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Wikileaks: MoD scientist lobbied for French firm for award

A secret US diplomatic cable dated April 12, 1973, had alleged that a senior scientific advisor to the GOI ministry of defence was reputed to be the “The French Connection” and allegedly ‘had personal financial interests’ in return for furthering the awarding of a defence ministry contract to buy a a superalloys plant in India.

delhi Updated: Apr 12, 2013 02:57 IST
HT correspondents
HT correspondents
Hindustan Times

Wikileaks: Defence scientist lobbied for French firm for award of superalloys plant contract

A secret US diplomatic cable dated April 12, 1973, had alleged that a senior scientific advisor to the GOI ministry of defence was reputed to be the “The French Connection” and allegedly ‘had personal financial interests’ in return for furthering the awarding of a defence ministry contract to buy a superalloys plant in India.

A battle to bag the contract took place between an American firm Westinghouse and a French competitive firm Creusot-Loire.

The Creusot-Loire offer would have resulted in $10 million higher cost versus Westinghouse’s price.

The cable also alleged that the “French embassy had a reputation for condoning if not actually encouraging unethical tactics in India, so the allegation can very well be true.”

Westinghouse was also informed that that the “GOI anticipates serious foreign exchange difficulties over the next two years. The GOI is therefore giving consideration to the French offer, even though it is admittedly more expensive, simply because of more favorable deferred payment advantages.”

Wikileaks: US opposed Spanish rifle sales to India

A July 11, 1973 confidential cable revealed by Wikileaks how the issue of sale of 106 MM recoilless rifles by Spain to India was opposed by the US.

“Regarding 106 MM recoilless rifles for India, our answer is also negative…Since current policy precludes direct transfer of 106 MM rifles from US to India, we cannot agree to their sale by Spain. You might point out that this prohibition is in no way aimed at Spain but also applies to American firms as well as all foreign possessors of US-origin arms,” the cable said.

In March 1973, the US had lifted total embargo on arms shipments from US to India and resumed a policy which permits only exports of non-lethal end-items and lethal spares and ammunition for previously supplied US equipment.

Wikileaks: Of defence minister Jagjivan Ram’s travails

When the then US ambassador defence Patrick Daniel Moynihan went to meet Indian defence minister Jagjivan Ram, the latter complained to him of the travails he faced with which he presided over a defense budget absorbing monies needed by the poor, a secret diplomatic cable dated March 2, 1974 revealed by Wikileaks said.

“He (Ram) began by asking if I did not agree that the average Indian has a great fondness for the United States. I replied that I assumed this is true because it is true of average people throughout the world. However, I do not meet average Indians, but only Indians who speak English, and these Indians are educated to dislike the United States, sometimes with great intensity,” Moynihan writes.

Wikileaks: Cables predicted upsurge of Maoist movement

About four decades ago, a confidential diplomatic cable dated June 10, 1975, from the US embassy in New Delhi to Washington DC had predicted—with much accuracy—that the ultra left movement in eastern and southern parts of India will assume progressively greater levels in future.

“As they (the poor) become increasingly aware and assertive of their rights, the cycle of rural violence may assume progressively greater levels--with or without the association of radical political parties,” the cable said.

“Over the long run, with or without a Naxalite catalyst, the economic and social disparities in rural India and the growing politicization of the rural poor will probably push upwards the level of violence in the countryside.”

At present, the Maoist movement affects nearly a third of the country’s administrative districts which had compelled prime minister Manmohan Singh to comment a few years back that the Maoist movement will be the country’s biggest threat in the near future although violent incidents involving Maoists have declined in the last few months.

Wikileaks: 1973 'worst year' since Independence

A secret US diplomatic cable dated January 4, 1974 termed 1973 as the worst year since independence.

Disgruntled and displaced local politicians, taking advantage of the popular mood and of the weakness of the Congress organization, moved in early 1973 to dislodge Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s loyal but ineffective nominees in the state capitals.

In 1973, Gandhi’s run of political good fortune--embracing two national election victories, the humbling of Pakistan and the emergence of Bangladesh, and the temporary achievement of foodgrain "self-sufficiency"--finally broke.

In 1974, poor economic performance was matched by popular discontent and political dissidence.

Perhaps the most disturbing development was the bloody but quickly quelled June "revolt" of certain police units in Uttar Pradesh.

The same cable also mentions that this was also the year that the Congress radicals lost in the death of Mohan Kumaramangalam their “brightest, most eloquent, and best-connected spokesman”.

Wikileaks: Sangma a prodigious whiskey drinker, Sema a moderate one

In a confidential communique on the composition of the Indian delegation to the UN General Assembly in 1974, a September 17 diplomatic cable commented on Meghalaya CM Capt Williamson Sangma, who was one of the delegates, as a drinker of prodigious amounts of whiskey while another delegate former Nagaland CM Hokishe Sema was termed a moderate whisky drinker.

The delegation comprising foreign minister Swaran Singh, included three MPs and the above-mentioned two politicians.

Dinesh Goswami, one of the MPs who later became on became the Union law minister was described as an enigma. "At one point, he seemed to be trying to avoid seeing us. When he has seen us, he has hewed cautiously to the party line and hasn't said much. He recently told an Indian employee of our consulate general in Calcutta that he now wishes to establish a "relationship" with the consulate general, whatever that means," the cable said.

