294. Telegram 9254 From the Embassy in India to the Department of State1 2


  • Farewell to India
I made farewell calls yesterday for over two hours consecutively on President Giri, Prime Minister Gandhi and Foreign Minister Swaran Singh. It was a memorable, at times heartening, but overall profoundly disturbing experience. The calls scheduled at GOI initiative left me with the feeling that I had been given what I can only describe as qte the Indian treatment unqte. Whether by accident or design, I was first warmed and relaxed at the affable Giri, then rudely pummeled and goaded by the Madam, and finally brain-washed by the great rationalizer Swaran Singh. It was quite an experience, and I am reporting each conversation separately in some detail.
I had prepared carefully for these calls planning to take the longer and broader view of prospects for Indo-American relations and emphasize the importance of cultural exchange and commercial relations. The President accepted and elaborated on my points exuberantly. I left him in a warm glow buoyed by the evidence that there remains in India a reservoir of good will for the US and staunch friends in positions of influence if not policy control. Little did I realize the hornet’s nest that awaited me in the Prime Minister’s office.
The reporting cable of my discussion with Mrs. Gandhi records the litany of vague, emotional and distorted allegations leveled by her against the US, as well as the apparently calculated rudeness of her demeanor. Mere recording, however, does not suffice to explain that fantastic performance, which I am [Page 2] forced to conclude was the real Indira, and to a considerable extent the real India, showing through starkly, but consistent with longstanding and deep-seated attitudes toward white, affluent, foreign, great power, American (and not only American) influence in Asia. Simply put, Indira and India are predisposed for historical and psychological reasons to place the worst possible interpretation upon US policies, to take a conspiratorial view of US activities and to embrace a qte devil theory unqte rationalization for their own inadequacies in the face of admittedly massive problems of economic, social, and political development. Granted, Indira and India believe they have recent cause in US policy responses to the South Asian crisis to suspect the US. It is, however, educative to recall that such suspicions were held and ocassionally expressed well before the eruption of Bangladesh. Thus, while the Prime Minister probably was loaded for my call, by influential advisors unfriendly to the US, she and at least her fellow Indian intellectuals are particularly susceptible to that kind of stuffing.
My discussion with the Foreign Minister was of course a welcome contrast to that with Mrs. Gandhi. As always, Swaran Singh was courteous, personally cordial and apparently candid. He readily accepted my proposition that the absence of direct conflicts of interest and easing of third party differences should augur well for Indo-American relations. He also struggled admirably to interpret my encounter with the Prime Minister as the beginning of an essential Indo-American dialogue. I would like to think so, but doubt that castigation such as I was subjected to by the Prime Minister should be dignified as dialogue. Any event, it is mildly reassuring to note that pragmatism and reasonableness, as exemplified by Swaran Singh, are also at work in the perplexing psychology of Indian policy.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL INDIA-US. Confidential; Exdis. Keating left his post on July 26. The post remained vacant until Daniel Patrick Moynihan was appointed on February 8, 1973.
  2. Ambassador Keating reported on his farewell calls on Indian President Giri, Indian Prime Minister Gandhi, and Indian Foreign Minister Singh. Keating was given what he described as “the Indian treatment”: “I was first warmed and relaxed by the affable Giri, then rudely pummeled and goaded by the madam, and finally brain-washed by the great rationalizer Swaran Singh.”