The Assistant Secretary of State (Acheson) to the Lend-Lease Administrator (Stettinius)
My Dear Ed: I have received your letter of August 19, 194258 in which you refer to the final report of the American Technical Mission to India.58 It is noted that before exploring the suggested projects with the Indian Supply Mission and with the British, you desire an expression of this Department’s views with regard to the current Indian situation.
As you are no doubt aware, the Technical Mission proceeded to India under the auspices of the Department of State and at the invitation of the Government of India. The function of the Mission was to investigate and recommend ways and means by which the United States Government could assist in augmenting India’s war potentialities and to make general recommendation to the Government of India regarding wartime economic problems. In its work the Mission was concerned therefore only with the determination of such improvements in the Indian industrial set-up as might facilitate the war effort of the United Nations. It appears that the Mission in its recommendations has not diverged from this conception of its duties, and unless agencies of the Government possessing the requisite technical knowledge conclude that the implementation of any of the Mission’s recommendations would not result in an increase in the effectiveness of the war effort, it is the opinion of this Department that in so far as the United States Government is concerned the desirability of implementing the program in toto is limited only by considerations of practicability, of military exigency, and of the industrial needs of the United States.
In so far as the practicability of the various individual recommendations is concerned, the Office of Lend-Lease Administration, the Board of Economic Warfare, the War Shipping Administration, and similarly interested agencies will naturally make the decisions. Decision regarding expediency from the point of view of the industrial needs of the United States must of course likewise be made by the various civilian agencies concerned.
The military aspects of the problem will of course require decision by the War Department and by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, involving as they do not only the question of the defense of India as a whole, [Page 740]but also the extent to which fighter plane protection can be anticipated for the vulnerable areas in which the erection of certain of the new installations is contemplated. It is understood that the War Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are now considering the report, and that an indication may be expected shortly of their decision with regard to the advisability of implementing or attempting to implement the various recommendations, in so far as the military side of the question is concerned.
It is, I may add, the hope and anticipation of this Department that, military developments permitting, India will become an increasing source of supply for products necessary to the prosecution of the war in the near eastern and far eastern areas. This Department is in favor of the allocation to India of all materials beneficial in this regard in so far as may be deemed advisable and possible by your organization and other interested agencies of the Government. It is hoped that pending advice from the War Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the other agencies of this Government will examine the individual items recommended in the Mission’s report with a view to making their own decision in so far as the problems involved come within the scope of their responsibility.
The final action to be taken by this Government, unless entirely negative decisions are reached in the matter, will of course depend upon the reaction of the Governments of India and the United Kingdom to the several recommendations. While those Governments have indicated their complete sympathy with the work and recommendations of the Mission in principle, their attitude toward the individual items recommended has not yet been announced.
I may add that, as we are all well aware, the political situation in India is extremely delicate and any activities in the economic sphere can easily have political ramifications. I am sure you will agree in that connection that any representatives of your organization who may serve in India should keep in unusually close touch with the American Mission at New Delhi and that the greatest care must be taken by all American agencies concerned to insure that undesirable political repercussions do not ensue from the manner in which India’s supply questions are handled.