Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi meets President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Oval Office, March 28, 1966.
Yoichi Okamoto

As in many other parts of the world, the interests of the Soviet Union and the United States in India are widely assumed to be in "conflict." To what extent is this conflict genuine, and what are the implications for Asia in general and South Asia in particular?

America and Russia have each made major contributions to India's economic development. The United States has helped rebuild and modernize India's railroads, contributed 60 percent of the capital for India's power development, helped build and staff eight agricultural universities, provided nearly 40 million tons of foodgrains, printed millions of books for Indian schools, published four excellent magazines to help Indians better understand America, provided thousands of American technicians and made it possible for thousands of Indians to go to America for training and advanced education. The size of the U.S. Peace Corps in India has been double that in any other nation.

Although the Soviet economic investment in India is considerably less, it has been substantial. The U.S.S.R. has helped expand the production of steel and heavy electrical equipment and has provided close to one billion dollars to modernize India's army, navy and air force. Both the United States and the U.S.S.R. have, in addition, sent to India a steady stream of singers, musicians, and cultural exhibits, the number of Soviet programs being at least double our own. Both have large embassies in New Delhi.

Although Soviet and American activities and programs in India are somewhat similar, the political objectives and tactics have differed sharply. Let us first consider the U.S.S.R.

When Nazi Germany invaded the U.S.S.R. in June 1941, the promotion of Lenin's doctrine of worldwide revolution was muted and communist parties abroad were directed to focus all their energies on winning the war. This forced the Communist Party of India to coöperate with the British colonial government and largely to dissociate itself at a crucial moment from the struggle for independence. The reaction of the non-communist Indian leaders and the tens of millions who supported them was bitter. When official Soviet organs attacked Gandhi as a "reactionary Hindu" and depicted Nehru as the "Chiang Kaishek of India," the gap seemed unbridgeable.

After Stalin's death in March 1953, however, the Soviets began to ease their harsh line. In August of that year Malenkov spoke warmly of India's contribution to ending the Korean War and expressed the view that Indo- Soviet relations would "continue to develop and grow in strength." Contrary to the general impression, Nehru himself during this period had few illusions about the objectives of the Soviet Union and its leadership in India. A few days after Stalin's death, the Prime Minister described Stalin to me as "the coldest human being" he had ever met.

This shift in the Soviet mood coincided with John Foster Dulles' decision in 1954 to provide military equipment to Pakistan and convinced a reluctant Nehru that India should accept some assistance from Russia to "keep its options open." In 1955 the first Soviet loan agreement for Indian economic development was signed. On February 21, 1956, the Soviet Union agreed to finance and build India one of the most modern steel mills in Asia at a cost of $140,000,000.

Although the outside world had no clear indication of the growing differences between China and Russia until a few years later, the possibility of a split must have been apparent to Soviet leaders by the mid- 1950s.[i]

When the break actually occurred in the late 1950s, Soviet assistance to India was sharply increased. Yet even when the Chinese-Indian conflict occurred in October-November 1962, Soviet leaders, still clinging no doubt to the hope that a tolerable relationship with China might be reëstablished, at first held back. Only when Khrushchev and his colleagues became persuaded that a rapprochement was no longer possible did India begin to receive its present high priority from Soviet policymakers.

While the U.S.S.R. certainly hoped for some additional dividends-India's support for Soviet foreign policy generally, the expansion of the "Socialist camp," etc.-the motivation of the U.S.S.R. in assisting India has since the mid-1950s been primarily based on the Soviet estimation of India's geopolitical importance as a partial balance to the political influence and potential military weight of China.

II

The United States Government, however, has never considered India to be of major political significance to the future of Asia. Our policies in India, like our policies elsewhere in Asia, have been the product of strangely diverse considerations, a fact which has not only confused most Americans but also many Asians. On the one hand, those who have been setting our policies have consistently failed to understand the political forces which are shaping Asia and to appreciate the limits of traditional military power in dealing with these forces. On the other hand, many of our actions have taken place within a framework of genuine idealism. Thus India has been seen as an impoverished nation struggling bravely but probably futilely to govern itself through democratic institutions, which for humanitarian reasons we have felt obligated to assist.

