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Farewell Geetesh Sharma a great friend of Vietnam

On the evening of May 2, Geetesh Sharma - who created a strong diplomatic bridge between India and Vietnam, passed away at Vishudhanand Hospital in Kolkata, capital of the state of West Bengal, India after a week of fighting COVID-19.

Farewell Geetesh Sharma a great friend of Vietnam

Then Vietnamese Ambassador Ton Sinh Thanh presents 'Order of Friendship' to President of the India-Vietnam Solidarity Committee in West Bengal State Geetesh Sharma in 2015. Photo:VNA

Born in 1932, Sharma is a veteran journalist, editor of many different newspapers in India, the author of 23 books in Hindi and English, of which many were about Vietnam. His books are translated into Bengali, Swedish and Vietnamese.

From 1945-1975, in his hometown in Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal State, Sharma launched various movements to show solidarity with Vietnamese people.

As the Chairman of the India-Vietnam Solidarity Committee of West Bengal state, he has attached a part of his life to the movements fighting for peace and democracy for the Vietnamese people during the war time; always spinning with the desire to connect the two countries in many fields. He had travelled to Vietnam 29 times since the 1980s, on many different occasions, visiting many localities from the North to the South.

In December 2005, Sharma was awarded by the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations (VUFO) the medal "For peace and friendship between peoples" on the occasion of launching research project "India-Vietnam Relations: First to Twentyfirst Century" in Ho Chi Minh City.

He also was conferred Vietnam’s Order of Friendship – the noble award of the State and the Government of Vietnam – in 2015, in recognition of his significant contributions to fostering the two people’s solidarity and friendship.

Geetesh Sharma (third, from left) leads a delegation of the India-Vietnam Solidarity Committee of West Bengal state to visit and work at the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations in 2017. Photo: VNT

He was very active in the India-Vietnam Solidarity Committee in West Bengal State since the early 1970’s and participated in demonstrations to express solidarity with the people of Vietnam in their fight against foreign invaders to liberate the country.

According to Sharma, the research collections on the relationship between Vietnam - India is a work that he dedicated his heart to. Many times he came to Vietnam using his own money to collect materials to complete the 116-page book, not history textbooks but rather a collection of living materials that two countries' youths can read and understand about the long and close relationship between Vietnam and India.

The book contains some interesting stories such as late President Ho Chi Minh walking to the office of the Communist Party of India in Kolkata without notice and the meeting between Uncle Ho and Indian writer Amrita Pritam.

The book also has a number of separate chapters on the wholehearted solidarity for liberation of the Vietnamese people, why Indian people shed blood to protest against the immortality of the Vietnam war, etc. and detailing the graduation ceremony of General Vo Nguyen Giap at the Calcutta University. All are fully gathered, vividly expressed, rich in images and colors like the legendary epics of India and Vietnamese folklore.

In an article on the occasion of the Vietnamese late leader’s 125th birth anniversary (May 19, 1890-2015), Sharma recounted that Ho Chi Minh visited Kolkata thrice; in 1911, 1946 and the final visit in February 1958. His official visit as the President of Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1958 left an everlasting impression over the people of India. He won the hearts of one and all by his affability, cordiality, humility and austerity. The generation that had seen him during those days still remembered him with great love, admiration and reverence.

Sharma's passing has left behind a deep regret in the heart of Vietnamese friends./.

Hannah Nguyen

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