Bread and the Ballot: The United States and India's Economic Development, 1947-1963

By Dennis Merrill | Go to book overview

TWO
A Missed Opportunity, 1947-1950

When President Truman declared in early 1947 America's willingness to assist India economically, he most likely thought of expanding trade with that nation rather than providing aid. American policymakers placed immense faith in the redemptive qualities of capitalism and free trade. In part, this belief derived from America's long-standing attachment to liberal ideology. In part, it sprang from the experiences of the 1920s and 1930s when restrictive trading practices, unfair economic competition, and excessive nationalism helped to induce economic depression and war.1 It also grew out of self-interest. In 1932, at the depth of the Great Depression, United States exports had totaled only $1.6 billion, but by 1945 they grew to $10 billion, and in 1947 they reached $14 billion -- accounting for one-third of the world's total.2 In the post-World War II era, American leaders hoped to use this immense economic power to maintain an "open world" conducive to international trade and investment. "A large volume of soundly based international trade," President Truman declared in 1946, "is essential if we are to build a durable world economy, and attain our goal of peace and prosperity."3

United States officials soon realized that trade alone would not bring about a peaceful, capitalist world order. Given wartime destruction and the emerging Soviet threat, policymakers concluded that if the world were to be kept prosperous and politically stable, the United States would have to promote economic development through aid as well as trade. By the time India achieved its independence in 1947 and made known its need for economic assistance, foreign aid had already been established as a major tool of American diplomacy. Yet from 1947 to 1950 India's frequent requests for bilateral economic assistance either went unanswered or were turned down. One 1947 State Department document that listed nations in need of aid did not even mention the Indian subcontinent.4 The specific reasons for rejecting Indian requests varied according to the occasion, but one generalization best explains American policy during these years. United States officials declined to make aid available to India and many other needy nations because they did not believe that assistance to such

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Bread and the Ballot: The United States and India's Economic Development, 1947-1963
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • One - Introduction: American Developmentalism And India 1
  • Two - A Missed Opportunity, 1947-1950 19
  • Three - War and Aid, 1950-1951 47
  • Four - A Matter of Priorities, 1951-1953 75
  • Five - A Changing Cold War, 1953-1956 102
  • Six - Take-Off, 1957-1961 137
  • Seven - Jfk and India's Development Decade, 1961-1963 169
  • Eight - Conclusion 204
  • Notes 213
  • Selected Bibliography 257
  • Index 271
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