53. Telegram 34382 From the Department of State to the Embassy in India1 2

[Page 1]


  • New Delhi 2505.

For Ambassador Keating from Secretary.

1. Please see Foreign Minister Dinesh Singh at earliest convenience and deliver following oral message from me:

I appreciate ForMin’s sending me the Government of India’s rationale for closing down cultural centers.
Unfortunately, I did not find his letter persuasive on the point which most concerned me, i.e. statements in Parliament alleging that cultural centers were engaging in “political and other undesirable activities”. Placing such allegations on the record at a time when the only cultural centers being closed (the Soviet center had been closed several months previously) were American centers was bound to lead to the inevitable concluson that our centers were the sole object of this most unfortunate reference. This conclusion, it should be noted, was reached by the press in both India and the United States and undoubtedly remains in the Indian public mind as well. Therefore, [Page 2] I find it difficult to explain this occurrence as a “misunderstanding”. He would have been pleased to remove any basis for misunderstanding on his part regarding our cultural centers, but were precluded from doing so by lack of prior consultation before their closure was ordered.
As long as such allegations remain on record, I am concerned that doubts will remain in the Indian public mind—doubts which will cast suspicions on our other USIS operations in India and could cast a cloud in other areas as well.
Consequently, I would hope ForMin would be willing to issue public statement absolving us of “any political or other undesirable activiies” in US cultural centers. (FYI—If he demurs on this suggestion, as fallback position, you might suggest that our exchange of corespondence be made public. End FYI) Such public statement would help considerably to clear the record and remove the impression that the statements in the Indian Parliament were directed at US cultural centers.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 596, Country Files, Middle East, India, Vol. II, 10/69–8/70. Confidential; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Van Hollen; revised in S by Herbert S. Okun and Rogers; cleared by Sisco, and Alan Carter, Assistant Director for Near East and South Asia (USIA); and approved by Rogers.
  2. Secretary Rogers instructed Ambassador Keating to see Indian Foreign Minister Singh to ask him to issue a public statement absolving the U.S. of any “political or other undesirable activities” in the cultural centers.