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The Verbatim version of the “Long Telegram” (with some pointers)


There are two drafts of the paper titled “Need for India in a Changing World to reassess her national interest and foreign policy” in File no. 290, Haksar papers (IIIrd Installment) which was cited as PN Haksar’s “long telegram” in the National Interest Article.

File no. 290 also contains “chapters” on Pakistan, Russia, USA and China. There are no signatures, no dates, no government insignia.  There is also no category – immediate, confidential, secret or top secret – on these papers as is the norm for any government document. These were most probably drafts of a book being written in mid-1969 and may have been published in late 1969 or 1970 or may be later (There is no way to ascertain that; I have checked over 20 books in NMML). The “long telegram” is summary of the policy prescriptions accompanying the research done on foreign policy matters in this book draft.

Anyways, the burden of proof regarding attribution of these papers to PN Haksar is of the author of the “long telegram.”

I am also ready to share scanned copies of Subject File. 290 and 292 on a personal basis.

Please read this with  two things in mind. ‘Insertions’ are my own additions and provide further evidence how this could not have been written by PN Haksar. Second, wherever I have emphasized the text, I have written ’emphasis added’.

Here is the verbatim reproduction of the “long telegram”.

Need For India in a changing world to reassess her national interest and foreign policy (pp. 11-17, File No. 290, Haksar papers (IIIrd Installment)

“Against the backdrop of a world of increasing complexity in power relationships and varying political alignments, a world where the tremendous power of Russia and America is under increasing and, in a sense, permanent challenge, where power balances have been found more conducive to regional and global political stability than moral exhortations, where the problems of the rich and the poor are even more important than ideological disputes which have waned in favour of pragmatic sanctions, almost of the eighteenth century type between powerful nations, and where those who falter and go slow fall behind very rapidly in the race for progress, India has to reassess from top to bottom her national interests and the best ways of protecting and furthering them (Insertion: This opening sentence is of 13 lines). At one time she could have affected greatly world power balance by going in either with the international system led by Stalin or the one led from Washington, and when the technology of nuclear weapons had not advanced anything like as much as it has today.  She could perhaps have held China at bay from Tibet with or without a firm alliance with the United States and, up to a point – such was the American desire to make an early ally of her then -there may have been certain benefits deriving from such an alliance particularly in respect of the creation of considerable military power of the modern type in India (Insertion: a clear criticism of Nehru’s Tibet policy, non-alignment and ignorance towards military power. This is a trend all over the file.) In such circumstances, the Western world may well have been indifferent to Pakistan’s bleatings (sic) over Kashmir and her hostility to Indian progress in more general terms. But the price may have been political subordination to Washington and, as it happened, no-alignment was still probably the wiser course at that time and judged solely by the test of India’s national interests- not by messianic visions. As applied to China in Tibet, India’s foreign policy had obvious defects (Insertion: Criticism of Tibet Policy). The pressure which China has applied and can apply increasingly from the Tibetan plateau are such that it is more urgent than ever for India to build power within her frontiers, military and economic, with great urgency and with great effort. It is suggested that the mainlines of India’s foreign policy should be so:-

a) Non-alignment should continue as the initial premise of this Foreign Policy in the sense that military alliance with either Russia or America or both should be avoided as serving, at this stage of India’s development, no real national purpose;

b) To the extent that foreign powers may be interested in maintaining India’s integrity as a state and the integrity of her Himalayan frontiers with China, India’s own ability to fight in defence of these instruments will more surely influence Moscow or Washington, or both, than any open engagement with either or both of these powers seeking this protection which, as explained in the chapter on nuclear arms for India (emphasis added) is wholly unreliable. (Insertion: this chapter is available in File No. 292 which the author of the “long telegram” has not seen. Towards the end of this chapter in the conclusion, it is more than evident that these random papers are part of a book: “the areas where advantageous collaboration between China, Japan and India is possible are elaborated in the final chapter of this book (emphasis added), File No. 292, p. 24.)

c) It is certain that India must not surrender her nuclear options in her vital national interests;

d) A primary aim of Indian Foreign Policy should be take steps to keep open and indestructible the avenues which permit this great country, with a great history and vast human and natural resources, to attain progressively a position of real dignity, power and authority in the comity of nations; an this certainly involves the following measures taken in the shortest possible span of time:-

