FEATURED | The High Time for the "Horseshoe Shaped" High Table For India. Is it?
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FEATURED | The High Time for the "Horseshoe Shaped" High Table For India. Is it?

By Manish Yadava
Asmara University, Eritrea 

Much against the principle of equality among member states given in the charter of United Nations and in view of dominant political, economic, nuclear and diplomatic positions of P-5 i.e. USA, USSR, China, UK, and France post 2nd World War in 1945 were given permanent places at Security Council with veto power.

FEATURED | The High Time for the "Horseshoe Shaped" High Table For India. Is it?

Image Attribute: United Nations Security Council, New York / Wikimedia Commons

Since the origin of United Nations in 1945 international scenario has undergone multidimensional transformations in which two features can be underlined. One is diffusion of the democratic culture in the world community and another emergence of the global village concept where the national boundaries seem to have lost their traditional significance.

In this process, the world has become multi-polar in which many countries like India, Japan, Brazil, Germany, and Israel etc. have emerged as nuclear and economic powers. Many international groups like G-4, IBSA came into existence at various levels which started to question the undemocratic structure of Security Council. The demand of democratization of United Nations, particularly the Security Council became more and louder. 

In my opinion, India's aspiration to have a permanent seat at United Nations Security Council (UNSC) with or with- out Veto power is no longer a ‘Utopian Dream’ or a ‘Bridge too Far’ if India gets its act together by Multi-pronged Diplomacy and Strategic manoeuvre in Political, Economic, Humanitarian and Defense Preparedness aspects. India is not a wannabe super power like China which wants to bulldoze into the elite club of P-5. According to S. D. Muni “India is neither a restrained nor a reluctant power rather India is a cautious and constrained power depending on its economy” but having crossed the nuclear rubicon a decade and a half back and having the economy liberalized quarter a century back, it is ready to take on more responsibilities at the high table of United Nations as a great power.[1]

The notion of Security Council as an “executive”- and one that would work admirably but for abuse of veto powers by P-5 has never held water. So the expansion of ‘Security Council’ and its democratization is required and India deserves to be part of ‘Security Council’ as its permanent member with veto powers.[2]

However, a lot need to be done on this count in order to turn the Security Council into a truly functional and democratic body to maintain international peace and security and here in lies the role and relevance of India as a rising power in the new millennium.

To get it’s long awaited and due place at the horseshoe table. India’s strategy for the Indian foreign policy: should be that of diversifying and sustaining power. With a new government in power in New Delhi as some circles in media are claiming the foreign policy of India has been modified whatever the reasons for this optimism the basics of foreign policy remain the same.[3]

India has been harping on the theme that there is “Enough Space” for all but it has fallen on deaf ears of China. Not-with-standing US president Barack Obama’s recent assurances to its allies in the region Beijing, perhaps believes that the U.S. will not react aggressively to its moves. Hence India has a big role to play here if its wants to influence world affairs to protect its interests. The free world is also waiting to see India rise to its full potential and take its rightful place under the sun.[4] 

India’s spontaneous and unreserved participation in United Nations Peace Keeping Operations over the years has been a clear reflection of the country’s commitment to the objectives set out in the UN Charter. This has been acknowledged by the UN’s and added on to the soft power credentials of India.[5]

On the defense and strategic preparedness front the development of ballistic missile defense system; a secure operating system for defense communication system; Eye in the sky (Indian Reconnaissance Satellite); acquiring of the nuclear triad along with the Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya are the steps towards the right direction. Steps have been taken to acquaint the civil and military personnel about Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) warfare and disaster management which may be required in the situation of nuclear holocaust which can be a possibility with a nuclearized Pakistan in the region along with the presence of domineering China, with latter's cut and thrust posture is well known globally and especially in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), lowering the guard is not an option in this scenario.

On the other hand, The 1.18 million strong  Indian Army is not only grappling with shortages in howitzers, helicopters, air defense weapons and night fighting capabilities, new generation infantry weapons and the like, but also does not have enough ammunition reserves to sustain a full-fledged war for even 20 days when it should be adequate for 40 days, the government should give active support for Army’s Rs.19, 250 Cr new ammunition road-map so that we are not found in a lurch at the time of crisis internal or external.

