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

No. 458

Sir: I have the honor to refer to despatch No. 1333 dated April 18, 1944,85 from the Consulate at Bombay forwarding a letter received by [Page 282] the Consulate from Dr. Jagadisan Mohandas Kumarappa which discusses relations between India and the United States, and to recommend that the Department extend to Dr. Kumarappa an invitation to visit the United States as its guest.

Such a visit would enable the Science, Education and Art Division of the Department’s Office of Public Information to discuss the question of a closer link between American and Indian educators and social workers with an Indian who not only is interested in the subject but also has many constructive ideas. As an official guest of the Department it would be possible to obtain for Dr. Kumarappa priority travel to the United States via ATC86 planes which at present are not crowded on west bound flights.

The Consulate’s despatch states Dr. Kumarappa feels the time may not yet be ripe for the inauguration of a system of visiting professorships between the two countries. It is my understanding that under the convention providing for the exchange of professors among the American Republics, the country sending a professor pays his salary, although the opposite is true in the case of exchange students. If the United States should follow the same system with respect to India, the receiving institution in India would not have to worry about the salary of a visiting American professor.

For political reasons, however, the present may be an inappropriate time to arrange an official system of exchange. I believe the analysis of British antagonism to any growth in American educational influence in India found on pages 4 and 5 of the Consulate’s despatch under reference is substantially true. It would, therefore, be unlikely that the British dominated Government of India would be willing at this time to arrange for an official exchange of professors. Similarly, the Government of India probably would try to dissuade any public institution of higher learning from adding an American expert to its faculty even temporarily.

In view of these conditions, the best opportunity now in sight of introducing American influence into Indian education may be through the private Tata Institute of Social Sciences which Dr. Kumarappa heads. The Department may wish to consider seriously the granting of stipends to American teachers picked out by Dr. Kumarappa and willing to teach for a time at the Tata Institute but unable to do so because of the small remuneration the Institute is able to offer them.

Modestly enough Dr. Kumarappa discusses research fellowships purely from the American viewpoint perhaps not realizing that both the Rockefeller Institute and the Guggenheim Fund also award fellowships for graduate study by foreigners in the United States. In his speech before the legislative bodies on February 17, 1944, the Viceroy [Page 283] stated that there would be opportunities for Indians connected with industry, the health services, and other branches of development to visit the United Kingdom, “and if required the U.S.A.” No doubt the British authorities in India would like to reward loyal supporters by giving them such opportunities. Nevertheless, in view of the Viceroy’s statement, British authorities would find it difficult to stand in the way if the United States Government invited health and social welfare authorities to visit the United States as guests of the Department; or if the Guggenheim Fund or the Rockefeller Foundation granted research fellowships to them. No doubt the Department could tactfully explore this question with Dr. Kumarappa if he should visit the United States.

The “International House” which Dr. Kumarappa proposes to establish in Bombay sounds much like the cultural institutes which Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States have established in many foreign countries, only in this case the agency would be in the home country and would present the accomplishments of the country to foreign visitors. The idea has merit, however, and careful thought might be given to presenting to such an International House, if established, a library of American books and subscriptions to American periodicals.

The Department should not tie itself too closely to the Tatas in embarking on a closer interchange with India for, after all, they represent Indian capital rather than the Indian masses. Unlike most Indian industrialists, however, they appear to have developed a habit of philanthropy almost American in character. Pending the time when India is free to establish intellectual relationships as national leaders of the country themselves see fit, the school founded by the Tatas provides a ready made vehicle for spreading a greater appreciation of our country without obvious effort.

Respectfully yours,

George R. Merrell
  1. Not printed.
  2. Air Transport Command.