218. Telegram 347 From the Embassy in India to the Department of State1 2


  • Comments on Department’s Proposals for Response to Mrs. Gandhi


  • State 003633

1. If India-US relations follow the pattern that has evolved since my arrival here, we can expect a period of restraint by the GOI. This will be accompanied by peaceful overtures and encouragement of joint activities. A new and more acceptable Ambassador to the US will probably be appointed and he will profess great admiration for the US and refer often to “sister democracies” and ask for continued aid. The meetings of joint sub commissions will be encouraged and business collaboration suggested.

2. Basically nothing will change and the PM will use the US when it suits her political convenience. She will attack the US if the CPI becomes critical of her for liberalizing her economic policies, if she needs to appease the Congress left, if she wishes to please the Soviets or if Bangladesh, US arms sales or anything else bothers her.

3. If we adopt a vociferous hard line in face of this posture it will reflect poorly on the US and accomplish little. What may work is a general and continued slowing down of contacts and cooperation and a constant pressure on my part to the PM and those in contact with her which puts the question, “why should we be helpful when you distrust us and blame us for your problems?” This I will do.

4. I agree with the slow-down in handling of PL480 and direct aid. We should not entirely cut off our offer of aid, which would recall our confrontation in 1971, but should instead delay negotiations in FY 1976 until the last possible date and then offer a “disappointingly” small amount (perhaps 10–20 million). I also suggest we be more aggressive on PanAm question and Air India’s landing rights in US. If joint subcommissions are to meet, keep US participants at low level, drop out conclusions, limit commitments, ask hard questions and demand firm answers.

5. As to the immediate questions, I have asked Senator McGovern and he has agreed to ask the PM in a private meeting tomorrow for specific incidents of USG interference in India’s affairs and to take the position that as a long-time friend of India he is greatly distressed at GOI attitude if we are being used in a game of “ducks and drakes.” We shall report on his meeting.

6. I agree that other direct and stronger means would not achieve our purpose to reduce the amount of un-friendly talk; but there are subtle means of getting the message across that until such unjustified attacks are brought to a halt India can expect little or nothing from USG. This approach will fail, however, if efforts continue to give India every possible break in trade accommodation, airline monopoly and easy exchange of S&T knowledge. The State Department must insist that all contacts for benefits to India must clear through it and very deliberately set a policy of restraint and caution. Then if we find that Mrs. Gandhi doesn’t care, we can further cut back on what we are doing accordingly.

7. When I receive instructions I will seek an early appointment with Chavan. There has been no formal request for continuation of site, only casual suggestions, so I will not raise this until such time as they make a request. I can see no benefit of my recall for consultation but believe I can be more useful here talking to the few people that have her ear; I am not sure that Chavan is one of this group.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Secret; Niact Immediate; Stadis. McGovern met with Prime Minister Gandhi on January 9 and did not receive any specific allegations of U.S. interference. The Embassy in India summarized and commented on their meeting in telegrams 500 and 501 from New Delhi, January 10. (Ibid.)
  2. Ambassador Saxbe recommended that the United States withhold, limit, and delay joint cooperative projects, including foreign aid as a means of demonstrating official U.S. displeasure at occasional vociferous public criticism of the United States in India. Saxbe also indicated that he would ask United States Senator George McGovern to request from Prime Minister Gandhi specific citations of U.S. interference in Indian affairs during his upcoming meeting with her.