Our generally warm feelings for the Indian people and our concern for their welfare became evident in the 1930s and 1940s as the American people watched India's nonviolent struggle for independence under the leadership of Gandhi. During World War II, Roosevelt repeatedly pressed Churchill to agree to India's independence as soon as the war was over; indeed, two of Roosevelt's personal representatives in India supported Indian independence so openly that the British asked that they be removed.

When India became independent in 1947, the energies of the United States were largely focused on the economic and security problems of Western Europe. But in mid-1951, we provided India with two million tons of wheat, and in December of that year, during my first tour as Ambassador to India, I signed with Nehru the first developmental assistance agreement-an outright grant of $54,000,000 to assist Indian development. Since that time the United States has contributed $8 billion in loans and grants to bolster India's economy and to help feed its people.

Paradoxically, we have provided this massive assistance to a nation which most of our harassed top policy-makers in the State Department, White House, Pentagon and Congress have visited only briefly or in many cases have never seen, and of which consequently they have had only a limited knowledge and a hazy understanding. The Bureau of Near East-South Asia Affairs, which has jurisdiction over our relations with India, stretches all the way from the India-Burma border to Libya. Understandably, the time of its key officials has largely been absorbed by the explosive Middle East. The average number of Representatives and Senators visiting India each year during my eight years there as Ambassador was nine-most of them for relatively short visits in and around the large cities.

Lacking firsthand knowledge of the complexities of Indian society and the hopes and fears of its people, it is not surprising that the Kiplingesque impression of India as an ancient land of cobras, maharajahs, monkeys, famines, polo players, overcrowded with cows and babies, still persists in the minds of many top officials in our government.

A relatively small number of able South Asia specialists in our universities have worked diligently to fill this information gap. But most of our "Asia specialists" are in fact Chinese, Japanese or Southeast Asia specialists; very few of them have had an opportunity really to know and understand India and to consider its relations to the rest of Asia.

The assumption that by giving India economic assistance we are at least assured of its friendship and hopefully of its support has generated reactions in New Delhi that have further confused our relations. The nationalistic leaders of India, as in most developing nations, are determined to demonstrate that they are now masters in their own house. When they assert their independence by refusing to see the world as our government sees it, leaders within the Administration and Congress have become by stages puzzled, frustrated, hurt and angered.

As a consequence, many overburdened officials in the State Department and White House have gradually lapsed into the comfortable rationalization that no matter how much assistance is given to India, its poverty is probably too deep and its population too vast to enable it to become a stable, viable nation. Only the fact that India is by far the largest underdeveloped nation, with the exception of China, and has somehow maintained in the world a democratic government for a quarter of a century, has enabled it to retain even its present precarious position on the back burners in the State Department and White House.

III

In 1963 the decisive factor in my decision to return to India as Ambassador was the conviction that in this role I might be able to contribute to the long overdue reorientation of our policies not only in India but in Asia. While skillfully marshalled arguments may establish doubts about the wisdom of an existing policy, it has been my experience that a policy itself is unlikely to be changed unless a major event shatters old relationships and forces a reëxamination of existing assumptions. The coincidence of four major events involving the Soviet Union, China, India and Japan, was, I thought, creating precisely such an opportunity.

These were the continuing split between the Soviet Union and China; the China-India conflict in 1962 which brought Nehru's efforts to create a live- and-let-live relationship with China to an abrupt end; the rise of Japan to become the world's third industrial power; and the beginnings of our blundering military involvement in Southeast Asia. The combination of these four "happenings," I felt, might force our government to reconsider its Asia policies as a whole and to give a higher priority to the one-seventh of mankind who live in India.

