Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

Participants: The Secretary of State, General Marshall
The Appointed Ambassador of India, Mr. Asaf Ali1
The Minister of the Indian Embassy, Mr. Binay Ranjan Sen
The Chief of Protocol, Mr. Woodward

The Appointed Ambassador of India called upon me today to present a copy of his Letter of Credence, and a copy of his remarks to be made to the President.2

[Page 148]

After I had read his remarks, I told the Ambassador that I was pleased it had fallen among my early duties to receive him as the Representative of India; that my knowledge of India was not very great, although I had probably read as much as most people on the subject; that during the war I had known India as the supply center for the China–Burma–India theatre; and that my relations with India were now of course entirely different from what they had been during the war.

The Ambassador replied to the effect that this was a momentous time in India’s history and that he was pleased with his opportunity to represent his country in the United States on this historic occasion in Indian development. He referred to India’s role in the war as the arsenal of the CBI theatre, and deplored that his country had been so ill prepared to serve the allied cause. He stated that he wished to repeat what he had told Mr. Bevin,3 that had India been adequately prepared, the war would have been shortened by at least two years. He continued that he hoped to see the political and economic development of his country flourish, and that if India became strong it would be a bastion for the world against the great northern neighbor which now cast its shadow over two continents, Asia and Europe. To the left and right flanks of India the countries were weak but India might serve as a strong center between weaker neighbors.

I told the Ambassador that I was greatly interested in what he had said and inquired concerning his knowledge of the United States. Upon his reply that this was his first visit, I said that I hoped he would not be confused by our politics, that sometimes in the discussion of domestic issues, like the budget, international relations seemed to become involved, but of one thing he could be sure, the integrity of American foreign policy. I mentioned my experience in China where the situation was very confused and told the Ambassador that despite the confusion, there was never any doubt concerning our aim which was for only two things, first, unity in China and second, a reasonably democratic system of government, and that despite propaganda to the contrary and the allegation of ulterior motives to the United States in its dealings with China, it became clearer and clearer to all concerned that it was only unity and an orderly, democratic form of government that we wanted in that country.

In his final remarks to me, the Ambassador made no reference to unity, on which his predecessor, Bajpai,4 had laid so much store, or an orderly, democratic system, but referred to my mention of propaganda and his own unhappy experiences in that field as Indian Minister of Transportation. Asaf Ali concluded his remarks with the statement [Page 149] that politically India had nothing to fear, that it was greatly indebted to the British and to the stand the British had taken on Indian Independence, that India politically would get along all right but that economically the potential of four hundred million people had yet to be developed. A number of “Tennessee Valley Authorities” were projected for India and it was especially with respect to these that the Ambassador would call upon me for assistance.

G. C. M[arshall]
  1. M. Asaf Ali, former Congress member of the 1946 (September–October) Indian Interim Government.
  2. The text of the Ambassador’s remarks and the President’s reply was issued to the press by the Department of State as press release 155 of February 28, 1947.
  3. Ernest Bevin, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  4. Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai.