Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Joseph S. Sparks of the Division of South Asian Affairs


The following notes compose an abstract in abbreviated form of the discussion on Tuesday morning, December 16, between the three Ambassadors1 currently on consultation in SOA, and the appropriate Department officers:2

Mr. Hare: Should we be thinking still in terms of an eventual return to a united India, and are there certain realms of cooperation between India and Pakistan on which we should concentrate our attentions?

Ambassador Grady: There is a chance for overall cooperation without disturbing the institutional independence of either country. The possibility of a Joint Parliamentary Committee is an example. This would not represent an about face on the question of the division of the country, but would be an attempt to cooperate along economic and defense lines. Real progress in this direction was made in the recent Lahore meetings with only Kashmir left unsettled.3 Nehru is pessimistic about this one problem, but I do not feel that solution is hopeless. Even if Kashmir is not satisfactorily solved, the countries may well go ahead on other cooperative lines. For example, a Customs Union is possible and would serve to solve the jute problem. On the whole, a loose federal system is the maximum we could hope for. Earl Mountbatten hopes for concrete advances in this direction before his departure in April.

Ambassador Alling: You agree that it is unlikely that the two nations could get together?

Ambassador Grady: They could not on the pre-August 15 status. However, feelings at top level are not as antagonistic as the public utterances of the leaders suggest. Communal feelings will last a long time with sporadic uprisings, but this will not interfere with high level cooperation. At the top level, the troubles which have been experienced have taught a lesson and some humility. Chances are better than fifty-fifty there will be no more serious uprisings.

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Mr. Hare: What should our tactics be in political, economic, and defense fields?

Ambassador Grady: The economic field is the easiest to answer—defense is now being worked on in the two countries.

Mr. Thurston: The Joint Defense Council is being retained.

Mr. Mathews: Are possibilities of cooperation stronger if the two Dominions remain in the Commonwealth?

Ambassador Grady: We should encourage a loose federation, but I question our interfering in the Commonwealth problem. We are already accused of pulling British chestnuts out of the fire. I don’t think the possibility of cooperation would be affected, although the countries might work together better if they were independent. It would be difficult if one country left the Commonwealth and the other stayed in, but, in my opinion, cooperation between the two does not depend on their Commonwealth status.

Ambassador Huddle: Are there any indications as to whether India will remain in the British Commonwealth?

Ambassador Grady: Not yet, although the Draft Constitution provides for a republic.

Ambassador Alling: If India withdrew, would that affect the status of the Princely States?

Mr. Thurston: That is possible.

Mr. Hare: Are you convinced of the sincerity of Patel’s4 change of approach to the communal problem?

Ambassador Grady: I am inclined to think Patel is sincere. He is confident of the future of India, but not so confident of the future of Pakistan. Patel may be counting on Pakistan falling back automatically to India as a result of the working of economic forces. He told me he expects East Bengal to want to go back to India within a year. Communal troubles have occurred in Calcutta, but were brought under control.

Mr. Thurston: Has there been any further talk about a united Bengal?

Ambassador Grady: No. There is a strong anti-British feeling among top Indians. They Want the British out and the sooner the better. I think India will carry through on the question of separation.

Mr. Doolittle: Does resentment extend to British businessmen?

Ambassador Grady: Yes, but officials and major industrialists are the leaders among the Indians who wish to eliminate the British.

Ambassador Alling: Pakistan has not even considered going back to India.

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Mr. Hare: What should our attitude be?

Ambassador Grady: Encourage cooperation—stay out of Commonwealth questions. There is no anti-American feeling in India (the newspapers do not really carry enough influence to count in this), but there would be, if we identified ourselves with the Commonwealth cause.

Mr. Thurston: We have taken on certain commitments in supporting Pakistan internationally which we could not now go back on.

Ambassador Grady: I agree we must be very careful. Indians are very jealous of everything we do for Pakistan. I am constantly questioned on this point in India. If we made a loan to Pakistan, India would resent it unless we gave the same to India. This applies to all matters right down the line.

Mr. Hare: Would you agree that our key note now should be good neighborliness rather than unity?

Ambassador Grady: I would.

Ambassador Alling: There are international problems bringing the countries together, i.e., South Africa, Palestine, et cetera.

Ambassador Grady: Yes—and the number will increase as time goes on.

Ambassador Alling: What are the possibilities of a Customs Union?

Ambassador Grady: Very good. They are working toward it. Rajagopalachari5 deplores reference by Indian leaders to unity as he feels it accomplishes nothing, and offends Pakistan leaders.

