Volume #22 - 417.|
UNITED NATIONS AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
UNITED NATIONS SPECIALIZED AGENCIES
UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION
High Commissioner in India|
to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL||
January 11th, 1956|
Dear Jules [Léger],96
As you know, the next conference of UNESCO is going to be held here this autumn. I write you this personal letter because I am very worried about the way in which this conference may go unless the Foreign Ministers of the principal Western countries realize that the conference is likely to provide an important battleground in the struggle between Russia and the West for this part of the world.
2. My impression is that most of the principal Western97 powers have taken at UNESCO conferences in the past half dozen years or so a generally unenthusiastic, negative and unimaginative line. If they should take that kind of line at the New Delhi conference, then the Russians can score an important victory.
3. The Western powers will, I am afraid, take at New Delhi the same sort of line they have taken in the past, or at least one not far enough removed from it, if their policies on UNESCO are based on the sort of considerations on which their policies have been based in the past. Western policies on UNESCO have to be lifted out of their old context and subjected to a searching re-examination. If this re-examination is to be sufficiently searching, it must, I think be done not by those who have dealt with UNESCO in the past but at a high level and in the first instance by those who have been dealing with the cold war struggle against the Soviet Union, particularly the struggle for this part of the world.
4. I may, of course, turn out to be entirely mistaken about Russian intentions to use the UNESCO conference in Delhi as a battleground in the struggle for Asia. I do urge, however, that the only safe assumption for the West to make is that the Russians do so intend. At the International Trade Fair here they showed how capable they are of using a trade fair as an opportunity for scoring a victory over the United States and the United Kingdom in the battle for men's minds in South and Southeast Asia. The Bulganin-Khrushchev visit provided another example of Soviet cleverness in this part of the world. Unless the West is careful the Russians can score another resounding victory at the UNESCO conference here.
5. This UNESCO conference in Delhi is the first full-dress conference of a specialized agency to be held in India. It is probably the first such conference to be held anywhere in this part of the world. It should be considered therefore in this light and not as if it were just another boring meeting of another boring specialized agency held in Geneva.
6. I do not need to develop at length with you the reasons why it would be dangerous if Western policy at the UNESCO conference were negative, unimaginative and based mainly on budgetary considerations. The Russians could ask for nothing better. It would immensely assist them since it would serve further to convince Asian "neutralists" that the West is interested only in armaments and that it is materialistic, selfish and parochial and is not interested in trying to break down barriers between nations and peoples or in sharing with the peoples of the underdeveloped countries Western knowledge, education, science and culture.
7. The important thing I suggest is for the members of the Western delegations to come here with an agreed, imaginative and positive programme for expanding the work of UNESCO, particularly in fields of special interest to India and other countries of this area. The adoption by UNESCO of such a programme might well mean an increase over the next two to four years of 50% or even 100% in the budget of UNESCO. This would mean for a country like Canada an annual additional charge of $150,000 a year or $300,000 a year. I know it will not be easy to persuade Cabinet to agree to such an increase but I do suggest that it would be a modest price to pay for what could be a highly successful offensive against the Soviet Union and Communist China.
8. In spite of the fact that I lack direct knowledge of UNESCO, I have been rash enough to set forth in a note attached to this letter some suggestions about the possible content of the Western programme at the New Delhi Conference. These are nothing more than suggestions of the kind of thing the West might do at the conference to demonstrate that it is anxious to learn from the science and culture of this part of the world and is anxious to assist in helping this part of the world to learn from the culture and science of the West and from its educational processes.
9. It is not only, of course, a matter of the West deciding in advance on a positive and imaginative policy for the UNESCO conference in New Delhi; it is also a matter of the Western countries sending to Delhi first-rate delegations carefully selected to carry out Western policy at the conference. Each delegation should therefore include one or two people with shrewd political sense as well as eminent leaders in science, education and culture. They should be the kind of people whom Indians in the fields of education, science and culture would want to meet. They should be the kind of people who will want to travel around India and learn from India.
10. It would be useful if as many members as possible of the Western delegations could arrive in India a month or so before the conference. They could spend this month travelling in India, Pakistan and Ceylon and studying the projects in this area which UNESCO is helping. They should, if at all possible, stay on in India for a month or so after the conference either to travel or better still to do specialized jobs of technical assistance.
11. I have so far dealt with the general problem of Western participation in the UNESCO conference. I have not particularly referred to Canadian participation.
12. As you can well understand, however, I am even more worried about the possible Canadian position at the conference than about the Western position in general.
