TOPICS : India pitches for UN Security Council seat

Ranjit Devraj

Though India pitched for a veto-yielding berth in the to-be-expanded UN Security Council, officials after meeting United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said New Delhi would not be going overboard to get its foot into the door of the prestigious body. “India has made its case clear and the secretary general mentioned a decision before the 60th summit of the United Nations General Assembly in September,” said commodore C Uday Bhaskar, after emerging from official meetings with Annan on Wednesday. Annan, who arrived in New Delhi late Monday, plunged into a whirlwind of meetings Wednesday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other dignitaries. In an interview with IPS, Bhaskar who heads the prestigious government think-tank, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), said “India’s case is strong enough not to be held hostage to the normal UN system, but there are realities to be reckoned with.”

Bhaskar has made it clear that the world body is fast losing relevance, while India was moving in the reverse direction and New Delhi could afford to wait to be invited to the Security Council. Bhaskar cites India’s growing economic clout as a factor. “Even the US National Intelligence Council estimates that by 2020, India’s GDP will be on the threshold of overtaking European economies and will be next only to the US, China and Japan,” he pointed out. Asked whether Annan backed India’s bid for a Security Council seat, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna replied: “That part of the discussions is confidential.” A UN panel, led by former Thai Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun, proposed in December to expand the 15-nation Security Council. The panel offered two models, with the first suggesting the addition of six new members to the existing five permanent powers: Britain, France, China, Russia and the US. The other would create a new tier of eight semi-permanent members two each from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. While the US has been ambiguous on the issue, the other four permanent members have expressed support for India’s candidacy.

French President Jacques Chirac has even said the UN Security Council does not represent today’s world and should be expanded to include Germany, Japan and developing nations such as Brazil and India as permanent members. China’s endorsement of Indian membership was made during a state visit to India earlier this month by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao who, incidentally, used the opportunity to also declare Beijing’s opposition to Japan’s bid for a Security Council seat. Unsurprisingly, Pakistan made it clear that Islamabad was opposed to India becoming a permanent member. But according to analyst Bha-skar, it is unlikely that the P-5 countries will become P-8 or P-9 in the short term. “It is evident that there will be no quick consensus about how the Security Council can be revamped,” he said. Last week, Prime Minister Singh said “there are powers who do not want to give up what they have,” adding,

“there is a struggle ahead.” “It is better to go to the battle recognising the difficulties ah-ead.” But earlier this month, Annan said UN member states should be ready to push through plans to expand the Security Council in September. — IPS