Mr. Thurston: Pakistan needs revenue. Can they afford a Customs Union?

Ambassador Grady: If they could jointly raise tariffs against the world, they could increase revenues, and I believe they will do just that.

Mr. Hare: Shall we agree then, that we will never question independence of either country in our policy, but will encourage cooperation wherever possible?

Ambassador Grady: Yes—particularly economic.

. . . . . . .

United States–British Cooperation

Ambassador Grady: The British have been friendly, but have made no attempt to consult with us on common problems or to ask our advice. Neither Shone nor Mountbatten thinks of us in any way as partners. They have over three hundred people working on trade relations. I have expressed more sympathy for British trade than the British have for American trade. On more than one occasion, Mountbatten has warned Nehru against dollar imperialism.

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Mr. Hare: Can we do anything about that attitude?

Ambassador Grady: I have waited patiently for a hand of cooperation from the British, but it has never come. Any change in this attitude would have to come on orders from London.

Mr. Hare: There is no reason why British–United States interests should clash in India?

Ambassador Grady: None whatever. The British are not happy about the strong position which we have in India, or about the weak position which they have. They are trying to salvage everything they can from the separation. Shone thinks only in terms of immediate British interests.

Mr. Thurston: How do you feel about the Department’s point of view as outlined in the Consultation Memoranda?

Ambassador Grady: I think it is all right—quite sound. I think top level conversations in London at this time a good idea.

Mr. Hare: Could such general cooperation be sold to the British?

Ambassador Grady: There are many fields in which we should be cooperating, but are not. There are only minor relations between Shone’s office and ours. The Deputy High Commissioner is more helpful. Shone is not a heavyweight and is the key to the problem. Certain British generals, however, have been very cooperative. I think Shone’s attitude is personal rather than official.

General Economic

specific aims


Ambassador Grady: I don’t believe American civil air lines are doing us much good in India because of their service (or lack of it). The situation is moving along rather satisfactorily, however, competition will be stronger, particularly from Indian lines which may look to the Government of India for help vis-à-vis United States lines.

Princely States

Ambassador Grady: I was asked if the United States Government would help in obtaining office space in Washington for Hyderabad. They talk in terms of tremendous business development, but are concerned about demands of material to carry out the Marshall plan, and its effect of [on?] India’s needs. I think it a great mistake for our Government to overlook India in concentrating on Europe. There should be a real fight on the part of all of us here to see to it India isn’t overlooked.

Mr. Hare: If Hyderabad sets up an independent office in Washington, would they deal separately with us? Mustn’t we always think in terms of India as a whole?

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Ambassador Grady: The emphasis will have to be placed on working through the Indian Embassy.

Mr. Mathews: Particularly on any diplomatic point.

Ambassador Grady: There is danger of Hyderabad trying to use its trade representation as an entering wedge. It will have to be watched constantly. Mountbatten has really appreciated our attitude of not encouraging the ambitions of Hyderabad. This attitude has strengthened GOI’s hand. I think their mission should be regarded strictly as any other purchasing office.


Mr. Deimel: There has been some feeling among United States allocation authorities that India was too large and remote to help. We have fought that and have been reasonably successful in keeping India from being cut down too much.

Ambassador Grady: GOI is anxious to reduce food purchases as soon as possible from the dollar area to their absolute minimum needs.

Mr. Thurston: What effect will abandonment of rationing controls have on food consumption in India?

Ambassador Grady: It was a spirited fight and results are not yet clear.

I think prices will advance which will cut consumption at the wrong level of the economy.

[Omitted here are final paragraphs concerning Ambassador Grady’s request for increased administrative funds and a second plane for Embassy use at New Delhi.]

  1. Henry F. Grady, Paul H. Alling, appointed Ambassador to Pakistan September 25, 1947, and Jerome Klahr Huddle, appointed Ambassador to Burma October 17, 1947.
  2. Henry L. Deimel, NEA, Raymond A. Hare, Ray L. Thurston, E. G. Mathews, Ernest F. Fox, Edward Dahl and Joseph S. Sparks SOA, and Hooker A. Doolittle, Consul General at Lahore. Mr. Hare was Chief of the Division of South Asian Affairs.
  3. For documentation on the Kashmir dispute, see pp. 179 ff.
  4. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Minister for Home, Information, Broadcasting and States, Indian Dominion Government
  5. H. E. Rajagopalachari, Governor of West Bengal.