The seat with a veto

Sarmila Bose argues that permanent membership of the UN Security Council is not for India

Her first argument is that one does not qualify on population alone. Well, in India’s case one billion people are free to express their opinion on global issues. That’s more free people than that of all the current members of the current UNSC put together.

Next, she is right to say that India’s economic power is nothing much compared to a lot of others. But when the UNSC was constituted in 1945, Britain and France were broke and China was poor. Maoist China was on its knees after the Cultural Revolution when it took its seat in the 1970s. And today’s Russia is in worse shape than India. So that economic argument is hollow too.

She then goes on to argue:

Far from being a “natural choice”, India’s very ambition to become a permanent member has a rather ‘unnatural’ twist to it. Why does a country that shows utter disregard for numerous resolutions of the Security Council pertaining to itself, wish to become its permanent member?

And I guess people like the United States, France, China and Russia are model UN members who not only pay their membership fees on time, but honour the letter and spirit of UN resolutions.

A principal task of the Security Council is peace-keeping around the world — India has proved itself unable to keep the peace with any of its neighbours. As Kofi Annan let slip, it is unthinkable that one or both parties of those engaged in bitter and dangerous conflicts such as exists between India-Pakistan or Israel-Palestine be allowed to sit permanently on the Security Council.

The US is not at peace with countries far away from its boundaries. China threatens Taiwan every week. France has backed coups in its North African colonies in the past.
The current Security Council is a relic of the WWII and the Cold War. None of the reasons cited by Sarmila Bose applied to China when it took up the seat in 1975.

So it is but ‘natural’ that instead of seeking the abolition of permanent membership of the Security Council as a matter of principle, what India really wants is to join privileged few and feel it has ‘arrived’.

Has it not ?

In my view there is no objective qualification to take up a seat on the Security Council. And there is no good reason why India should’nt be there. But there is a good reason why it should – to protect its national and economic interests.