148. Telegram From the Embassy in India to the Department of State 1

1901. Department pass Streibert. This morning 11:30 called on Prime Minister. In 45-minute talk, 20 minutes was devoted to USIS problem. I stated upon basis of my own investigations India, and upon statements of Department:

Specific instances presented me by Pillai were without foundation;
Further, that USIS or Department did not in any way subsidize any publications or individuals in India. I emphasized that we had treated GOI inquiries with the importance which GOI had attached to them, and responded further along the lines in Embassy telegram.

Nehru responded by saying that he accepted without question my statement and that of Department and said that he did not question in any way the friendship, good purposes, and desire for good relations of United States. He then said that he felt that he [Page 287] must say he did not think suspicions or charges on past operations entirely baseless, suggesting as Pillai, there might be some organization “in the vast United States Government” which charged with certain policies might, “mistakenly” undertake such operations, or some individual or perhaps some persons outside scope of government might “mistakenly” undertake same. Only specific suggestion he made was that organizations could in an apparently legal and normal way assist publications by favorable contracts for their work. I gave him such details were available to me on USIS contracts for printing, saying that they were normal and prices normal, and USIS is willing to discuss same with representative of GOI if he desired. He further said that he had impression that USIS was not under authority [of Ambassador. I replied?] that I did have responsibility inquiring into its operations and seeing to it that they were in accord with United States policy which was to support and maintain friendliest cooperative and honorable relations with India, and that I would do so. At end I said that I would say as a representative United States Government that Department or USIS had not engaged and would not engage in such activities. We then discussed briefly general problem of interchange of views by information services and necessity for freedom of information, and while he did not dwell long on subject, he said that such interchanges were acceptable and necessary. My conclusions are as follows

He accepts my statement that Department and USIS are not presently engaged in subsidization.
He has some doubt that they have not so engaged in the past.
He accepts our assurance that problems relating to information will be fully discussed between GOI and US, taking initiative in saying he felt sure this would be possible.
He has some suspicion that there is some agency outside Department of State which unknown to US representatives in India has the possibility of carrying on such activities.
There will be no request at this time by GOI for any reduction of USIS posts or activities. This was not discussed but I feel this to be true from tone and subject of our conversation.
Conversation respecting USIS and information activities friendly and full. Nevertheless I have feeling that he is watching developments and suspicion is not entirely erased from his mind.2
I recommend thorough review and analysis of … operations India.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 511.91/6–155. Top Secret; Priority.
  2. On August 14, Henry Loomis, Chief of the Office of Research and Intelligence of USIA, wrote to Flanagan in regard to the collection and “submission of important information” on Indian local affairs, in light of the sensitive situation in which USIA found itself. “No one ever anticipated or expected that USIS people anywhere would engage in any concentrated looking, asking, or digging. We have always held that most of the information in which the Agency is particularly interested, and which is not received from other agencies, is the type of information which USIS people pick up in the normal course of their regular duties.” This included “Propaganda activities of other countries and groups; indigenous media facilities, target groups, etc.” Cloak and dagger operations, he wrote, did not come under that heading. Loomis did want book and periodical collection, particularly of Communist propaganda material. (Ibid., USIA/IAN Files: Lot 61 D 233, India–New Delhi PAO—July–December 1955)