The promptness with which we responded to India's appeal for help following the Chinese attack in October 1962 seemed to reflect the new sense of priorities for which I had hoped. The emergency shipments of $70,000,000 worth of military equipment which we airlifted to India within a few days after Nehru's appeal reached Washington, was at the time assumed to be only the first step in the modernization of India's military forces. The Indian request for $500,000,000 of military assistance to be spent over a period of five years was less than half of what we had already given Pakistan. However, the old Dullesian arguments soon began to be raised again in the State Department and Pentagon, i.e. if we helped India even moderately to build up its defense capacity, we would upset our "loyal ally," Pakistan.[ii]

At first I was hesitant about India's request but for quite a different reason. Since World War II, most of our military assistance outside Europe, I felt, had been given not for legitimate purposes of defense but in effect as a bribe to persuade the recipient governments to support U.S. foreign policy. Once started, such assistance was hard to stop; sometimes we became political captives of the nations we were striving to defend.

I was convinced, however, that the situation in regard to India was radically different. Nehru clearly was not for sale and India's defense needs were very real. Its 2,500-mile long border with China had recently been breached by Chinese troops, and in addition there were 600 miles of border with Burma, which was in a state of general unrest. Although Pakistan's army, air force and navy had largely been equipped and trained by the United States, Pakistan had verbally supported the Chinese attack on India in 1962 and could not be depended upon to remain neutral if the Chinese should attack again. Under these circumstances our refusal to assist India while we continued heavily to support Pakistan seemed indefensible.

Moreover, in view of its recent clash with China, India was determined to modernize its defenses by one means or another. If we were not prepared to meet its legitimate security needs, I believed that India would turn, however reluctantly, to the Soviet Union. With Soviet concern over China growing, the response to Soviet advances would almost certainly be affirmative.

The possibility of this chain of events was rejected by almost everyone in the State Department, Pentagon and White House. India, it was assumed, had no place to go but to the United States. President Kennedy, however, seemed to agree with my view and asked me to explore the situation with Prime Minister Nehru and his associates immediately after my arrival in India in July. I should then return to Washington for further discussions with him.

In the summer and fall I had a series of long talks with Nehru, Defense Minister Yeshwantrao Chavan and other Indian officials not only about their own military security problems vis-à-vis China, but also about their willingness to take a greater measure of responsibility for the stability of Asia as a whole. In mid-November I left for the United States with a tentative understanding with the Indian Government in my briefcase. Quite unexpectedly, Nehru, who had been emotionally shattered by the recent Chinese attack, had volunteered to support a genuine effort by our government to negotiate a political settlement that could end the fighting in Southeast Asia. (This was before U.S. ground forces became directly involved in Vietnam.) He was also prepared to negotiate a ceiling on military expenditures with Pakistan. With this evidence of a new coöperative mood in New Delhi and with the President's backing, the way appeared to be open not only for a constructive relationship with India but even, with a bit of luck, a negotiated settlement in Southeast Asia.

However, these hopes were soon dashed. Kennedy's assassination six days after my arrival in Washington and Nehru's death six months later, in May 1964, when our government and an Indian negotiating team were on the verge of an agreement, resulted first in delay and finally in a decision by the Johnson Administration to postpone further consideration until the "situation had been clarified."

Three months later, the same Indian negotiating team visited Moscow and returned to New Delhi with all they had asked for, and more. Today India's 28 divisions, its 700-plane air force and its small but competent navy are largely supplied with Soviet equipment. It would be a mistake to exaggerate the political implications of the Soviet role as principal military supplier to the Indian defense force. But I believe that a major opportunity to use our own military assistance to promote greater political stability in Asia was missed.

IV

Because of the Soviet Union's greater awareness of India's potential role in Asia, Soviet operations in India are much more closely directed by the Foreign Office in Moscow than U.S. operations are directed by the State Department in Washington. As a result there has been a profound difference in tactics and in style between the Soviet and U.S. operations in India, which in spite of the continued indifference of Washington officialdom has helped keep our relationship with India on a reasonably even keel.

