160. Telegram From the Embassy in India to the Department of State1

1599. Views and recommendations expressed herein represent coordinated beliefs of Senator Cooper and Embassy re President’s talks with Nehru.2 Senator Cooper’s illness has thus far prevented him exploring Nehru’s thinking more than superficially but he will talk further with Nehru before returning.3 Briefing books covering political and economic factors pouched December 8 and will also be hand-carried by Senator Cooper. Following submitted as précis our thinking to assist in briefing the President.

Overall objective. External and internal events of past few months affecting Indo-American relations, and offering opportunities to [for?] clarifying and improving them, combine to raise stakes of Nehru visit to more than ordinary State visit or what might have [Page 320] come from meeting had it been held in July. As we see situation, we and India are more before an open gate than at crossroads. Externally, India almost certainly faces readjustments of policies in which factors within its economy are compelling influences.

Basic fact is that American prestige is higher than it has been for several years and at time when India more susceptible to accepting American moral and material leadership as counterweight to UK-Commonwealth ties, loss of prestige of USSR, and uneasy political, social and economic rivalry with Red China. This posture coincides with internal economic crisis which unless resolved, could mean rapid erosion of India’s democratic forms and the faith of her present leaders, notably Nehru himself, that India can achieve a democratic Asian counterpoise to Red China without resort to authoritarian techniques which could progressively shift India into the Communist orbit.

This Indian crisis centers on a potential inflationary spiral and growing shortfall of foreign exchange requirements which, unless somehow obtained, will place India behind China in the competition for economic progress and defeat second five-year goals regarded by US as minimal to safeguard Indian democracy.

Nehru, therefore, comes to Washington in a sensitive position of weakness. He and his advisers know that they have fumbled internationally, that UK no longer represents acceptable alternative leadership to US, and that they are in grave economic difficulties. (Latter point driven home during Nehru’s holding finance portfolio this year plus recent indoctrination by planning commission.) As consequence, we feel opportunities of personal diplomacy are offered President which could start process of our filling vacuum resulting from loss of prestige by USSR and UK, of assisting India in her unquestioned determination to build democratic counterpoise to Red China, and of securing greater Indian sympathy with free world, and specifically US, political objectives. We feel overall objective of talks should be to lay foundation for anchoring India more firmly to West and of orienting India external policy in directions which will, in turn, permit American public opinion and Congress to support India by lines of credit substantial enough to assure Indian capacity and confidence in keeping abreast of China by democratic norms.

In context of his problems and disappointments with USSR (Hungary, Panch Shila) and China (Burma, Nepal), we feel Nehru will be more amenable to frank, friendly discussion our problems and his than he might have been in past. He is perhaps less sure and hence will be more sensitive. We feel his economic problem may perhaps be uppermost in his mind but that he will likely be too proud to raise it in form of a specific request for US aid to meet India’s desperate need for foreign exchange.

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Though this is tactical matter which Secretary and President must decide, we believe our overall objective might be easier to attain if President fairly early in talks invited Nehru to discuss his planning objectives and problems and to submit suggestions of ways in which US might assist.

Finance Minister T.T. Krishnamachari and MEA General Secretary Pillai have told Cooper that Nehru was cognizant of critical problem of foreign exchange and that they were urging him to disclose this problem to the President. They hope that the President will initiate discussion by questioning Nehru on objectives and problems of first and second plans and that Nehru would then discuss the urgency of India’s foreign exchange requirements. Pillai thought matter might be carried forward from that point, without any US commitment, by President’s suggesting that he would welcome further information on matter and that his advisors could discuss it with Nehru’s advisors. Cooper thinks that whatever may come from this discussion in the way of economic aid, or even if no economic aid eventuates, it is important for President to inquire fairly early in talks into progress India’s development in some detail since this is Nehru’s primary interest and India’s foreign policy is to a large extent conditioned on India’s need and determination to progress economically as rapidly as possible.

If this approach were taken, we feel Nehru would be more tractable on some of larger political issues on which we probably cannot agree now and that talks would be cast in framework of a positive policy toward which both countries could work while narrowing their differences.

Additionally, we feel there is another crucial factor which should govern President’s attitude toward Nehru’s sensitivities and biases in areas where he and Nehru must now obviously agree to disagree—China, Pakistan, military bases and pacts, nuclear tests. (Department will note that Nehru and Chou En-Lai have during latter’s visit4 agreed to disagree on several issues, including Hungary.)

This factor is that Nehru and present governing team in India is perhaps as able and as Western-oriented, and certainly as committed to democratic norms, as any team India is likely to produce for some years after Nehru’s passing. The team which follows Nehru will emerge from the generation which was educated during the non-cooperation movement and which has never experienced the contact and exposure to Western thought and norms which Nehru’s generation did. This team is bound to be more Asia-for-Asian minded, more inclined to employ authoritarian methods to achieve socio-economic [Page 322] goals and to keep pace with China, unless Nehru has first successfully blazed way through democratic norms. This is one reason Nehru must attach importance he does to achieving targets of second five-year plan. And this is compelling reason for our accommodating certain of our objections to Nehru’s policies and views and more clearly orienting our policy to the strategic purpose of assisting Nehru to achieve a democratic counterpoise to China which would exert magnetic attraction throughout Free Asia.

