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

1036. 1. Embassy’s preliminary evaluation of effect of Bulganin, Khrushchev visit2 on India and on US security is that it will represent a gain for Russians despite determination of Indian leaders to keep India independent and despite Indian leaders basic orientation toward Western Democracies. Along with their current drive into the Middle East and relentless pressure in Southeast Asia, Communist powers may well regard visit as another step toward total conquest of Asia, which would set stage for continuing their advance in Europe.

2. Embassy is losing no opportunity point out to responsible Indians folly of taking Russians at their word, and dangers inherent in giving visitors indiscriminate publicity build-up. At same time Embassy believes nothing is likely to help Russians more in their [Page 299] current objectives in India than actions in Washington suggesting reduced interest in welfare of free Asian countries at very moment when Bulganin and Khrushchev are hinting broadly at increasing aid they are already providing, and openly challenging West to “compete for India’s friendship.”

3. Impressive numbers of Indians, including officials at highest levels have gone out of their way to ask Embassy officers not to read undue significance into hospitality extended to Russian visitors. Indians explain Nehru is determined show Russians democratic government can produce as magnificent a reception as their totalitarian regime did for him. Embassy convinced no Indians outside of CPI wish to subordinate selves to Russia or to any other country but GOI is determined make five-year plan succeed. Therefore in cases where Western friends have failed provide assistance requested for specific projects Indians have accepted help from Russia along with calculated risk of Russian political penetration.

4. Embassy considers it dangerous to attach undue significance to aspects Russian visit which might rebound to our advantage, such as apparent lack of enthusiasm among crowds welcoming visitors;3 violation of hospitality represented by attacks on Western powers; or theory that Bulganin’s apparent approval of Nehru will make it difficult for CPI to attack Congress Party in future. Behavior of crowds in this case probably has little political significance. Bulganin’s attack on military alliances, hypocritical as it was, paralleled GOI’s professed policy in this field; and while Bulganin’s visit may soft-pedal CPI attacks on Nehru, there is no reason believe CPI will not continue effort to destroy Congress Party—particularly on local issues throughout country.

5. It would be dangerous seek comfort in hope that Russians may promise aid which they will not deliver. Embassy assumes their understanding of India’s importance in their global strategy is such that they will make prodigious effort make good on promises. Even though they offer help relatively modest gift at this time they will probably score impressive propaganda gain because they are presenting themselves to India as dynamic, cheerful, friendly, robustly self-confident, while Indians—on basis press reports, right or wrongly—are beginning to wonder whether Washington is inconsistent, cool, and wavering.

In 1946 this mission pointed out to Department the danger of expansion toward India of Communist power which is now consolidated along the Burmese, Indian, Nepalese and Kashmir borders—a [Page 300] line nearly 2,000 miles long. In 1956, Communist penetration of these territories, along with Afghanistan, has become a reality. GOI’s relentless fight against Indian Communists has crushed a Communist rebellion in Telengana4 and has defeated the CPI in all its efforts to seize power through constitutional means. Meanwhile the US assistance program has gone far to demonstrate to Indians the advantages of living under a democratic form of government, and US experts are working in all parts of India and sitting in Central Government Ministries as advisers. Having observed success of our program Russians are offering same sort of help. If actions are taken in Washington which create vacuums in aid programs, the Russians will undoubtedly be only too glad to fill these. This will in turn reduce the chance of helping India to remain in the free world.

The Embassy earnestly hopes the Department will recognize fact that actions taken in Washington which convey impression that we have written off India as a bad risk—despite Indian leaders’ recent efforts in Delhi, Washington and Singapore to show their desire for our friendship—Messrs. Bulganin and Khrushchev may well leave India with the feeling that their success has exceeded their fondest hopes.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.6191/11–2555. Confidential. Repeated to Moscow, London, Rangoon, and Kabul.
  2. Bulganin and Khrushchev arrived in India November 19.
  3. Telegram 105 from Madras, November 29, reported large and spirited receptions for the Soviet leaders in southern India. (Department of State, Central Files, 033.6191/11–2955)
  4. Between 1948 and 1951 the Telegu-speaking section of Hyderabad known as Telengana was in armed revolt against the Indian Government resulting from Communist-incited direct action by the peasantry against local officials and landlords. Thousands of Communists were detained and the CPI was banned in four states.
  5. Ambassador Mehta called at the Department of State December 1 to ascertain U.S. reaction to the visit of the Soviet leaders to India. Allen informed him that the United States did not care for the fact that the Soviets had used public platforms while official guests of the Indian Government to attack the United States. (Telegram 1335 to New Delhi, December 2; Department of State, Central Files, 033.6191/12–2555)