UNSC Seat,a losing bargain?

Posted on Jan 25 2012 - 2:34pm by Mihir Narvilkar

I am a very firm believer in India’s future. You cannot belittle or ignore the aspirations of 1,190,083,000+ people. But it’s really disheartening to see Indian’s negligent dominance in world politics.

India is not yet in the position to influence international decisions or policies and is clearly not ready to accept a responsible role in settling international issues.

The world’s largest democracy is yet to give a befitting reply to problems such as naxalism, corruption, poverty and unemployment. Kashmir, and uneven and discriminative development are also proving to be major hurdles on India’s path.

Although India has been a regular contributor in the UN’s Peace-Keeping Operations, it has a long way to go when it comes to dealing with its internal turmoil and external or border issues. Talks with China and Pakistan have not produced the desired results. After every year and every talk, it seems we are back to where we started.

“India’s position has been that we are not asking this prematurely, we are asking for it at a time when it is more or less irrefutable,” said Srinath Raghavan, a senior Fellow at New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “The key attribute of a great power is not just military or economic power, but the ability to set the agenda of international politics. The U.N. Security Council has a great deal of control over what is discussed.”

This year has been very important in terms of international relations. It has been a decade since India has been vying for a seat in the UNSC. Most people already believe that the recent events have improved our chances of securing a permanent UNSC seat. The visits and assurances of US president Barack Obama, French President Nicholas Sarkozy and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have surely boosted India’s morale. Japan was also promised for a seat by the US but they haven’t delivered on their promise, so not much can be said as yet.

The US’ relations with Pakistan and our shaky relations with China can significantly undermine our chances. Our leaders are claiming the India’s demand is genuine, but so are leaders from Japan, Brazil, Germany, South Africa, Italy, Indonesia etc.

For a country to be accommodated as a permanent member of the UNSC, the UN Charter has to be amended which will require 2/3rd of the General, i.e 128 votes, followed by the ratification by the same number, plus the assent of the permanent security members. Needless to say this process is time consuming. Currently, India is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and has been elected after a gap of 19 years. The General Assembly elected Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa to serve as non-permanent members of the Security Council for a two-year term starting on 1 January 2011.


(According to The Washington Post, India was offered a permanent seat on the council 55 years ago, in 1955. But that offer, made by the United States and the Soviet Union, was declined by India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru said the seat should be given to China instead.)

I would like to conclude that it will take more than just assurances and support from a handful of countries to secure a permanent seat in the UNSC. India can be a truly powerful and dominant nation on the world stage only if it manages to tackle at least most of its internal disputes and problems.

About the Author

I am a law student from Ahmadabad. My interests include greek philosophy, cyber law, sustainable development, contemporary politics and jurisprudence. I enjoy debating and love travelling.

  • Tejas S

    The article, though well written, leaves several questions unanswered-

    1) Why is a seat in the UNSC a losing bargain? The article, while telling us that assurances aren’t an indication of certainty and that we have a lot of internal problems to be tackled first, still doesn’t tell us either why we don’t need a UNSC seat or how it is a loss if we manage to get it.

    2) The first paragraph quotes India’s dominance in world politics to be ‘negligent’. Does it mean India has neglected being dominant, or is India’s dominance being neglected by other countries? Both arguments, as current day international policy show, are fairly untrue. Firstly, India does have a very major stake in global realpolitik, which is evident from the way certain nations are trying to woo us into being their strategic allies. Secondly, India itself has adopted a very proactive role in terms of voicing their opinions on global matters. What’s more- we’ve been heard!

    3) ‘..clearly not ready to accept a responsible role in settling international issues.’ If global news is anything to go by, India has been at the forefront of mediating and solving international issues. We tackle piracy in international waters. We gravitate towards internationally acceptable solutions on climate change. We play a vital role in maintaining the peace in the South Asian region ( the Indian government was fairly proactive during the entire anti-LTTE operation in Sri Lanka). If this is not readiness, few countries are today doing better.

    4) So what if other countries demand an expansion in UNSC seats? How does it prove that India getting a seat will be a losing bargain? Time consuming or not- a UNSC permanent berth will significantly enhance India’s stature in international politics and economics. This can only be beneficial.

    Answering some of the questions posed in this comment will perhaps clear the air on the topic. But from what is currently in this article, there in nothing even remotely suggestive of the fact that we lose in the process of bargaining for a UNSC seat.