Indira Gandhi called Nixon a —-

Will we ever know?

Nixon’s uncouth references to Indira Gandhi, the Nixon-Kissinger duo’s uncharitable description of Indians, and their criminal silence over the genocide in Bangladesh come as no surprise. Nixon, was after all a, err, Nixon. And Kissinger, that unashamed exponent of realpolitik, is still Kissinger.

But what went on in Indira Gandhi’s own office has little chance of coming out in public. Surely, Indira Gandhi herself, and Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw should have had some colourful (if not off-colour) things to say about Nixon and his secretary of state. One thing India would do well to emulate is to follow the American example and wash the dirty laundry once the owners have left the scene.

Sajit Gandhi, who is now a blogger, did a great job mining US government records. It is time someone used the new Right to Information and to do something similar in India.

Like Kissinger, India must move on. But the release of White House tapes should at least shame us into revising our archival policy that refuses to release any official documents for academic study or public use. The US this week has released on the internet the volume, ‘Documents on South Asia 1969-72’, and had— earlier this year — published ‘South Asia Crisis, 1971’, which deals solely with the period March-December 1971. India has released no papers of substance since the time of independence. It is better to face up to history, as American democracy does, than sweep it under the carpet, which seems to be our preferred option. Alas! [IE]

Related Link: India’s President Kalam takes a page out of Dick Cheney’s book.

5 thoughts on “Indira Gandhi called Nixon a —-”

  1. I don’t think this is merely a 1971 nixon issue but represents one instance of a longer-lived phenomenon i.e the western policy bias against india. For his book, War & Diplomacy in Kashmir: 1947-48, Dasgupta meticulously researched declassified British Foreign Office documents & demonstrated how UK/ US had backstabbed India – in the battlefield, the war room, the UN Security Council etc. Recognizing this, Nehru turned to the Soviets, as did his daughter 24 years later.

    What I find really interesting about all these nixon era declassifications is not the nixon locker-room language but that all these planned releases seem to be signaling an internal turf war within the State Dept vis a vis relations with India.

  2. Responding to the related topic about the President’s request

    I think Mr.Kalam has a valid point or two. The US transparency methods are only to make records de-classified after many, many years. The RTI bill is talking about ready availability of information. Not after 20, 30 years. So, I think there is case for keeping certain stuff classified, until some time elapses. Now, what stuff needs to be kept classified, and what is the right amount of time to elapse are all debatable.

    But, I don’t think it is such a good idea to apply a brute-force method to transparency. There are things that will impact national security.

    The other point that Mr. Kalam made about fear of public disclosure altering bureaucrats’ decision-making is also quite plausible. In theory, officials should take the best decision possible for a given issue. In reality, a lot of external factors influence these decisions.

    I guess the point of all my rambling is that, we should take a guarded approach to transparency to Govt. records. Not end up with the telecom situation (US still doesn’t allow foreign companies from owning majority stakes in telecom service providers. India allows 74% FDI. This policy is blind to our national security, considering how important telecom infrastructure is)

  3. What I found most interesting was that Nixon and Kissinger were willing to ask a communist dictatorship (China) to attack a democracy (India) to help a military dictatorship (Pakistan) in supressing 10s of millions of people. Thhe language itself is irrelevant.

    I do agree that India could use its own Freedom of Information act. In fact, Indian government officials should be reminded (again and again, if necessary) that they are there to serve the people, not the other way around. The arrogance of the Indian bureaucracy knows no bounds (unless you have connections, of course0.

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