the wake of the fall of Saigon.

Outdated ideas

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi congratulated the PRG on its victory and added that “the failure of the US policy” was “due to its propping up unrepresentative governments”. The report adds that “in a veiled criticism of the foreign policy attitudes associated with Dr Henry Kissinger, Indira Gandhi said that the balance of power model certainly did not provide an answer. The idea that four or five or six great powers interacting among themselves could preserve peace in the world was an extension of the ideas developed in Europe in the 19th century. The world has become extremely complex.”

A butterfly is born

In Abu Abraham’s cartoon, Vietnam, depicted as a butterfly, emerges out of its cocoon on an olive branch.

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