Lines of approach: We would anticipate that the general structure of the talks would include:

Points of view which the President would wish to present to Nehru in order to influence him and to elicit a fuller estimate of Nehru’s intentions and
Areas of information which the President may wish to elicit from Nehru to estimate more fully background of Nehru’s thinking on major international and domestic issues and on what he may wish to secure from the US.

Presentation of US views: It is basic that the President detail our general strategic concept, our estimate of the situation with particular reference to the Soviet-Sino bloc, our reasons for believing this bloc has not abandoned its aggressive intentions, and concept of “competitive coexistence” within framework of military strength which it is necessary to maintain until adequate disarmament safeguards can be implemented. If Nehru accepts (as we think he will) fact that our intentions are peaceful, other problems should be more easily handled. We feel President should develop thesis that long-range objectives of India and US are parallel, that our methods differ principally because of differing responsibilities and estimates of situation, that our methods can be brought to better focus of complementarity, that India’s methods rely in large part on shield of West’s defensive strength. President must obviously also discuss our positions vis-à-vis Suez, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Believe unnecessary to suggest bases of President’s explaining our policies re variety of matters on which he and Nehru cannot agree: Admission Red China to UN, military bases, security pacts, military aid to Pakistan (latter three are inherent anyway in any explanation US strategic concept). We do feel, however, that President should discuss these issues in attempt to soften Nehru’s position. Also believe President should reiterate traditional American opposition to colonialism and economic imperialism and should be prepared to discuss, if raised by Nehru, present US positions on Goa, French possessions in North Africa (notably Algeria), Cyprus, Kashmir and Indochina. Feel also that he should mention that private American capital might assist India’s planning goals if Indian investment [Page 323] climate were improved by conclusion of pending treaties and some form of government-to-government investment guarantee.

Though Department has materials to brief (adequately on Nehru attitudes), following submitted as pertinent:

Pakistan: Despite presence Chou En-Lai in India, we have information from Mrs. Dutt, wife of Foreign Secretary,5 that India gravely worried about Chinese motivations and moves and suspects that Pakistan and China may in some fashion connive against Indian interests. Nehru, of course, is not convinced that Pakistan is arming against USSR or China. It would be well to repeat Secretary’s assurances to Nehru in March that US would come to Indian assistance if attacked by Pakistan. It would be better if Nehru could be convinced that US could prevent attack. Mention might be made that it is better for US to be ally of Pakistan than for some other military powers.
Red China: Difficulty of justifying American policy to Nehru is that he believes so firmly that Chinese Communists could be “morally contained” more effectively if moral conscience of world focused on them through membership in UN. President should certainly explain our tedious efforts to obtain no-use-of-force commitment from Chinese Communists in Formosa Strait. Our case against Red China’s use of hostages to further its international policies should be stressed.

Information to be sought from Nehru: In addition to recommendation that President draw Nehru into early discussion of India’s economic goals and difficulties (in realization that Indian foreign exchange crisis will require some credit by May 1957), suggest following:

Underlying rationale for Indian policy of non-alignment: Here, and against context of preparing American opinion and Congress for possibilities of long-term economic assistance, President should, we think, frankly discuss with Nehru the difficulty of providing large-scale assistance to India until and unless American opinion convinced that India and US are somewhat closer together on political problems and objectives.
Underlying rationale for Nehru’s faith in Panch Shila, so recently disregarded by USSR: Parallel between Panch Shila and UN Charter and Briand-Kellogg Pact6 might be employed to highlight necessity of our preserving military posture and deterrent capabilities. Nehru will be understandably sensitive in this area of discussion.
Indian policy re East European satellites. Here it must be remembered that India and Nehru to some extent equate satellite problem with Kashmir problem, i.e., India does have some sympathy [Page 324] with Soviet desire to secure and defend a security belt as is openly evident also by Indian attitude toward Nepal.
Evidences that India is aware of Chinese danger along her northern border and Chinese threat of subverting Nepal and Burma. We believe Nehru highly conscious and worried on these scores and sees parallel between USSR and Yenan and Red China and Nepal and Burma.
Suez and a general Middle East settlement, including Israel and the future role of USSR vis-à-vis Egypt and Syria. Nehru attitude toward Nasser as an Arab leader seeking to extend his and Egypt’s influence over all Arab states could be explored since we know Nehru is concerned with a militant pan-Islam.
Indian election forecast.

Issues to be raised by Nehru: Nehru can no doubt be relied on to raise the gamut of issues mentioned above to which no agreement can be reached and regarding which our maximum obtainable objective will be to convince him of our peaceful goals and thus ameliorate his criticism by enlarging his understanding of our motives and purposes. The big question in our minds is whether Nehru will ask specifically for US aid and whether the initiative in raising India’s acute economic problems should be left to him. We think it would be better for President to take initiative since this could be done without committing ourselves and would simultaneously pave the way to discussion of ways and means of composing policy differences toward the end of achieving a climate of opinion which would support large scale assistance to India.