13. In the past, as the report of our delegation to the last UNESCO conference pointed out, we have taken a somewhat "negative" approach to the programme and the budget of UNESCO and "because of our limited knowledge of UNESCO and its activities" our participation in UNESCO conferences has been "based more upon the budgetary implications of the programme than upon the usefulness of the projects". If we should take, at the conference in New Delhi, a negative, unimaginative attitude based mainly upon a desire to keep the budget down, we may lose in this country a fair amount of the good will and respect which we have laboriously built up over eight or nine years.
14. So far as our own delegation is concerned, the kind of people I would like to see on it are W.A. Mackintosh, Wilder Penfield, Omond Solandt, Arthur Lismer, G.V. Ferguson and Donald Creighton. Mackintosh would be a first-rate advertisement of Canadian culture as the most scholarly of our university presidents. He would also be the best possible Canadian representative in discussions of the social sciences at the conference. No one could be better than Solandt on all matters connected with atomic and nuclear energy. Arthur Lismer has worked in the past two years on getting together an exhibit of children's art for Shankar's exhibition in Delhi. G.V. Ferguson would represent us admirably in discussions on the free flow of information. Donald Creighton could represent our historians.
15. There is one issue of paramount importance which I have left to the very last. One thing the West must certainly do is to ensure that China is represented at the New Delhi conference by Peking and not by Formosa. The West would look too absurd if at a first class conference held in Asia on problems of special interest to Asia it refuses to permit 600 million people of Asia to be represented.
16. I am sorry to trouble you about this because I know how busy you must be with many matters of more immediate and pressing concern to Canada. I do hope, however, that you will be able to give some thought to this question, that you can start a re-examination of Canadian policy going, and then use our influence in London, Washington, Paris and so on to try to get them to make similar re-examinations. There may be a stage at which it might be advisable to have Western policy at the UNESCO conference in New Delhi discussed by the NATO group in Paris.
Note du haut-commissaire en Inde
Memorandum by High Commissioner in India
UNESCO CONFERENCE AT NEW DELHI 1956
1. The Western delegations might propose that the work which UNESCO is now doing to disseminate the visual arts and music of South and Southeast Asia and to translate the classical and modern works of this region should be greatly expanded. Specific proposals should be made. Western representatives should emphasize their interest in and respect for the culture of this region - its art, music, dancing, philosophy and so on - and the desire of the West to acquire greater knowledge, understanding and appreciation of this culture.
2. The French might develop at Delhi the kind of ideas they put forward at the Geneva meeting of Foreign Ministers in November for encouraging the freer flow of information, ideas and persons between the Western world and the Soviet Union. Each of the Western countries should be prepared to support the French and come forward with constructive ideas of their own. The objective would be to demonstrate on Asian soil that it is the Russians and not the West who maintain the iron curtain and are afraid of competitive co-existence.
3. At the last UNESCO conference the underdeveloped countries put forward a resolution on the establishment of an educational, scientific and cultural fund and this resolution was passed by a substantial majority even though vigorously opposed by the United States and other large contributors. Instead of opposing this proposal at the next meeting the Western countries might work out in advance an agreed, sensible, generous proposal for a development fund which they would be prepared to support at the New Delhi conference.
4. Western Government might seek the advice of Western medical experts on the drafting of a proposal for an expert examination by UNESCO of non-Western systems of medicine starting with the ancient systems of South and Southeast Asia. The argument which Western delegations could advance at the conference could be that Western medicine stands in great need of drawing upon the wisdom and resources of these ancient systems of medicine. (It has recently been stated that Western medicine is only beginning to use a drug for the treatment of nervous disorders which has been used successfully in India for centuries. Is it not possible that this drug might have been discovered many years ago if Western medicine had been more interested in examining the merits of the two ancient Indian medical systems?)
5. The West might urge an acceleration of the research work being done by UNESCO on the arid zone of the world and on the humid tropical zone, on the social implications for South and Southeast Asian countries of industrialization and urbanization, and on the training of teachers in "fundamental education" in countries such as India.
6. Western delegations might support a special intensive programme for assisting India in the establishment of modern methods of language teaching. The emphasis should not be on the teaching of English but on the teaching of the national language, Hindi, and the dozen or so principal regional languages. English would also benefit by such a programme.
7. The West might urge an extension of the work which UNESCO is
already doing to help eradicate racial discriminations in the
world. Western ideas on this, as on other subjects, should be
carefully thought out in advance. It is not a matter of Western
delegates giving pious, platitudinous sermons on the text of all
men being brothers but of Western delegates putting forward
precise, workable suggestions on how UNESCO might help its member
states in their struggles to eradicate racial discriminations on
their territories. Because the United States can be particularly
proud of what it is doing to eradicate discriminations against
its Negro citizens, the United States might usefully take the
lead in this question.