171. Instruction From the Department of State to the Diplomatic Missions in India 1



  • United States Policy With Regard to Kerala

This instruction is concerned with (1) the effect of the Communist electoral victory in Kerala on U.S. policy and operations in India, and (2) the courses of action to be followed by the country team with respect to the Communist Government in Kerala.

Effect on U.S. Policy and Operations

. . . . . . .

Although the Communist authorities in Kerala are, for tactical reasons, currently pursuing a moderate policy towards American activities in the State, there is no reason to believe that this policy will not change when the Communists determine it politically advantageous to do so. They may eventually demand the removal from their State of ICA advisors and USIS personnel, as well as to insist that all U.S. activities in these fields cease. Unless the Government of India is willing to oppose such moves by the Communists, the United States should be prepared to withdraw ICA and USIS operations from Kerala. For the present, however, no change should be made by the United States in the level of ICA activities in that State, thus avoiding any situation which would benefit the Communists, by giving them the opportunity either to allege American discrimination or to claim that they succeeded in obtaining more technical assistance than did previous State administrations. By the same token, USIS operations should be maintained at the current level to avoid either a U.S. retreat in the face of Communist opposition or charges in Kerala and elsewhere that U.S. anti-Communist propaganda has been increased to a marked degree.

U.S. Courses of Action

Obtain as complete information as possible on, and ensure continuing coverage of, events in Kerala, with particular reference to economic, political and administrative programs and tactics of the [Page 364] Communist Government, an assessment of opposition parties and their future capabilities, especially the Congress Party, and detailed information on key political figures in the State.
General: While maintaining the present level of staffs in India, all offices should make special efforts to implement the above course of action. The Embassy at New Delhi shall have primary responsibility for reporting on the attitude of Central Government and of Congress Party headquarters towards Kerala; the Consulate General at Madras shall have primary responsibility for reporting on developments within Kerala.
Politico-economic reporting by Madras Consulate General:
Selective despatch or telegraphic reporting only on most significant developments;
Preparation of a weekly (or bi-weekly at the Consulate General’s discretion) classified round-up despatch, including analytical comment where appropriate, on Kerala Government and State developments (this might later be submitted on a less frequent basis if the situation should warrant such a change);
Continuing contribution to the Embassy for inclusion in the Weeka of any important developments, which should also be covered in greater detail under 2, above; and
Submission of a bi-weekly, unclassified despatch reporting appropriate coverage of the press with respect to Kerala. (Note: Submission of similar information from other posts in India, when appropriate.)
Travel and Conduct in Kerala: It is a basic policy objective of the Communist Party of India to use every available opportunity to subvert the United States position in India. The current policy of moderation and friendliness of the Communists in Kerala towards official U.S. personnel stationed in or visiting the area is obviously designed further to establish their respectability. Contact with U.S. officials provides the Communists in Kerala with a most valuable tool to further this objective. Following a further consolidation of their position or a change in policy towards the Government of India, the Communist authorities in Kerala may well adopt a policy towards U.S. personnel involving Communist-inspired altercations between U.S. citizens and the people of Kerala, and charges of U.S. subversive activities in Kerala and interference in internal affairs. The United States must avoid taking any action which (1) contributes to the Communist effort to gain respectability, or (2) might render the U.S. vulnerable to future Communist maneuvers against U.S. personnel in the area. The following sections are designed to meet this objective:
Travel to area: Official or personal travel in the area by all U.S. Government personnel not assigned to the Consulate General at Madras is to be kept at a minimum; visits to Kerala by officers assigned to Madras should also be held to the minimum consistent with the Consulate General’s responsibilities and should, in any event, be no more frequent than visits to other States within the Madras Consular District; local employees [Page 365] of the Consulate General and USIS in Madras, under ordinary circumstances, should not be permitted to travel to Kerala on official business.
Relations with Communist Officials in Kerala: U.S. personnel travelling officially should customarily limit their courtesy calls to leaving cards on the Chief Secretary and signing the Governor’s or any other book normally signed by foreign officials visiting the State. Calls by U.S. officials visiting or stationed in Kerala on the Chief Minister and other cabinet members should be kept to an absolute minimum. Calls of a business nature should customarily be limited to Government officials of Civil Service (non-political or non-Communist) status. Calls on members of the Congress Party and other opposition groups should, for obvious reasons, be most circumspect. If invited by the Communist State Government or its officials to attend official functions, U.S. official personnel should accept. Contacts with local-level Communist officials should be held to a minimum.
Keep technical assistance, economic aid, and other associated projects for Kerala under constant review on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maintaining programs which would be identified publicly with the United States or the Government of India, ….
Within existing and proposed ceilings on economic assistance programs for India, attempt to increase economic aid, technical assistance, and other related programs in neighboring Indian States, and possibly develop new projects, which would redound to the credit of the United States, the Government of India, and those States, ….
Maintain U.S. information, exchange of persons, and related activities in Kerala at substantially the same level as at present. Fully publicize U.S. economic aid, technical assistance and other related programs in neighboring Indian States and give careful consideration to increased emphasis in appropriate information media elsewhere in India on international Communism and its implications in such newly-established and under-developed countries as India.

Maintain ICA and USIS personnel in Kerala at present levels, seeking to replace departing personnel if appropriate arrangements can be made with the Government of India.

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Urge American businessmen and other private interests who may be planning to invest or otherwise expand their operations in Kerala to proceed with caution in spite of Communist promises given them. In the United States, appropriate U.S. officials will take [Page 366] the initiative, if necessary, to ensure that U.S. citizens with business and other interests in Kerala have the fullest information possible on conditions in Kerala and on problems faced by foreign business interests operating under Communist regimes in other parts of the world.

A. Appropriate U.S. officers in New Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Madras should supply U.S. citizens with business and other interests in Kerala with information as outlined above and, in addition, should provide similar information to non-U.S. citizens who represent U.S. business or other interests in Kerala.

In reply to public inquiries, take the position that the administration of Kerala is an internal Indian matter; that the United States and its citizens are naturally interested in developments in Kerala, just as they are in all news about India; that the American private businessman is fully aware of the obvious risks of operating under a Communist regime, but is completely free to make his own decision concerning possible investment in Kerala, as elsewhere in India; that American views on Communism are well known; and that the free press in the United States can be expected to interpret developments in Kerala as it sees fit and without any intervention from official U.S. agencies.

The Department will appreciate receiving occasional reports from the Ambassador on his plans to implement this instruction and periodic reviews from the Embassy on the country team’s efforts to carry out the courses of action outlined above. While the Consulates General should continue to forward information concerning Kerala developments to the Department in accordance with course of action No. I, information relating to the other courses of action should be sent to the Embassy at New Delhi for inclusion in the periodic progress reports to be submitted to the Department.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.91/8–157. Secret; Limited Distribution (at discretion of Ambassador and Principal Officers). Sent to Madras, Calcutta, Bombay, and New Delhi.