American Diplomacy
Commentary and Analysis

April 1998

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Robert K. Olson

Robert K. Olson

For faster downloading, Mr. Olson's article is divided into the following linked sections:

·  Introduction
·  The Grady Mission
·  After the Pageantry
·  Aftermath
·  ABOUT Robert Olson

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A Historical Retrospective:


Ambassador Henry Grady and Indian Independence

by Robert K. Olson

The occasion brought back into focus Nehru in his "Nehru jacket" and "Gandhi hat," half in love with Edwina, torn between the joy of the moment and the sheer horror of the massacres; Gandhi, who more than anyone had made it possible; the Congress leaders, Patel, V.P. Menon and Krishna Menon, Rajagopalachari, Jinnah, the father of Pakistan, and many others. We could see them seated in the Constituent Assembly waiting for the stroke of midnight. Out of the waiting silence,

Jawaharlal Nehru Jawaharlal Nehru
we could hear the tolling of the great bell whose final stroke was followed by the ancient bleat of the conch shell announcing the end of one era and the beginning of another. Then the cheers.

Ceremonies for Pakistani independence were held the day before, in Karachi where British troops who lowered the flag also cut down the pole; no other flag would fly from it, ever.

The ocasion also brought to mind images of the insane and bloody massacres that left by year's end an estimated half million or more dead and fifteen million uprooted as Muslims fled to Pakistan and Hindus to India. The end of the Raj, therefore, and the birth of the independent states of India and Pakistan were at once a painful and glorious event which seared itself on the memory and imagination of the world.

There was even more to it than that. Celebrated in neither song nor story was a third pivotal event,
Dr. Henry Grady and George McGhee
Henry Grady (r.) with State Department's George McGhee
not the end of the tattered old Raj, not the birth of India, but the entry on stage of the first American ambassador to India, Dr. Henry F. Grady. Suddenly, in the game of diplomatic musical chairs, the Raj was out and the United States was in. India, to be sure, became a Dominion of the Commonwealth along with Pakistan. In addition, India was suddenly an independent member of the new world order in direct relations with the United States, the most powerful military and dynamic economic force of the post-war world, proconsul of the Atlantic and of the Pacific, a nation charged with a new global mission just announced by President Harry Truman in his March 12 address to Congress known as the Truman Doctrine. Indian leaders understandably were rather frightened of it all.

Continue reading Olson: The Grady Mission

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