891.231/3–3151: Telegram

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

top secret
priority

2633. Eyes only Berry NEA.

1. Bajpai asked see me today. Said member Dept had recently informally suggested Mme. Pandit it might be useful just now for Deshmukh or other appropriate Ind official issue new statement re Ind fon exchange position. This suggestion had been discussed by members Ind Govt incl Nehru and Deshmukh and it decided inopportune for [Page 2135]such statement be made just now. Only obvious reason for such statement wld be influence US Congress act favorably on food grain bill. GOI cld not afford before Ind and world public take action which might appear place it in role suppliant. PriMin nevertheless expressed deep appreciation everything Dept was doing help India this crisis and regretted suggestion made with Ind welfare in mind cld not be acted upon favorably.

2. Bajpai said situation deteriorating rapidly and he hoped we wld understand India must look in every possible direction for foodgrain which can be promptly delivered. I considered it preferable not to press him as to what he meant by “every possible direction.”

3. I said rumor had reached me that India’s fon exchange position considerably better than had been anticipated two months ago and India might be in position purchase sizeable quantity foodgrain US or elsewhere just now for cash. I asked if Deshmukh during conversations had touched on this point. Bajpai replied such rumor had not come to him and Deshmukh had certainly not intimated to PriMin or him any such change in India’s fon exchange position.

4. Bajpai expressed appreciation GOI President’s additional statement re urgency action on foodgrain.1

Henderson
  1. In telegram 2642 from New Delhi, March 31, Ambassador Henderson made the following additional comment: “In Embtel 2633, I failed include among reasons advanced by Bajpai for decision GOI not to make public statement was that GOI had already furnished US Government all pertinent information re Indian’s foreign exchange position. He added it was also prepared answer any further questions which US Government may desire put.” (891.131/3–3151)