891.03/1–2751: Telegram

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

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1843. 1. At his request, I saw this morning Minister1 who is one firmest friends US in Cabinet. He said he deeply disturbed at PIT–Reuters story published in today’s press indicating present foreign policy GOI might adversely affect US attitude re granting GOI request for two million tons food grain. Article in question stated Senator Connally2 of Senate Foreign Relations Committee had hinted Committee “would take its time in acting on India’s request” and added State Department was understood to feel that US had grain available and that India was in need of it. Minister said he and several other Ministers were distressed at foreign policy at present being pursued by Nehru, but that they sincerely hoped US would not permit these foreign policies stand in way speedy favorable action on India’s request for food grain. Failure to take such action would almost automatically destroy position of friends of US in India; he himself [Page 2091]might be compelled leave Cabinet; and for long-time to come few Indian leaders would dare lift their voices in support of US or in defense US policies. It would be possible for enemies of US to rally around them most of remaining free peoples by concentrating on propaganda that US willing cold-bloodedly allow peoples in India starve merely because it did not like foreign policy Prime Minister. He begged me send telegram Washington outlining situation State Department and pointing out it was more important now than ever before for US come to India’s aid with food. He said Prime Minister would, in his opinion, be “abashed” if in spite of his foreign policy US should give India food grain so badly needed.

2. I asked if I was to infer from last statement that Prime Minister would be relieved if US should fail give India food requested. He replied negative. Said Nehru not so insincere as to approve request for food grain if he had not wished request granted. Nehru realized that if this food was not forthcoming, there would be wide suffering in India, did not wish this. Nevertheless, Nehru would not permit himself to be deflected from foreign policies which he was pursuing merely in order assure favorable vote in US Congress on food grain for India. There was no one in India, in his opinion, except Communists and fellow-travelers who did not want US give this food grain.

Henderson
  1. Not identified further but possibly Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, Indian Home Minister, whom Henderson described as “after Nehru most influential member Cab and reputedly leader of pro-Amer group in Cab” (telegram 2S04 from New Delhi, April 12, p. 2142).
  2. Senator Tom Connally of Texas.