SO India has been voted in as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for a two-year period (2011-2013) by a huge majority. It received the backing of 187 out of 192 countries which must be something of a record. Way back in 1996, when it last contested, it was defeated by Japan and received a bare 42 votes. In both instances, the hand of the United States cannot be ruled out. But the new support, after a gap of 19 years shows, said The Hindu (October 14), how differently India is now perceived.
This, said the paper, “is a timely break to push for the expansion of the United Nations Security Council and its own case for permanent membership”. The paper pointed out that “the present configuration of the Security Council should help in projecting the argument that the permanent membership needs to reflect the changed realities of the world”. However, the paper sounded a warning. It said: “Having a burning problem in Kashmir ill serves New Delhi’s aspirations of joining the international big league. The good augury is that Pakistan was among the countries that voted for India…”
DNA (October 14) said that the fact that India won 187 votes… indicates that there is now more support for it across the world. There is little doubt, the paper said, that India is being nudged into a leadership role considering that it “has the advantage of not being seen as a global bully”. The paper pointed out that India has to build on this and there can be no room for complacency. “This is a chance to shift the momentum away from Europe and the US… India needs to win friends and influence people and not throw its weight about like China… India must now capitalise on its strengths and convince the world that it has a legitimate claim to a permanent seat on the Security Council,” the paper averred.
The Telegraph ( October 14) took note of the fact that the campaign for winning votes was master-minded by the Prime Minister from the time he was firm in pushing thro’ the Indo-US nuclear deal, though India’s economic power and position helped. Praising the Prime Minister, the paper said that “Manmohan Singh’s various foreign policy initiatives were driven by his aspiration to get India a seat at the global high table (and) the election to the Security Council is a milestone in that journey”. The paper added that the landslide vote in India’s favour is also “the outcome of the excellent groundwork by Indian diplomats to secure this level of support” and “the election is an obvious first step in what is India’s ultimate ambition in the context of the UN: a permanent seat in the Security Council”. India, said the paper, is now “much better placed…”
Hindustan Times (October 14) said India’s return to the Security Council is “both a laudatory and a cautionery tale of diplomacy” and added that “the real test for India will be to see how it votes and how it influences the nature of the UN’s debate”. However the paper warned that “making tough decisions is part and parcel of being a responsible global power” and “so India should not shy away from taking postions that will make it less popular in parts of the world”. In diplomacy, said the paper, “nice guys become irrelevant”. Importantly, the paper said that India will have two years to show it has the right stuff to be a permanent member of the Security Council, though Security Council reform remains a distant and arguably receding prospect during a time of economic recession….”
Writing in The Indian Express (October 20) PR Krishnaswamy, a political scientist said that “notwithstanding the euphoria, India’s election to the UN Security Council is more of a challenge than a cause for celebration. A seat in the Council, he pointed out, “is not about membership in an Ivy League or high-power body, but it is about shouldering responsibilities, exhibiting maturity, evolving nuanced positions on sensitive issues and skilful use of diplomacy to minimise, if not resolve, major problems confronting the world. India, he said, “needs to get down to the nitty-gritty of negotiations, compromises and bridging proposals”. “New Delhi”, he said, “would have to synchronise its ambitions with the wider interests of the developing world (and) needs to balance its newly-found friendship with Washington with the interests of its erstwhile fellow travellers of the Third world solidarity”.
Advisers in the media have not been lacking. Thus, writing in The Hindu (October 14) Siddharth Varadarajan, reminded Delhi that “the principal empowered organ of the UN system, the Security Council, deals with questions of international security that are often intensely political”. In June this year, Brazil and Turkey, both non-permanent members of the Council, voted against a resolution imposing new sanctions on Teheran, but the US had its way. It scuttled prospects of a settlement by insisting on the imposition of new punitive measures. In the eyes of many, if not most countries Brazil and Turkey acted highly responsibly by voting against the sanctions resolution and insisting that the UN pursue the path of diplomacy and compromise rather than confrontation and coercion.
In plain words it means that the US wants India to be subservient to Washington and do what it is told to do. Manmohan Singh need not be India’s Tony Blair. If Pakistan supported India in the last voting, it must have got its orders from Washington. India had better beware. It must have its own foreign policy and have the strength to implement it. It is not all that great to be a member of the Security Council whether in a temporary or permanent capacity, if we wish to retain India’s self-respect. There is nothing to be proud of in being a Security Council member if we don’t have the courage to stand up to our own convictions.