  1. the making of nuclear arms in the shape of missiles of medium range (2,000 to 2,500 miles) (emphasis added, Insertion: the National Interest article says 2000-3000 miles; why because in 2500 miles one can’t reach Manchuria from New Delhi-distance between New Delhi and Changchun (Manchuria) is 2832.1 miles approx) capable, from sites within India’s frontiers, of striking with success not only a few chosen targets in Tibet but of ranging as far afield as the industrial heartland of China in Manchuria and in great river valleys south of it which include some of her principal industries and urban centres of population:
  2. the development simultaneously of submarine driven by nuclear power fitted out to carry nuclear missiles as this would extend and re-inforce the scope and effect of India’s military and, by implication, political authority in South and South East Asia and indeed, further afield eventually;
  3. this nuclear arms programme should be based on adequate stock-piling of those instruments and machineries which, as Russia and America advance their common policy towards nuclear non-proliferation (emphasis added), will be difficult to import from abroad increasingly;
  4. all Indian metallurgists, physicists and others who could be really useful in developing a nuclear arms programme for India and, attracted by better material and other conditions abroad, are working in foreign countries, should be called back (emphasis addedand integrated with the establishments controlled by the Indian atomic energy Commission at high rates of pay and with every incentive available to them;
  5. every attempt should be made in conditions of assured secrecy (emphasis added) to sound the Japanese about collaboration in these fields.

e) Indian arms industry should be modernised and developed rapidly and, in this context the Soviet Union should be made to realise that France, England and other countries will be resorted to increasingly by India for the development of her aircraft and tank industries and for her weapon industries generally if the Soviet Union shows any marked tendency to  maintain a sort of fictitious balance of power between Pakistan and India – in the manner Western countries in the past (Insertion: Clearly, if written by Haksar, he was unaware that Western countries had imposed an Arms embargo in April 1965):

f) Japan may not as yet wish to develop heavy defence industries for India but probes in this direction should be made continually (Insertion: India and Japan had a bilateral dialogue in place at least since 1964; Haksar was even unaware of this):

g) electronic and computers and allied industries should be pressed ahead with vigorously and telescoped increasingly into a developing nuclear arms programme where every recent technological evidence should be made use of (Insertion: in those years, as the minutes of Committee on Science and Technology suggests, India was not even able to produce enough of small arms. The PN Haksar of “Long Telegram” obviously was unaware of this).

h) Rumania and Jugoslavia are important countries of the Leninist-Marxist persuasion and India should develop her industrial, commercial, technological and indeed, political relations with these countries to the maximum (Insertion: India always had great relations with Yugoslavia. Rumania on the other hand was central to US-China dialogue in mid-1960s. Haksar appears to be most under-informed Secretary in the PMO’s office ever.)

i) there should be no inhibitions (emphasis added) whatever about the Hitlerian past of Germany (emphasis added) to prevent India from seeking, at every level, to establish good relations with this state – particularly in varied fields of industry and technology while, of course, maintaining the links which have already grown up between East Germany, and India (Insertion: This may be the proof of Haksar’s ignorance of Fascist tendencies or its celebration. As far as we know, PN Haksar was a great champion of liberal ideas. With the long telegram, that may be under doubt). 

j) every sort of technical aid and training, including military training, should be offered to freely by India (emphasis added) to countries of South and South East Asia and to those of West Asia and Africa and, where available resources are limited, priority should be given to neighbouring Asian countries. (Insertion: This is Haksar’s wonderland. PN Haksar doesn’t even know what the financial and economic situation is. 1966-67, India suffered its worst food crisis. It is completely dependent on outside assistance for its defence requirements. Yet, Haksar want to offer freebies.)

k) all efforts within the United Nations and elsewhere which aims at freeing Southern Africa from the grip of settlers of foreign origin should be supported to the full and, at a later stage, arms and military training can be provided through African governments for African patriots. (Insertion: Now Haksar believes in supporting armed struggles. Also, he is unaware that India has always been diplomatically supporting independence for African states.)

l) by the same token India should cease to be either surprised or affected, in respect of her co-operation with a country like Britain to their mutual advantage where such cooperation is possible, when that country pursues increasingly a policy of direct or indirect support for the lands of apartheid (emphasis added) – be they South Africa or Rhodesia – to the extent of selling arms in even greater volume than at present to the Government of Pretoria and voting everywhere against any measures derived, in any international body, to bring power economic and other sanctions to bear against the protagonists of apartheid. These policies of Britain are pursued in her own material self interests which is, for better or for worse, bound up considerably with her South African gold marketed in London. (Insertion: First of all Haksar’s english is really difficult to understand. Second, if I understand correctly, he is fine with British support for South Africa’s apartheid practices. Indian foreign policy is going down the drains.) 

