There’s apparently no end to the Indian government’s naivete even with a supposedly hardheaded Narendra Modi running the show. New Delhi discovered anew — surprise! surprise! — that the Big Three — the US, China and Russia far from helping lubricate India’s much-craved passage into membership of the UN Security Council, will actually go all out, use every means and underhanded stratagem, to ensure India does not get within even smelling distance of it. Originally, the MEA touted the adoption of a consensus resolution to use the long-in-the-works framework document laying out the case for the expansion of the Security Council by the UN General Assembly as basis for negotiation, as an enormous success and show of India’s diplomatic heft. Once it became clear to our diplomatic dunderheads — who cannot see the obvious barreling down at them — that it would be rough going with Moscow and Beijing, doing the dirty work also of the US, being intent on injecting some esoteric/tangential technical issues into the negotiating text to guarantee long many years of further frustrating (from Delhi’s perspective) negotiations before anything is brought to the main stage of negotiation, the MEA is now satisfied with having thwarted the Chinese-led moves designed to derail the consideration of India for a permanent seat in the UNSC. As victories go, this was distinctly minor stuff — more procedural than substantive — but not if you believe the MEA!
The real hard slog begins now. One hopes the Modi government is going into this with its eyes wide open and not with some fluff in their brains that the path is cleared for India to take its place at the apex level. That age when Nehru in the mid-Fifties was offered the Koumintang China-Taiwan’s seat in UNSC by both the US and USSR and which offer the Indian PM in a fit of extreme national self-abnegation summarily and contemptuously rejected, canvassing successfully to seat Maozedong’s China in the UNSC instead, is now long gone. But the ramification of that bit of extraordinarily foolish generosity is that the now ensconced China is determined to veto India’s entry and make it pay the full price and more for Nehru’s stupidity and/or cupidity. But the harsh reality is still not digested by New Delhi despite fifty years of evidence that the clear-eyed Chinese leadership will simply not permit India’s ascent. Why else would MEA and GOI persist in still trying to somehow wrangle UNSC membership? What the GOI and Modi don’t seem to understand is that in international affairs there are, in fact, no friends — “good friend, Barak” notwithstanding, only interests. And the collective interest of the Big-5 does not lie in letting India or any other country into UNSC. So, Washington will look on from the sidelines, watch China-Russia play the bad guys until they falter, when it will step in and finish of what slight chance remains. Remember how the Clinton Admin helped introduce the “rolling text” in the CTBT negotiations in Geneva in 1995-96, ultimately forcing Delhi to cry “Uncle” and Ambassador Arundhati Ghose, under express instructions from a strong willed PM, Deve Gowda, to tell the Big-5 where to get off with her stirring sign-off — India will sign the CTBT “not now, not ever”?
This analyst has been saying for over 25 years that a UNSC seat is worthless, specially one without the veto power which is the most Delhi can expect 20 years down the line!!! Mark my words. Shouldn’t this be a matter of national self respect and a time to resolve by way of policy direction that India, because denied the UNSC entry on merits, has no stakes in the UN body and its agencies, and that it will do all it can to undermine it, which threat it can then carry out without fuss and on the sly and sans any public hoo-ha, starting with ensuring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Fissile Material Control Treaty are buried in the Committee on Disarmament.
The reason this won’t happen are twofold: Because (1) Modi exaggerates the power of his personal relationships — with Obama, Putin, Xi. So far it has fetched him nothing. But he will persist in the belief that he and India are something special!, and (2) MEA staffed by Indian Foreign Service officers will upend any such move because most of them aspire to service at the UN HQ secretariat or in some US agency where there is little work but fat pay-packet and tax-free pension. India will fall at these two hurdles and will continue to strive futilely for an UNSC seat while spurning the one way it would, in fact, be invited into that club — by moving fast and hard in doing things frowned upon by the Big-5 which would upset their applecart.
Such as resuming open-ended thermonuclear testing and transferring nuclear materials, natural uranium reactors and whole weapons and missile systems, along with expertise, to states in Central Asia and Southeast Asia on China’s and Russia’s peripheries and scramble America’s nonproliferation calculus — the sort of thing that will frighten all three into abruptly ceding ground. Sustained and stealthy acts of disruption — highly regarded, and cannily used, by Beijing and a wily Pakistan Army over the years — is India’s short-cut and ticket to great power. A North Korea or a Pakistan can’t pull it off. But, India can. Except Indian leaders are mostly big talk, not big action, lack the iron will and the guts. Besides, disruptive activity has never been appreciated by the MEA mandarins. Small wonder then that between our leaders and the babus the nation and its interests get shafted.