152. Letter From the Ambassador to India (Bowles) to the Deputy Director of the United States Information Agency (Wilson)1

Dear Don:

As you doubtless know, I am planning to leave Delhi November 10 for a brief period of discussions in Washington. I certainly hope to see Ed Murrow, but in view of his state of convalescence, I doubt if I should bother him about too many business questions. I should like to see you, if you plan to be in Washington, and take up the following matters.

1. Book Programs.

USIS has been giving a high priority to the effort to bring out low-priced editions of American books in English and in translation. Two years ago the effort cost $300,000 in rupees; last year it was about $650,000, and it will reach the level of about $1,300,000 in this fiscal year. That will mean about 3,000,000 volumes. I think this effort is a very worthwhile undertaking and that the program should even increase. Without staff adjustments, I understand that it easily could reach the level of $2,000,000 in cost within the next few years. I know the problems [Page 415] of budget ceilings, and this amount would represent a huge chunk of the USIS budget. The question I think we should examine is whether there could be additional sources of rupee funds to enlarge our successful book programs. For example, for the relatively large textbook effort, should we seek funds in the AID budget although leaving the operation of the program under USIS? Would it be advisable to seek a special appropriation in Luke Battle’s budget? Should we ask for appropriations for a book publishing foundation in India? I should hope to get your views and advice in this field.

2. Buildings.

I am a strong advocate of using our accumulation of PL–480 rupees for worthwhile purposes before the value deteriorates too much. In India all of our USIS centers are in leased buildings, and the fixed costs of the USIS operations are rising with the inflation. One of the wise uses for PL–480 rupee funds would be a reasonable purchase and construction program for USIS in the various cities in which it operates. I understand that in 1962 the Mission proposed a comprehensive undertaking which would cost about $9,000,000, mainly in rupees. This would include the provision of government-owned housing for at least a small percentage of the USIS officers. I should hope that the Agency would support a rational building program in the State Department’s FBO budget before the Congress.

3. English Teaching.

In communicating with many of the most knowledgeable Indians, we have inherited a very great advantage in the English language. It would be difficult to imagine what the Russians or the Chinese would give for such an opportunity. However, despite Indian official concern about the problem, the quality of English is deteriorating in India. I believe that we, the British and others concerned should work out ways with the Government of India to assist in the training of English teachers throughout the country. Such an effort in the long range will serve well our foreign policy objectives. I am not suggesting that this should necessarily be a USIS undertaking. In answer to a letter from Luke Battle, I have proposed that we work out a plan for cooperation with the British, the Ford Foundation (which is interested) and others who might be concerned to promote the Indian Government’s efforts in this field. This could be achieved, if we could get the appropriation, through PL–480 rupee grants. My purpose in bringing the subject up is to seek USIA support for the idea.

4. Binational Library Foundation.

Some time ago a proposal was made for the creation of a binational library foundation in India using some of our rupee funds for the [Page 416] promotion of libraries in the manner of Carnegie2 at another period in the United States. I do not suggest that this should be a USIA undertaking, but since it affects the long-range effort in propaganda in the purest sense, I should like to get your views. It is our thought that such a foundation could promote the building of libraries, the provision of trained librarians, and the installation of original book collections. Over a period of years, I suspect we could wisely spend a few million of our accumulated rupees in an undertaking of this kind. I realize that this also would take a special appropriation, and I believe that both the Department and USIA should have an interest in it.

I should like to discuss with you USIS in general, but I have mentioned the foregoing points to let you know in advance some of the matters on my mind. I shall look forward very much to seeing you.


Chester Bowles 3
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, DIRCTR Sub Files, 1963–69, Bx 6–29 63–69: Acc: #72A5121, Entry UD WW 257, Box 9, Field—Near East (IAN) 1963. Limited Official Use; Official–Informal. A copy of the letter was sent to Robert Lincoln. In the upper right-hand corner of the letter and written in an unknown hand is the notation: “11/6/63.” Below this, Wilson wrote: “Bill—Bob Lincoln got a copy of this—Pls get me his written comments (or verbal, if he prefers, in time for our meeting. DMW.”
  2. The 19th century U.S. industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who funded the establishment of public libraries throughout the United States.
  3. Bowles signed “Chet Bowles” above his typed signature.