845.24/55: Telegram

The Personal Representative of the President in India ( Johnson ) to the Secretary of State

224. To the President and the Secretary. For 2 weeks have been having conferences with leading industrialists in India and representatives of the Government. Fully convinced India war production can be increased 2½ times provided war production board can be established here. Indian Civil Service absolutely dead and supply member of Executive Council does not favor any change from present peace time production. General Hu, Ordnance Chief of Production, China, is now here desiring to place orders in India for millions of dollars of supplies for China, which would serve to build up Indian industrial production and tremendously aid China defense. Indian Civil Service not interested in accepting these orders.

Am sending Herrington and Griffith67 to Chungking with Shaughnessy of China Supply Corporation and General Hu’s aide to verify on the ground the contribution General Hu says can be made by Indian industry. This group will return to Delhi next Thursday. We should be in a position to place China’s orders if you can persuade London to order Government of India to cooperate, accept and expedite. There will be no increased war production in India unless a war production board fashioned after the American board is established here with its personnel fairly representing the industrialists (who are now in America’s corner and are strongest personal supporters), English industrialists, and without domination by Indian Civil Service or His Majesty’s Government here.

I suggest and urge without delay you secure direction from England to the Government of India that a production board of this type be set up with an Indian chairman subject to the general direction of either the Pacific War Council or the British Supply Director in England. If power of veto is left in India, production will remain static. Those charged with the responsibility in the Indian Government and the Indian Civil Service lack imagination and are dominated by the 10 or 12 companies in England which dominate Indian Government. Only direction from England can accomplish this purpose. If you will get this directive from England then, as a result of conferences just concluded here between Indian Chamber of Commerce representatives and the leading industrialists of Indian corporations, ship space can be saved and a grand job can be done for China and for India.

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I think it vital because of distrust of English here that the board must be established after conferences with myself, Indian Government and the leading Indian industrialists. I cannot express it too strongly that the press conference and the radio speech have brought these industrialists, and even today Pandit Nehru’s paper, the National Herald, into America’s corner and the establishment of a board without my participation therein will meet with the same distrust and lack of support, but if done by the Government of India with American participation and participation by the industrialists, the results we can report to America will astound you.

Herrington and Beyster, the industrialists of the American Technical Mission, have been through these discussions and were here this morning in consultation with the President of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and the Tatarian representatives, and they all agree that this is the only possible program for India and a necessary and urgently vital program to aid China.

I urge earliest possible action in support of this program. I repeat, it cannot be accomplished here without direction from London.

The establishment of such a board will give confidence to those whose support we must have both industrial wise and political wise if the people of India are to resist the Japanese.

Johnson
  1. Arthur W. Herrington and Lt. Col. Paul H. Griffith of the American Technical Mission.