It might be argued that it would be better for Nehru to stew in his juice, swallow his pride and either disclose his internal problem or fail to do so. The larger question is whether this would necessarily serve our long-range interests. If, as is assumed, we are vitally interested in preserving democratic norms in India, there must be full and frank discussion of the biggest immediate threat to those norms.

The threat, as we see it, is that India cannot (1) achieve its socio-economic goals as rapidly as China and by democratic norms in the absence of substantial foreign aid, and (2) India’s economic stability will be in jeopardy by May 1957 as result depletion of foreign exchange unless fairly immediate foreign economic assistance is forthcoming. We think what Nehru wishes most to leave India is proof that India can modernize and industrialize under democratic techniques. But, conditioned as he is with a colonial psychosis and its overtones of economic imperialism, and dismayed as he is with external and internal developments within recent months, he may be too proud to risk an impression that he visits the US with a begging bow. Nevertheless, fact that his entourage includes Five Year Plan experts indicates his preparedness for economic discussions.

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All things considered, we believe the better political and psychological approach would be for the President to open the subject rather than run risk that Nehru might raise it relatively late in the discussions and too late to permit President and Nehru and their advisors to explore subject fully.

While Nehru obviously has many subjects other than his economic difficulties which he will wish to discuss, we repeat that we think the economic development of India is the primary motivation of his external and internal policies and that perhaps best way of sharpening focus of talks, while easing Nehru’s sensitivities, would be to invite him fairly early to discuss his developmental plans and problems.

Conclusions: We feel strongly that “moment of history” has arrived which if seized and exploited, can give US much firmer anti-Communist and anti-Red China counterpoise in India. We can, as it were, redress our emphasis in Europe and on the periphery of Asia by more firmly consolidating our position with Indian land power. We think this should be possible without prejudicing our NATO and other pact relationships. If India were convinced of our enduring interest in seeing her through the critical years ahead, India might be expected to ameliorate some of her present objections to American policy, especially as regards Pakistan, SEATO, the Baghdad Pact. Risks are involved but it appears to us that the risks are greater of losing India through failure to exploit the opportunities now presented.7

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.9111/12–756. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras.
  2. When Dulles visited India in March he carried a letter with him from the President inviting Nehru to visit the United States after the Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference in London at the end of June. (Ibid., Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, Eisenhower/Dulles Correspondence with Prime Minister Nehru 1953–1961) Nehru replied in the affirmative. (Tedul 45 to Seoul, March 16; ibid., Central Files, 110.11–DU/3–1656) After Eisenhower’s attack of ileitis on June 7 and emergency surgery, it became apparent that the lengthy talks Nehru wanted might be too taxing on the President and some thought was given to postponing the visit. Another inducement to delay was the prospect that Nehru’s party might be enlarged to include Menon. Dulles told Adams that would “louse it up terribly.” (Memorandum of telephone conversation by Bernau, June 14; Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, White House Telephone Conversations) Allen, therefore, told Indian Minister Hareshwar Dayal on June 14 that the addition of Menon would “complicate the visit.” Ambassador Mehta agreed that the circumstances were not propitious for a visit and cabled Nehru to recommend a postponement. (Memorandum of conversation by Withers, June 14; Department of State, Central Files, 033.9111/6–1456; telegram 3105 to New Delhi, June 20; ibid., 033.1191/6–2056) On June 25 Eisenhower and Nehru published their correspondence delaying the latter’s visit owing to the President’s convalescence.
  3. Cooper left India on April 23 and won election to the U.S. Senate from Kentucky. Since he had enjoyed good ties with Nehru, it was resolved to have him return to India prior to the Prime Minister’s rescheduled visit in December 1956. Cooper carried a letter to Nehru from the President and was to present U.S. views on international problems and, at the same time, ascertain which subjects Nehru might wish to raise with the President. (Telegram 1304 to New Delhi, November 19; ibid., 033.1100–CO/11–1956) In his letter to Nehru dated November 27, Eisenhower stated that Cooper regretted not having had the opportunity to say farewell to his many Indian friends and would now be able to do so and would have the opportunity to discuss world affairs with the Prime Minister. (Ibid., 033.1100–CO/11–2656) Cooper spoke to Nehru on December 1, 2, and 7 and discussed the Suez and Hungarian issues, Communist China, and Pakistan. Krishnamachari and Pillai raised India’s economic problems with him. (Telegrams 1586 and 1614 from New Delhi, December 6 and December 8, respectively; ibid., 033.1100–CO/12–656 and 12–856)
  4. Chou arrived in India on November 28.
  5. Subimal Dutt.
  6. For text of the Treaty For the Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy signed at Paris on August 27, 1928, see Foreign Relations, 1928, vol. I, pp. 153157.
  7. The Embassy provided some additional comments on the impending visit of Nehru to the United States in telegram 1687 from New Delhi, December 14. Stress was placed on the need to ease Nehru’s probable apprehension that the United States would take advantage of the situation “to sell him a ‘bill of American goods’”. One way of doing this was for the President to demonstrate an interest in India’s economic difficulties and a willingness to explore means of dealing with the problem. (Department of State, Central Files, 033.9111/12–1456)