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98 Mackay to Evatt Dispatch Delhi 40/46

NEW DELHI, 2 September 1946

I have the honour to inform you that, following our conversation in Karachi on August 26th, 1946 [1], I called upon Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru, President All-India Congress, in New Delhi on August 29th.

A short cable, No. 539, announcing that I had conveyed your message to Nehru was sent to you on August 31st, as follows-

'Called on Nehru August 29th. Obviously gratified receive your message expressed grateful thanks otherwise very non-committal.

Nehru invites you visit Delhi in near future. Details covered in despatch by air mail.'

Mr. Nehru said that he recalled with pleasure his meeting with you in England in 1938 at the house of Sir Stafford Cripps. His recollection was that at that time you were still a judge of the High Court of Australia.

After these preliminaries I delivered your message to Nehru, following generally the lines of the attached Notes on our conversation in Karachi. A copy of these Notes was given to Nehru before I took leave of him.

Nehru listened quietly but seemed very unresponsive and noncommittal, tired and even nervous. When I told him of your wish that India should gain her independence yet remain within the British Commonwealth of Nations he smiled broadly.

He asked me to thank you for your message of good-will, saying that India would be glad if Australia would take part in any discussions which might be arranged in the future concerning the peoples of Asia and the Indian Ocean.

I referred to the discussions between Australia and New Zealand in 1944 and the approach to the Government of India, later, on the possibility of initiating similar discussions between Australia and India. [2] Nehru said that he knew about the Australia-New Zealand Agreement and that later on he would be ready to look into the matter of talks with India again if I brought it up.

He made no mention of the question as to whether India would remain in the British Commonwealth or not.

Nehru showed interest in the number of countries in which Australia had diplomatic representation and again smiled, without comment, at the suggestion that Australia would be prepared to style her representative in India Minister instead of High Commissioner.

He expressed the wish that you should come to Delhi and stay for a few days to learn something of conditions in India at first hand.

Nehru said he was tired of the continual use of the title Pandit, which was wrong in any case, and preferred to be addressed as Mr.


He made enquiries about your return to Australia, the Federal elections and constitutional referendum [3], also how long the elections and subsequent events in Australia were likely to engross you.

Nehru asked how you thought proceedings at the Peace Conference were going and remarked on the freedom with which Australia expressed her views.

I then took my leave, the interview having lasted 25 minutes. A copy of a letter received from Nehru after our conversation is attached. [4]

IVEN G. MACKAY High Commissioner

1 See Document 87.

2 See Volume VII, Document 331 3 A referendum on three constitutional amendments seeking to extend Federal powers in regard to organised marketing, employment conditions and social services. The first two proposals were narrowly defeated and the third carried.

4 In this letter Nehru conveyed his agreement that there should be 'the friendliest relations between India and Australia'.

[AA:A1066, M45/9/23]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History