NOVEMBER 10, 1951
PARIS, Friday—I have just read in the newspaper here that our new Ambassador to India, Chester Bowles, had succeeded in holding a very satisfactory interview with the Indian press. They felt he was frank in his answers, and apparently he has begun what may be a very good relationship. This can be important to him, as the Indian press can do much to help the United States Ambassador to play a popular and useful role. Mr. Bowles will always be sincere and he has never lacked courage. He will also, I am sure, make every effort to understand the people of India and their leaders.
Look Magazine has sent me an article from its current issue by the sister of Prime Minister Nehru of India, Madame Krishna Nehru Hutheesing, entitled, "A Gentle Rebuke From India." She does me the honor to single me out for mention very kindly, but she attributes to me certain beliefs which I must disclaim.
I certainly never meant even to imply that India was godless, as she says I have done. I consider the people of India among the most religious people in the world, and whatever I said must have been stupidly stated if it conveyed the impression that I thought either the Prime Minister or leaders of India, or the Indian people, themselves, were godless.
I have never been to India and I can claim no knowledge of the country. I have had the privilege of meeting the Prime Minister four times. Each time he made a great impression on me. Even when you admire a statesman greatly, you do not always think that every policy he advocates is wise. I have watched a great many statesmen in my day and I have often disagreed with individual actions, even of those whom I believed had the highest and best motives.
I should like to have a talk with Madame Hutheesing because I think she simplified somewhat the questions before the world and the nations of the world. She states frankly the Indian economic problem so far as its results are felt in India, but I do not think she analyzes the causes clearly.
She states the fear of war, and I understand well the desire that India should be helped with practical and technical assistance and not be plunged into war. At the present moment India is not devoid of military burdens, however, of her own imposing, and if a nation is attacked by someone, or by some coalition of nations, someone must be prepared to defend it. The war in Korea has been far too long because the collective defense against aggression has not been strong enough.
India's leading men are, without doubt, trying to use their best judgment in determining where their friends lie and I do not think the United States has any right to question their judgment on what they wish to do about their own affairs. Neither has India any right to expect friendship, however, where she does not show it. As Madame Hutheesing points out, there has been long friendship between India and the United States. I do not think that feeling of sympathy is any the less today, but friendship is a two-way street. It cannot be all on one side.
In conclusion, I would say that the references in this article to the fear that now exists in the United States of communism and to the Indian belief that communism cannot be conquered by fear and that India is unafraid seem a trifle smug.
Of course, the United States should never want to make India obedient to her wishes and she certainly should not give India arms against her desires. This article is "a gentle rebuke from India," but the loans which India has had and the tractors which this article says she needs from us are usually the give-and-take between nations where there is a mutual sense of community interest.
It may be because of a lack of understanding on both sides that community of interest at the present time between India and the U.S. seems to be at a rather low level.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1951, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC. REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
Names Mentioned or Referenced
- Paris (France)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 10, 1951
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University Old Main Building, Suite 406 1951 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20052
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
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