Patriotism and Nation's interests can’t be relegated to a back stage in the era of cultural relativism and the rise of global village, that’s the hard fact of realism.  The rhetoric of  “Clash of Civilizations and Remaking of the World Order” in the seminal work of Samuel P Huntington may have takers in the contemporary world but with the use of smart power by a responsible nation like India it can get around from all the fault-lines of international politics and get her agenda through with-out fiddling her thumbs. These multi-pronged final push by India for the coveted position is a valid reason for “The UNSC should represent the Geo-Political Realities of 21st century rather than frozen global structure of post 1945 era.”.

According to Kishore Mahbubani, the US was uncomfortable with the G-4 proposal to increase UNSC membership to 25. Can India, unlike Sisyphus, successfully push the boulder of UNSC reform to the summit? He stated, - "why not?". He emphasized that India’s case for a permanent seat on the UNSC is indisputable. Like China, it represents almost a fifth of humanity. Its GDP is number three in the world in purchasing power parity terms. It is also acknowledged as a legitimate nuclear power. As the eminent Financial Times writer, Martin Wolf has said, “Within a decade, a world in which the United Kingdom is on the United Nations Security Council and India is not will seem beyond laughable. The old order passes into the new and the sooner the world adjusts the better.” If India’s case is indisputable, why are India’s labors so Sisyphean? The simple answer is that any reform of the UNSC will be a packaged deal.

The big question that India faces in UNSC reform is an obvious one: can it be equally cunning as the other great powers and propose a formula that will, unlike Sisyphus, result in India successfully pushing the boulder of UNSC reform to the summit? The simple answer is that it can. It is been proposed by Kishore Mahbubani in his book, “The Great Convergence: Asia, the West and the Logic of One World”, that India should advocate a new 7-7-7 formula for UNSC reform, where there would be seven permanent members, seven semi-permanent members and seven elected members.

In short, India has a simple strategic choice to make if it wants to succeed in its quest to become a permanent member of the UNSC. It can continue to push the G-4 formula and end up like Sisyphus, almost reaching the top but never reaching the top. Or it could support the 7-7-7 formula and succeed in its quest.[6]

On the show, world view on CNN-IBN Suhasini Haider interacted with an esteemed panel. Following are some of the excerpts of the interaction which will help us make our own conclusions and deductions. When asked by Haider that when the G-4, tabled a resolution demanding a permanent UN seat in 2005 in such a scenario the question is India's quest for a Security Council permanent seat a possibility or just a pipe dream?

H S Puri replied  - "I think yes. We have moved significantly closer to the final outcome, but I will not go to the extent of saying that we have reached the destination point. Some hard negotiations remain ….to ensure that we are able to consolidate the gains and work forward to achieve our ultimate objective.”

While Arundhati Ghosh replied -“A pipe dream seems to imply that it's impossible. I don't think it is impossible. But it is a difficult job and it is going to be a long one because the forces against reform are very complex. Those who do not think that the Security Council's taken on too much legislative power away from the General Assembly. And those that have rivalries, bilateral rivalries, India-Pakistan, India-China, Germany- Italy, Brazil -Mexico Argentina, South Africa-Nigeria-Egypt.”

To the teaser posted by Haider to Richard Roth (UN Correspondent, CNN): -The fact we in India seem to think that India is at the forefront of that race, but there are so much more. He replied “Well I think the number of years I have been here, being rivaling the number of potential countries that want to be on a reformed expanded UN Security Council. ….Certainly, the looming powers such as India, Nigeria, Brazil, I mean everybody wants to be on but they are all rivals.”

He had this take on the US support of India and the other countries in the fray “... look I don't want to quash anyone's hopes but I think in the near term no one should expect this to be resolved. The United States has certain countries they would mind being on and may privately indicate at certain nations that yes we favor you but then there is going to be a maybe a new administration in power within a year or five years who knows and the thing may start all over again.”

