150 Barred Zones/27½

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Murray)

Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, the Indian Agent General, called on me by appointment today.

The principal purpose of Sir Girja’s visit was to raise again the question of placing the nationals of India in this country on a basis of equality with the Chinese as a result of legislation passed in Congress during the past session.78

Sir Girja told me that he had had an opportunity to discuss this matter quite fully with the President several months ago and that the President, while sympathetic to the idea, had expressed the view that it would be desirable to postpone consideration of the matter until after the national elections.

Now that the elections are past, Sir Girja hopes that the Department may see its way clear to reexamine this question which is one of such vital concern to India. I told the Agent General that we had been following the subject closely and that we would be glad to raise the question in the Department in order to arrive at a decision as to what practicable steps could be taken under the present circumstances.

The Agent General referred to his visit to the West Coast some months ago and to the cordial reception which he had received at the hands of high state officials, including the Governor of California.79 Since the Governor had urged him to return again to California and to tour that part of the country, Sir Girja says he expects to do so, taking with him his wife and possibly his daughters on the next trip. Many Californians expressed the view that it would be very helpful to have the people in that part of our country more acquainted with the cultural aspects of modern India; they pointed [Page 282] out that the only two cultured Indians whom they had met in long years was the poet Tagore and Sir Girja himself. Sir Girja feels that this is an encouraging indication that Californians and other people in that region would welcome more cultural contacts and he is going to pursue the matter.

I very much hope that with the reconvening of Congress, serious thought will be given to meeting the wishes of the Government of India that some gesture be made to the Indians similar to that already accorded to the Chinese. After all, the Indian war effort both in production and manpower has been astonishingly large despite the fact that the political question80 has not yet been solved.

  1. For documentation regarding legislation approved December 17, 1943, (57 Stat. 600), by which Congress repealed the acts relating to Chinese exclusion and the naturalization bar, see Foreign Relations, China, 1943, pp. 769 ff. Sir Girja had made informal representations to the Department in 1943 and 1944, hoping that the provisions of that bill might be extended to East Indians (150 Barred Zones/1, 5, 11a). Legislation imposing disabilities on the immigration and naturalization of East Indians included Section 2169 of the Revised Statutes (8 U.S.C. § 359), as interpreted by the Supreme Court in its decision of February 19, 1923, in the case of the United States vs. Bhagat Singh Thind (261 U.S. 204); the Immigration Act of 1917 (approved February 5, 1917, 39 Stat. 874); the Immigration Act of 1924 (approved May 26, 1924, 43 Stat. 153); and the Nationality Act of 1940 (approved October 14, 1940, 54 Stat. 1137).
  2. Earl Warren.
  3. See pp. 249 ff.