791.00/11–1050: Telegram

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

top secret
priority

1161. 1. We have reliable and even authoritative information to effect that events in Tibet and unrest in Nepal1 have resulted in increasing dissatisfaction in top Indian government and party circles with India’s present foreign policy. Even those members of Cabinet who [are] Nehru adherents appear to be convinced that time has come for India to recognize that international communism is country’s chief danger and to make corresponding shifts in policy. Patel2 has been stating privately that within next few days he will insist in Cabinet meeting that India not only change policy in direction of closer cooperation with western powers, particularly US, but that it make announcement to that effect. Another Cabinet Minister who is in Nehru’s camp said privately two days ago that Nehru is now only member of Cabinet who insists that there is still hope friendship between Communist China and India and that GOI should make no move which may endanger development that friendship. Patel’s speech reported in this morning’s press (Embtel 1160, November 10)3 condemning Communist China for attack on Tibet is believed opening gun in this internal struggle. Patel is reliably reported to have said in private conversation with one of his most trusted lieutenants that he would be willing to defer to Nehru in matters of foreign policy so long as India’s security was not at stake; “he was convinced now [Page 1475]however that continuation of Nehru’s policy would endanger security of India and he could no longer remain passive. He felt so strongly in the matter that he would prefer to resign from Cabinet and to break openly with Nehru rather than to allow matters to drift.

2. One unfortunate feature of situation is that Patel and others advocating change in India’s policies are arguing that India must strengthen its military establishment if it is effectively to face its Communist neighbor, and that it cannot properly strengthen its military establishment without aid from West, particularly US; that it cannot expect aid from US unless it makes it clear before whole world that it stands with West against aggressiveness of international Communism. In this connection please see page 7 enclosure Embdesp 200 July 264 in which outline Patel statement to me re need for US military equipment. It might be embarrassing if change of GOI policy would be based on expectation of receiving substantial military equipment from US in view of our own shortages in this respect.

3. So far as I know, no one this mission has been recently approached even informally by emissaries of those Indian leaders desiring change in foreign policy. Nevertheless whenever occasion arises we have been endeavoring to make it clear that demands on US for military equipment are so much in excess of our ability to supply such equipment that regardless of what India’s foreign policy might be it should not expect any substantial quantities of arms from US in near future.

5.5 We have also from time to time indicated that we have no desire to press India to “align itself” with US or to join any “bloc;” we would however like for India to cooperate with US fully in strengthening existing systems of collective security, for it to join wholeheartedly with other free nations in opposing aggression, and for it to make decisions on international questions on their merits rather than on desire to “keep from taking sides.”

6. We are inclined to believe that in spite of declared determination of Patel and others to make foreign policy disagreements major issues, Nehru and Patel will be able to work out some kind of formula which will enable India gradually to shift in direction towards West without too much publicity being given to this change. Nehru is said to be showing somewhat more friendliness to US than heretofore and he appears to be steadily losing enthusiasm for Communist China.

Henderson
  1. For documentation regarding U.S. relations with Tibet and Nepal, see vol. vi, pp. 256 ff., and pp. 1484 ff. herein, respectively.
  2. Vallabhbhai Patel, Indian Deputy Prime Minister.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. There is no paragraph numbered 4.