On the question of whether it is worthwhile or is India making a laughing stock of herself for pushing the UNSC reforms agenda, Ambassador Arundhati Ghosh stated “Why? You are talking about Libya; you are talking about the upsurge in the Middle East, Afghanistan. Look at the economic crisis and look at the four countries who want to be on the Security Council. Of course, Security Council deals with International Peace and Security. But do you think International Peace and Security can be maintained if the economies of the world are in a tail spray? Who are the countries who everybody is looking at? So certainly with our size, we should be there but it means you keep trying. Should we have given up? You won’t get the UNSC permanent seat if you give up.” 

While Shashi Tharoor opined “Well I don't think any one country including India will get it alone. I think either there will be a reform, a reform that opens the door to a number of contenders or there would be no reform. ….This is an institution which is trying to reform and revitalize itself to bring in all the relevant stakeholders for effective action in the 21st century.” [7].

In the end, I conclude that the above-mentioned credentials, arguments, and discussions are the basis on which our claim is substantiated for UNSC permanent seat with or without veto power. Our record as a member of United Nations is excellent and impressive and there are no second thoughts about it. Moreover, on the issue of the big prize, I opine that it’s a question of  effort, time and patience, whether India will get the seat on the horseshoe shaped high table in New York, all though its credentials and record are just right for it. 

About the Author:

Manish Yadava (TR RID : L-8456-2016), The author is an Associate Professor in the Department of International Relations at the College of Arts and Social Sciences, Adi keyih National Commission for Higher Education (Asmara University). He is an alumnus of Indian Law Institute and Indian Society of International Law, New Delhi, India (V K Krishna Menon Memorial Gold Medalist) and an Associate Member of Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses, New Delhi he has also served as a UNDP-UNV Doctor in Malawi (Africa) in the near past, his special Interest lies in International Organizations, Strategic Affairs, and Humanitarian Diplomacy.

Cite this Article:

Yadava, M. "FEATURED | The High Time for the ‘Horseshoe Shaped’ High Table For India. Is it?" IndraStra Global Vol. 002, Issue No:08 (2016) 0028. http://www.indrastra.com/2016/08/FEATURED-High-Time-for-Horseshoe-shaped-High-Table-for-India-002-08-2016-0028.html. ISSN 2381-3652


[1]. Proceedings of National Seminar on (12-02-2014) on the theme “United Nations Security Council Reforms: Perspectives and Prospects” organized by Ministry of External Affairs-India and Institute of Defense and Strategic Analyses, New Delhi. 

[2]. Hammarskjold. D: A Biography by Joseph P. Lash, The Political Quarterly, Vol: 33, Issue3, pp-321-343, July 1962.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-923x.1962.tb02739.x/pdf, accessed and retrieved on 6.6.2014 

[3]. Biswal.T (Edited) International Relations, 2009, Macmillan Publishers India Ltd, New Delhi.  Contemporary World: Issues and Actors (United Nations: Political Strengths and Weaknesses, pp-351-393. 

[4]. Foreign Policy Agenda for the New Government, May 27, 2014, Policy Brief, www.idsa.in accessed and retrieved on 6.6.2014. 

[5]. The Blue Helmets: A Review of United Nations Peace Keeping.2nd and 3rd Edition, www.un.org/Pubs/textbook/e96bhh.htm accessed and retrieved on 6.6.2014. 

[7]. (PDF) Opinion-Kishore Mahbubani,www.mahbubani.net/…/To%20the%20new%20new%20order,%20strategically.pd, accessed and retrieved on 6.6.2014. 

[8]. India’s Quest for Permanent UNSC seat a pipedream…ibnlive.in.com/news/indias-quest-for…unsc…a…/251396-64-139.html, accessed and retrieved on 6.6.2014.

AIDN0020820160028 / INDRASTRA / ISSN 2381-3652 / FEATURED | The High Time for the "Horseshoe Shaped" High Table For India. Is it? / Manish Yadava Asmara University, Eritrea