Wikileaks: Telangana, 40 years earlier (March, 1973)

In an assessment sent to Washington, the US embassy In Delhi had predicted a split of Andhra and formation of separate Telangana. After a bout of violence in the state over the issue the cable said economic difficulties, withdrawal of army units and the Prime Minister’s offer to discuss ‘all aspects’ of Andhra problem have reduced violence which to GOI was prerequisite to talks. (Besides) Andhra Congress separatist MPs dropped threat to sit with opposition. A top leader BV Subha (Subba) Reddy, who was staunch supporter of Telangana agreed go to Delhi for talks. He met with the Prime Minister. He pressed for early bifurcation…… (During talks) Prime Minister reportedly reiterated promise to maintain open mind…

Wikileaks: Indira and her emergency coterie (August, 1975)

A cable was sent from Delhi to Washington after the imposition of emergency stating PN Haksar’s position seems to have eroded recently but we do not know yet how far. His past association with Mrs Gandhi and their close personal relationship may override recent setbacks, particularly under the present ‘crisis’ circumstances. On RK Dhawan the cable says that we are told he works by passing materials, comments, information, suggestions to the Prime Minister at times when his experience tells him she is most susceptible to receiving these. The cable claims, “We believe Dhawan is essentially a purveyor of instructions for the Prime Minister and more recently Sanjay Gandhi. We doubt he plays a ‘policy’ role except in strictly operational and personal matters, although he is middleman in intrigues where he may serve as a conduit for views to the PM. We have no information about his personal views. His uncle (Yashpal Kapoor) is strongly anti-communist; Dhawan sounds to us essentially an opportunist.”

Wikileaks: Hindu-Muslim riots (June, 1973)

In another cable sent after Hindu-Muslim riots in Old Delhi, Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan made an assessment of the relations between the two communities in India. After discussing the details of loss of property and life in the riots that apparently took place after the toughs from two communities clashed over teasing of an unaccompanied girl, the cable commented that following the emergency of Bangladesh and the ‘burial’ of Jinnah’s two nation theory, facile optimism among India polticians led to the belief that communal disturbances would not recur. In reality, many Muslims regretted the weakening of Pakistan, to which they felt some emotional attachment and whose existence acted as restraint on Hindu communalists.

Wikileaks: Semi-secret Anand Margis 'hot potato' for US

A secret diplomatic cable dated April 16, 1974, described the Anand Margis as a hot potato as far as the US was concerned.

"Given Marg's controversial image in Indian domestic political arena, as opposed to its benign face abroad, the organization is a "hot potato" for the US. Association of the US government in any way with the Marg will invariably provide damaging ammunition for those who wish Indo-US relations ill," the cable said.

"The GOI is extremely suspicious of the semi-secret Marg and its political-religious ideology. Despite prodding from the Left, government spokespersons now seem to be less inclined to stress Marg's connections with foreign branches, including those in US."

The report also added that on March 29, a delegation of Congress and CPI MPs presented a memorandum signed by 116 MPs to Mrs Gandhi urging the GOI to ban the Anand Marg, the RSS, the Jamiat-e-Islami and the Shiv Sena immediately for "spearheading efforts to destroy democracy."

Gandhi was reported to have said that GOI was seized of the matter and was "seriously considering" the legal and constitutional implications of the demand.

Wikileaks: 1974 nuke test cost just $400,000, Cong MP doubted govt claims it was just for peace

A secret diplomatic cable dated June 5, 1974, and released by Wikileaks quoted India's Atomic Energy Commission chairman Homi Sethna that India's nuclear test in 1974 cost just $400,000.

Playing up the peaceful, data-gathering aspects of the test, Sethna is reported to have said: "We had zero-venting" and maintained that the test was inexpensive, "say, around 400,000 US dollars". What Sethna implied was that with its low costs India could compete internationally in nuclear technology.

The cable also claimed that an external affairs ministry officer told US embassy officials that the Chinese were briefed on the test in Delhi around May 30. (That's almost two weeks after the other nuclear powers were informed.) "According to our source, the Chinese made no comment except to affirm standing policy that their own program was confidential."

The cable also added: "A well-placed Congress MP (Hari Kishore Singh) told us that neither he nor the one government minister (deputy minister for information and broadcasting Sinha) he had spoken with about the test took very seriously the claims that the test was exclusively for peaceful purposes. He doubted whether most MPs would either, at least in private."

Wikileaks: Govt used more proportionate violence in Nagaland than US in Vietnam

An August 7, 1973 secret US diplomatic cable quotes GOC-in-Command General AL Rawlley who told a US embassy official that the government had used more violence, proportionate to the size of the insurgency, in Nagaland, than the Americans in Vietnam.

"We used more violence against the Nagas early on, proportionate to the size of the insurgency, than you (US) used against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese," Rawlley had said.

Rawlley also felt that the GOI strategy of carefully regulated use of violence against the Nagas coupled with political concessions has been successful, in contrast to the earlier policy of massive violence which he said had not worked well (in psychological terms).

"It is also the case that since 1967 more than half of the population of Mizoram has been 'resettled' in 'pacified villages' by the GOI," the cable said.

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First Published: Apr 11, 2013 21:52 IST