Speaking in New York on Saturday (6 November), Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi described the influx of Bengali refugees as a threat to her country's independence.
GV EXT University building
SV Mrs. Gandhi arrives
GV INT Mrs. Gandhi standing before audience.
SV Mrs. Gandhi speaks.
TRANSCRIPT: SEQ 4: MRS GANDHI: "I can tell you that the people of East Bengal are not very happy in what we're doing for them. They think that we're doing far too little. And I think that I agree with them, I think we're doing far too little. And what we're doing is something that we can't help doing. We cannot stop people going across the border, either from the other side to our side or from our side across back to East Pakistan. Had we been able to do this we would certainly have taken measures to stop those millions of refugees from coming here. Because initially the reaction was, well they're in great trouble, let us allow them in. But very soon the problem that grew for us are really beyond our control and are creating an extremely difficult situation. The people of America have show generosity. As I came here I've been given a cheque, I've been given a cheque by schoolchildren in different countries, by poor people, all kinds of people. And we're grateful for that help, But the major problem is not a financial one. We are poor, we can't afford these millions of people, But if you ... but because we're poor because we've known ho to live without food or any necessity, we can put up with any difficulty we can look after any number of people--of course in great discomfort to them and to us--and maybe some people will die also. But, nevertheless, we can survive this problem. What is difficult to survive are the political consequences, the social tensions, the difficulty of the administration, and lastly, but most importantly the real threat to our independence, to our stability, to our integrity."
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Background: Speaking in New York on Saturday (6 November), Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi described the influx of Bengali refugees as a threat to her country's independence.
In an address to Columbia University's School of International Affairs, she said handling the millions of refugees was more a political problem than a financial one.
Mrs. Gandhi had just completed two days of talks with President Nixon in Washington. On Sunday she flew on to Paris for the next state of a world tour which has already taken her to London, Vienna and Brussels and which will also include Bonn.