140 Moodie to Burton

Minute CANBERRA, 29 December 1948

INDIA AND SOUTH-EAST ASIA

Developments in Indonesia [1] and China [2] provide a very good reason why we should revert to earlier proposals for talks with India, except that they should now be specifically related to the South East Asian area.

The appointment of Gollan and his arrival in Delhi towards the end of January would provide an excellent opening for his sounding Nehru and one or two other Indian ministers. This would be completely consonant with the earlier approaches we made in mid- 1944 and September or October 1946 after the Nehru interim government had taken over.

It would be best to limit the talks to political issues of common concern to our two governments. This would mean that we should be able to exclude migration.

I could, at the same time, either independently or through our New Delhi office, make approaches to two or three Indians who are in touch with Nehru, e.g. Devadas Gandhi (Editor of the 'Hindustan Times').

It would in any case be desirable for us to clear the air by direct reference in one or two speeches early in January (preferably by the Prime Minister, Dr. Evatt or Mr. Calwell) regarding our desire for friendship with Asiatic countries and telling Australians that, in the eyes of the Government, discrimination or prejudice against Asiatics is wrong and completely against our best interests.

At the same time we might consider making some gesture, e.g.

spontaneously offering India wheat over and above whatever quantity was agreed on between the Commerce Department and the Indian Food Mission. Both Sahay [3] and Gandhi made it clear that wheat is our best selling card in India.

1 Following the breakdown of talks between the Netherlands Cabinet Delegation and the Republican Government, the Netherlands Government announced it decision to proceed with the establishment of an interim Government without the participation of the Republic and, on 19 December 1948, the Netherlands forces occupied the Republican capital of Djokjakarta capturing President Sukarno and other Republican leaders. See Volume 13.

2 See Document 226 and Part I of Document 229.

3 Vishnu Sahay, Minister for Food, Government of India.

[AA:A1068/7, DL47/5/6]