Most American embassies throughout the world are tied tightly to Washington by a combination of fixed policies, highly developed communications systems and frequent two-way visits. The embassy in New Dehli has been in a quite different category. There have been no clear national policies to guide its day-to-day operations. It is 10,000 miles from Washington and thus far, blessedly free of a modern telephone communication link. Most important of all, for the better part of 20 years it has been run by a series of independent-minded, politically expendable, noncareer Ambassadors who generally have had the support of the lower-level India specialists in the State Department.[iii]

Each of these Ambassadors travelled widely throughout India, and came to know on a personal basis most Indian leaders, and each spoke regularly to groups of college students, businessmen, educators and economists. Moreover, while not always in agreement with the policies of the Indian Government, each of them genuinely liked the Indian people. Their effectiveness was increased by the fact that they were supported by able staffs, most of whom shared their views.

Lacking clear policy direction from Washington, our remote and comparatively isolated embassy in New Dehli has within certain limits been able, independently and unofficially, to establish a less rigid set of goals. For instance, there has been a continuing effort to increase India's confidence in itself, to encourage India to broaden its perspectives on Asia and to understand U.S. difficulties in dealing with unfamiliar world problems. The New Delhi embassy has also consistently and with considerable success resisted pressures from Washington to use U.S. economic assistance as a lever to force India to see the world as we see it. In my eight years as Ambassador to India, I can remember no occasion when the State Department told me what to say or questioned any public statement I made.

The understanding and often close relations established with many Indian citizens and leaders by members of the American mission have been strengthened by nonofficial groups such as the American women's clubs in major cities which have taken an active role in social welfare projects and developed a genuine appreciation of Indian culture, religion and language. The several thousand impressive young Peace Corps Volunteers, who have served in India for an average stay of two years, and the 8,000 Indian students who attend American universities every year further strengthen these ties.

As a result, a great deal of common ground has been created in the last 20 years among influential Indians and Americans. Most Indians both in and outside the government remain critical of U.S. Government policies on such questions as Vietnam or East Pakistan, but with a few notable exceptions they have liked and respected Americans as individuals.

Since the Soviets devote a major share of their budget and manpower in India to an attempt to create distrust of America and Americans, the rapport to which I refer has been an important and perhaps decisive factor in keeping Indo-American relations relatively smooth. The Soviet effort to break these bonds and to turn the Indian people and government against the United States involves every device from forged letters to blistering attacks and accusations by Soviet-financed newspapers such as Blitz, Patriot, Link, and Radio Peace and Progress, which is specially beamed into India from Moscow. No doubt this effort has made an impression on some Indians. But because it is hard for most Indians to believe that the Americans they see and know are "imperialists" and "war mongers scheming to undermine India's independence," it has fallen far short of its objective.

The reasons for the persistence and intensity of the Soviet effort are unclear. Many believe that it reflects widely differing views of world affairs within the Soviet bureaucracy. In New Delhi, for instance, there are almost certainly deep differences between the younger and more modern- minded Soviet diplomats and those members of the KGB who still believe that Lenin's "revolution of the working classes" is in fact just around the corner. Similarly, some U.S. officials in the Pentagon and State Department still feel more at home with the rhetoric and tactics of the cold war.

Soviet activities in India have been further complicated by the fact that the original Communist Party of India has split into at least three sections. First, there is the Communist Party of India (CPI), which makes a determined effort to appear responsible and to coöperate with other "Socialist" parties. This group is largely financed by and directed from Moscow. It is small and compact, and therefore a less obvious target for criticism. But for that very reason it may have a greater potential influence than most people suspect.

The tactics of the CPI following Mrs. Gandhi's election in March 1971 have been shrewd. The first step was the announcement and later the introduction into Parliament of an appealing program to promote greater economic and social justice which generally reflects the liberal philosophy on which Mrs. Gandhi based her sweeping victory. If the new Congress Party adopts or supports all or part of such a program, the CPI can claim credit; if it fails to adopt the proposals, the CPI can charge that Mrs. Gandhi is still in the grip of the "reactionaries."

In addition, there is the Communist Party-Marxist (CPM) which came close to winning a majority in the recent West Bengal State Assembly elections. The CPM might be considered a Maoist party if it were not for the fact that it is momentarily in the Peking doghouse because of its persistent attempt to work within India's parliamentary process. Finally, there are the Naxalites, an extremist left-wing group which does not fit into any clear ideological pattern but which believes in ruthless violence and destruction as the necessary basis of revolutionary change.