m) in dealing with African governments generally India should apply the yardstick of her own national interests where they coincide with the policies of individual governments in this region. But is is neither profitable nor necessary (emphasis added) to act in a manner which suggests that India’s support of such states and governments in outright and unqualified in all circumstances. There is no need to associate India’s national interests in these regions with the fate of these Asian settlers there who have remained bound to forms of wholesale and retail trade which, quite obviously, must be entered by the emergent African middle class in these societies. Indeed, many of these people have been told repeatedly by their friends and sympathisers in India to switch to industrial enterprises while employing and associating more and more Africans and, unfortunately, many of them have not chosen to do so. Those who chose to adopt the nationality of the areas where they were reluctant when given the option have done better. But unfair treatment of Asians where it occurs should be opposed strongly at diplomatic levels. India’s basic national interests are involved in Africa to the extent that blatant racialism of the white settler variety must be opposed to the hilt by New Delhi and technical, cultural, and other forms of collaboration with rising African nations would be of advantage for all concerned on as India’s industrial capacity increases, together with her ability to trade more and more with these countries and perhaps not so long hence, to establish joint industrial ventures in these parts. There is no reason at all why Indian small arms and, indeed other weapons as they become increasingly available should not be sold to African governments (emphasis added) (Insertion: An area for African experts in India. May have consequences if written by Haksar. I still can’t understand his english. Other papers written by PN Haksar were so lucid otherwise.)

n) Canada, the smaller countries of Western Europe and of Eastern Europe represent regions and states which have no real conflict of interest with India and which, in the case of Canada, have pursued remarkably friendly and generous policies towards her as indeed have many smaller countries of which Sweden is a notable example. Not prone to racialism, or to any arrogant assumptions of glory and superiority deriving from past grandeur, these countries are among the better humanising and liberalising forces of mankind and can be counter on to agree with India in many fields of endeavour, economic, technological and other pertaining to good fellowship between the rich and the poor of this world. Liberalising the terms of international trade and broadening what is called aid well beyond the heavy burdens of debt which so much of it represents for the poor nations today – these are all issues on which smaller and advanced countries are liable to take a balanced and helpful attitude, both in their own interests and in the interests of less fortunate countries. The great industrialised states of Eastern Europe, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Hungary, Bulgaria, East Germany and others – let alone the particularly friendly and well-disposed Jugoslavia – can be counted on in these contexts as can the Scandinavian countries. Holland, Belgium, Australia, Switzerland and many other places including Italy and Spain. Indeed, every type of cultural and economic exchange of views between the Government of India and the governments of countries such as these should be widespread and lead to real mutual understanding at many points and, therefore, to collaboration of the sort referred to (Insertion: Not much to say but was PN Haksar not being briefed by the MEA on relations with these countries; also, most of these were American allies)

o) Latin America is a potentially rich, developing and under-privileged area of the world. India must cultivate cultural, trade and friendly relations generally with all these countries and particularly with Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and others of particular importance in the region. Their national and regional aspirations have India’s support at the United Nations and elsewhere and there should be an increasing attempt by New Delhi (emphasis added) to get its policies and attitudes on international issues across to the governments of these states while taking pains to understand their opinions and feelings in exchange. Common denominator of long-term interest are to be found in obtaining better terms of trade and aid for the developing world from the rich and advanced nations and in maintaining a common front against entrenched discrimination in all it’s forms by rich areas against the poor ones. Cuba is a special case, and it is desirable that Indian government should be understood fully the political outlook and policies of the Havana government. It may, as time goes by,be found to have had a fairly pervasive effect in Latin America but, here again, there need not be any blind identification of India’s interests with policies and purposes of Havana as there has tended to be in the past, sometimes in relations with certain African states. (Insertion: This is the first I have seen where a top government bureaucrat refers to his own government as “New Delhi.” Second, in 1968, India and Brazil had signed a cultural agreement which included cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Haksar again appears to be highly uninformed of India’s external relations.)”


The Note ends here on page no 17 of File no. 290. A copy of the same note starts at page 18 till 24.


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