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‘Kissinger Cables’ Offer Window Into Indian Politics of the 1970s

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 9, 2013

By NEHA THIRANI BAGRI
Indira Gandhi, then Indian prime minister, at the site of India's first underground nuclear test in Pokhran, Rajasthan, in Dec. 1974.ReutersIndira Gandhi, then Indian prime minister, at the site of India’s first underground nuclear test in Pokhran, Rajasthan, in Dec. 1974.
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The “Kissinger Cables,” a collection of U.S. diplomatic cables released on Monday by WikiLeaks, contain some fascinating revelations about the political scenario in India in the 1970s. Here are the five great insights about India in the WikiLeaks release:

India’s first nuclear test was possibly motivated by political considerations:

According to this cable, sent from New Delhi to the Department of State, India’s first nuclear test on May 18, 1974, was motivated by domestic politics. The cable says that the nuclear test had been done at a time when the Indian government was tackling an economic slowdown, increasing discontent and rising political unrest.

“We are inclined to believe that this general domestic gloom and uncertainty weighed significantly in the balance of India’s nuclear decision,” reads the cable sent on the date of the nuclear test. “The need for a psychological boost, the hope of recreated atmosphere of exhilaration and nationalism that swept the country after 1971 – contrary to our earlier expectation – may have tipped the scales.” Read the rest of this entry »

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