Many observers in India are convinced that the differences among these three communist-marxist parties are more a matter of the timing of the "inevitable" revolutionary uprising than of actual ideology. However, I suspect that at least some of the differences run much deeper. This raises the question of whether Moscow really wants a communist India which, whatever its immediate advantages, would lead to further fragmentation of the communist "camp" and place an added burden on the juggling abilities of Soviet officials and ideologists.

V

What is the reaction of India to the lavish attentions it has been receiving from the world's two most powerful nations? Most Indians have become ever more disenchanted with the price that the Soviets have asked them to pay in terms of national dignity and sovereignty for their continued support and assistance. But because of their greatly increased fear of China, they now find themselves closer to Moscow than they really want to be.

India's decision in 1968 to abstain on the United Nations resolution vote in the Security Council condemning the Soviet Union for its invasion of Czechoslovakia illustrates its dilemma. If India had voted for the resolution, Mrs. Gandhi and her colleagues were convinced that there would be a dangerous slowdown in the flow of ammunition and spare parts from the Soviet Union for the Indian army, navy and air force. Consequently, India felt forced to abstain on an issue which had aroused strong feelings among most Indians.

The position of the U.S.S.R. in India has also been damaged by the high- handed manner in which Soviet representatives often negotiate economic and commercial agreements. Three or four years ago large headlines in Indian newspapers announced that the Soviets had agreed to buy 50,000 Indian-built railroad cars. However, when the bargaining began it became apparent that the euphoria was not justified. The Soviet price was far below the Indian cost price and as a result the deal fell through.

Nor is America wholly free of the charge of taking advantage of India's difficulties. During India's food crisis of 1965-66, President Johnson rather obviously attempted to use our wheat shipments to persuade India to take a more tolerant view of our military activities in Vietnam. Determined to demonstrate their sovereignty, the Indians predictably stepped up their criticisms of our bombing of North Vietnam. Angered, President Johnson responded by slowing down our wheat shipments at the very moment when they were most needed. This left scars.

Another factor in the relations among the three countries is India's increasing disenchantment with the heavy influx of "experts" from both nations. Not all of them-Russian or American-have been as capable as their Indian counterparts, and in some cases they have been insensitive to their surroundings and to Indian attitudes. Often India has accepted technical assistance from both the United States and the Soviet Union more to satisfy the donors than because of actual need.

VI

The remaining years of the twentieth century will be years of continuing unrest. In Africa, Latin America and Asia, corrupt governments, the pressure of college graduates without jobs, and the demands of the millions who work the land and operate the new industrial machinery to obtain a larger share of the wealth which they produce, will open wide the door for revolutionary change. Under these circumstances it is unrealistic to expect either the Soviet Union or China to forgo their professed revolutionary objectives. Nevertheless, the strength of Soviet and Chinese nationalism, with the two nations facing each other along a 5,000-mile border, coupled with the fact that the Russian Revolution is now more than 50 years old and is gradually losing its original fervor, suggests that they will follow quite different strategies.

The Soviet interest in India is only one facet, though a major one, in the Soviet effort to expand its influence throughout Asia. The increased Soviet naval force in the Mediterranean, the intense desire of the Soviets to reopen the Suez Canal and the presence of Soviet naval units in the Indian Ocean are reflections of this effort.

In June 1969, the General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, Leonid Brezhnev, noted in a speech at the World Communist Party Conference in Moscow, "We are of the opinion that the course of events is putting on the agenda the task of creating a system of collective security in Asia." This assertion has not officially been amplified, and consequently every government in Asia has been interpreting it in a different way. India's reaction to Brezhnev's statement was cautious: Mrs. Gandhi discreetly let it be known that India would prefer a nonalliance security agreement composed of Asian states, guaranteed by both Russia and America.

