845.5018/49: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Officer in Charge at New Delhi ( Merrell )

554. The Department understood from the Mission’s 679, September 25, that reply to Mayor of Calcutta by Consulate General was being widely criticized in India because of its negative tone and that the impression conveyed by Reuters press items was encouraging this criticism. (Reference Mission’s 727, October 8). It is felt that an inconsistency exists when that reply has been used as a basis for public criticism of the United States attitude as negative and indifferent, and when the Government of India privately describes it as a basis for deep appreciation. While it is realized that the Government of India will disavow responsibility for Reuters items, it is thought that in view of the friendly relations existing between Reuters and the Government of India this inconsistency might be discussed informally with the latter.

This Government is much concerned at the food shortage and is prepared to render any assistance which may be practicable or which exigencies of the war make possible. The Department’s 538 of October 9 indicates, however, why the shipment of foodstuffs from this country to India is not, generally speaking, practicable. Furthermore, as also pointed out in that telegram, shipping between United States and India is now under British control and it therefore rests with the British to determine to what extent available space may be utilized for the transportation of any foodstuffs which might be sent from this country. You may also make known to the Government of India the position of the British representatives of the committees operating under the Combined Food Board (Department’s 539 of October 9) with regard to action by that Board.

In view of these considerations and in view of the fact that the utilization of ships on the Australia–India run and the utilization of new British ships as suggested in the Mission’s telegram under acknowledgment would appear also to rest within the discretion of the British authorities, the Department is unable to perceive any basis for the Government of India’s belief that conversations between representatives of this Government and representatives in Washington of the British Ministries of War Transport and Food might usefully be initiated by United States officials. If, however, the British authorities feel that this Government can be helpful in any manner, the Department will welcome suggestions from them. The Department will of course also welcome any specific suggestions with regard to possible assistance by this Government which the Government of India authorities in New Delhi or in Washington may be able to make.

The Government of India may be informed in the premises.