611.91/4–1250: Telegram

The Ambassador in India ( Henderson ) to the Secretary of State


504. (1) My speech of March 271 served to bring more into open feelings of unfriendliness towards US which according to our understanding have been steadily strengthening in India during last eight months. Although cutting criticism and type of jeers to which Indians, particularly those with thin veneer of British culture, are addicted are not pleasant, it is probably preferable that they frankly and publicly give vent to their pent-up resentment rather than remain silent while seething inwardly.

(2) Criticism expressed in press or orally has been aimed at those weaknesses or faults, fancied or real, of US Government or people upon which Indians when irritated with US are accustomed to dwell, including our treatment of American negroes, our tendency to support colonialism and to strive for continued world supremacy of white peoples, our economic imperialism, superficiality of our culture, our lack of emotional balance as evidenced by our present hysteria in combatting Communism and our cynical use of “witch-hunting method” in promoting domestic political ends, our practice of giving economic and other assistance to foreign peoples only when we believe such assistance will aid in our struggle against Communism, our assumption of superiority merely because we have higher standards of living, our hyprocrisy, etc.

(3) We are convinced that increase of dislike for, or resentment toward, US is primarily due to growing belief of Indians that: (a) we have not given and do not intend give India any substantial economic assistance during this trying period in its history, while giving billions to various countries in Europe and Asia. Failure of GOI to obtain wheat from US last year either as gift or at bargain prices has in general been accepted by Indians as conclusive evidence that US Government and people are not really interested in welfare of [Page 1462] Indian people and that US has no intention of rendering India any important aid in foreseeable future in latter’s battle to maintain or raise standards of living or in carrying out urgently needed programs economic development. Indians are inclined regard Point Four aid as grandiose empty gesture made for double purpose of convincing undeveloped peoples US interest in them and of gaining extensive influence over such peoples at relatively little cost.

(b) US favors Pakistan in Kashmir dispute,2 is using its influence behind scenes to help Pakistan obtain Kashmir, and is even endeavoring exert economic pressure on India to follow course of action which would give Kashmir to Pakistan. Indians in ever larger numbers are becoming convinced that US preference for Pakistan is based on US belief that friendship of Pakistan is more valuable to US than that of India.

(c) US engrossed in world-wide struggle for maintenance of system of free enterprise is using its economic power through various channels in attempts to force India to abandon national economic planning which GOI supported by majority Indian nationalists considers essential for economic development of country in view of India’s shortage in material and financial resources, of technical and administrative personnel in Government apparatus, and of public-spirited and able financiers, industrialists, and merchants in business circles.

(4) Explanations of reasons for failure US to give India substantial economic aid, of US position re Kashmir, of US attitude re private versus state enterprise make little impression since most Indians take attitude “action speaks louder than words.” They state or insinuate that no explanations, regardless their smoothness, can erase facts as they see them that US has been and is slighting India in distributing aid among foreign peoples; that US has found it convenient ignore moral factors in Kashmir dispute and sometimes openly, sometimes furtively, support Pakistan’s position; and that US has been bringing pressure on India through various ways to abandon state planning and control and to lay itself wide open to penetration by American investors interested primarily in quick and large profits.

(5) Indian public in general has been so deeply disappointed at failure expected American economic assistance to appear and at failure US to appreciate what it regards as high moral position India re Kashmir that much of resentment against US must be regarded as of spontaneous character. Nevertheless hostility towards US has been fanned by quiet undercover campaign encouraged by group politicians and sycophants around Prime Minister,3 and systematic [Page 1463] open attacks on US made by Socialists who regard US as leading exponent of capitalism, and by Communists who see US as main obstacle to complete Communist victory in Asia.

(6) In presenting foregoing analysis of how India views US at present time, I realize that Department may be somewhat shocked to learn depth of resentment towards America and width of gap that divides our respective points of view. We have not however arrived at present stage of our relations overnight. Undoubtedly Department has been concerned by accumulating evidences of this trend in our reports over past few months, as well as in its talks with Indian visitors to US. I do not wish discount factors which could slow up, reverse present trend, such as persistent dissatisfaction of members of Cabinet and many other leaders with Nehru’s basic foreign policies and their conviction India must cease to alienate those who could be of greatest help to her and must adopt instead a more cooperative attitude in dealing with Western democracies (Embtels 321, 384 and 424 March 11, 21 and 29).4 This struggle between Nehru and his opponents will probably continue. It is an unfortunate fact that some of Nehru’s most telling arguments are based on three fundamental causes of Indian dissatisfaction with US as set forth above in paragraph (3). So long as this internal struggle persists, those around Nehru will not hesitate to exploit such anti-American feelings as they can generate. Moreover, even Nehru’s opponents are not deeply interested in more friendly relations because of any partiality for US; fundamentally their position is that more cooperative attitude on part India toward US is practical way for India to obtain grants and other material assistance which are now going to others. So long as India continues to measure our friendliness by what we do for her, rather than by what we say, it will continue to be difficult to advance our basic objectives with respect to India, namely, to develop India’s pro-Western orientation and promote her stability. Moreover it would be mistake to dismiss rising tide of Indian unfriendliness as temporary phenomenon. This tide is likely to rise higher as Indian economic and political difficulties increase. Even if world events later should check flow and cause recession the after-effects will probably be felt for years to come.

(7) In spite of foregoing there are islands of sincere friendliness to US to be found in all strata Indian society. This friendliness finds expression in various newspapers and in oral statements and gracious gestures by Indians whom Americans meet officially or socially. Even some of our most severe critics appear sincerely to regret present trend.

  1. Speech before the Indian Council of World Affairs at New Delhi, released to the press on the same date. For excerpts, see Department of State Bulletin, April 10, 1950, pp. 562–567.
  2. For documentation, see pp. 1362 ff.
  3. Jawaharlal Nehru.
  4. None printed.