However, a key to Brezhnev's meaning appeared in advance of his speech in an article in Izvestia in May 1969, in which it was asserted that the same countries which have won their freedom from colonialism "will strengthen the peace by their own joint opposition to expansion and imperialism." The forces of "expansion" to which Brezhnev referred were clearly the Chinese, who were charged with harboring designs against a number of Asian countries. Peking promptly responded by accusing Brezhnev of "fishing in the dung heap of imperialism."

The U.S.S.R. is seeking to "contain" what it believes to be an expansionist- minded China-much as we have been trying to do-by associating whatever Asian nations can be persuaded to coöperate in a loose political organization under its leadership. When asked, "What is the basis of Soviet foreign policy in Asia?" a Soviet official recently replied with an eye to America's pullback from Asia, "We simply occupy the empty seats." But the U.S.S.R.-like China-is no more likely to succeed in forging such an association than we have been. The increasingly nationalistic Asians have no design to become the tail of the kite of any nation no matter how great its military power or how generous its offers of economic assistance.

Right now both the Soviet Union and India are concerned about the political thaw between the United States and China and the implications of China's support of the right-wing government in West Pakistan. The apparent easing of the Chinese attitude toward the United States is seen by many observers as the first step in a long-range Chinese program calculated to strengthen China's position in South Asia and eventually in Africa at the expense of the U.S.S.R., India and the United States.

A Soviet official with a touch of geopolitical paranoia might visualize the following sequence of events:

1. The Chinese, convinced that the United States is in fact prepared to withdraw from Southeast Asia and concerned about their own confrontation with the U.S.S.R., may seize upon the opportunity to establish a degree of rapport with the United States which might be useful to both nations in a number of ways.

2. If President Nixon will agree not only to pull all U.S. troops out of Southeast Asia but our air force and naval units as well (a move that would be warmly welcomed by most Americans, including leaders of Congress), China might seek to persuade the Hanoi government to release American prisoners and to take a more flexible position in the peace negotiations with the United States. This would serve the interests of both China and the United States and perhaps enable China to expand its trade with the United States and to ensure entrance into the United Nations, with the possibility that ultimately some degree of coöperation with the United States in regard to Pakistan and even the Soviet-Chinese conflict might become possible.

3. But a possible settlement of the conflict in Southeast Asia is only one aspect of a complex situation. China (ping-pong diplomacy to the contrary) believes that "the four seas are raging, the five continents are rocking," and its government may be expected to maintain its militarily cautious but politically aggressive revolutionary course.

A primary Chinese objective is the establishment of a solid Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. This would enable China to outflank the U.S.S.R. (as well as the United States) and move thousands of miles closer to East Africa, a potentially rich and underpopulated area, in which for several years Peking has been taking an increasing interest. No one believes that the Chinese at the present time are prepared to run a serious risk of war in pursuit of this objective, but it is widely believed to be a major part of Chinese global strategy. According to Indian sources, 13,500 Chinese are now working in East Africa. There is also some fear that China may provide support to small guerrilla groups in Iran as they already have done in Oman. As a measure of its concern, India's leading China expert has recently been assigned to East Africa.

4. The present conflict in East Pakistan affords the Chinese an opportunity to move cautiously toward this goal. The fighting has placed an impossible burden on Pakistan's economy. With or without the Eastern wing, it will soon be in a state of near bankruptcy and in need of massive assistance. By supporting West Pakistan and by working with pro-Chinese Pakistani politicians, China will strive to establish a strong and eventually dominant presence there. With Sheik Mujibur Rahman removed from the scene, East Pakistan would also offer an opportunity for a new Maoist-oriented leadership. (India looks upon this latter possibility with particular alarm since it would almost certainly bring the Maoists in both East Pakistan and the CPM in West Bengal into a close association. This would create heavy pressures for an independent united Bengal, which would not only present another tempting target to the Chinese but would threaten the unity of India itself.)

This scenario may turn out to be no more than a bad dream, but there is no question that at the present moment many Soviet as well as Indian leaders are dreaming it-including some who are not normally subject to paranoia. The skeptics who dismiss it as farfetched are likely to be reminded that in the last 20 years several equally "impossible" developments have occurred in Asia: for instance, the sudden collapse of colonial rule, the dramatic emergence of Japan as the world's third-ranking industrial power, the disruption of the Sino-Soviet bloc and America's involvement in a major undeclared war in Southeast Asia in which nearly as many Americans have been killed as in World War I.

Far from being inevitably locked in a relentless confrontation, Russia and America have many problems, worries and objectives in common. By now each should have discovered that its own capacity to influence India and Asia is strictly limited. We have learned this lesson the hard way, and the generally cautious leaders of the U.S.S.R. are unlikely to repeat our folly.

With the passage of time (perhaps with an unexpected assist from some new "happening"), we may hope that the Soviets will abandon their present ineffective cold warring in India and put aside their nostalgic Leninist dream of a Soviet-dominated world, and that ultimately even the Chinese ideologists will come to see that their efforts to fish in troubled waters of South Asia and Africa are unproductive and dangerous.

As for the United States it is still not too late for us to bring our policies in Asia and particularly in India into line with the realities. Some steps we might take are as follows:

1. As an essential first step, the policy-making officials in the State Department and in the White House must broaden their perspective on India and its potential role in Asia. The following reorganization within the State Department would do much to accomplish this: (a) A new Mediterranean Bureau would include North Africa, the Middle East areas and Afghanistan and Pakistan; (b) A new South and Southeast Asia Bureau would include, in addition to the Southeast Asian States, India, Ceylon and (if it manages to become an independent nation) Bangla Desh (East Pakistan); (c) A new East Asia and Pacific Bureau would include Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, China and Korea.

2. The State Department should schedule regular in-depth visits to India and South Asia not only by its own key policy makers but by other government officials who are called upon directly or indirectly to deal with questions involving India.

3. All U.S. military aid to Pakistan should be stopped immediately. It can only lead to a comparable build-up in the Indian military, a reduced rate of development and the recurring possibility of war. Our lavish arming of Pakistan since 1954 will surely be considered by historians as one of our major follies. Until the political situation clarifies, economic assistance to Pakistan should be concentrated on the rehabilitation and relief of East Pakistan.

4. America, Russia and India should not only attempt to arrive at better understandings of one another, but also of China. Such understanding and the more responsible and constructive policies that may grow out of it are the long-term pre requisites for peace and more rapid economic development throughout Asia. A military conflict between the U.S.S.R. and China could be the ultimate disaster for mankind. We should therefore refrain from any temptation to play China and the Soviet Union against each other.

5. We should assure Mrs. Gandhi and her new government of whatever assistance, with no political strings, is necessary to support her effort to better the lot of the Indian people and to ensure the economic growth and stability of India. Unquestionably the newly elected government under Mrs. Gandhi's direction means business, but India's resources are strained to the breaking point.

Part of this assistance could be provided by a ten-year moratorium on the payments of principal and interest which India is now making on debts to the Western consortium nations including the United States and the World Bank. Next year these payments will total more than $600 million in hard currency.

By helping Mrs. Gandhi's new government to deal successfully with India's current internal problems we can help ensure the viability and political effectiveness of this cohesive democratic nation. With a population equal to that of Latin America and Africa combined, with a remarkable degree of political resiliency and depth of culture and with an effective administrative structure run by a generally competent civil service, an independent, confident India can play a major role in the stabilization of post-Vietnam Asia.

[i] In February 1957, shortly before the Soviet-Chinese break became evident, I had a lengthy discussion with Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow, most of which centered on India and China. When I remarked that both the Soviet Union and the United States might ultimately face a common problem in regard to China, he did not disagree.

[ii] For several years Pakistan had been manipulating American policies in Asia with a skill matched only by that of the Nationalist Chinese.

[iii] I refer to Ambassadors John Sherman Cooper, Ellsworth Bunker, John Kenneth Galbraith and myself.

You are reading a free article.

Subscribe to Foreign Affairs to get unlimited access.

  • Paywall-free reading of new articles and a century of archives
  • Unlock access to iOS/Android apps to save editions for offline reading
  • Six issues a year in print, online, and audio editions
Subscribe Now