Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Opportunity to be Seized

After a huge loss - by over 100 votes - to Japan in its last bid, India finally became a non-permanent member of the world's top table: the United Nations Security Council. A body that was create by 40-odd countries (including India) right after the Second World War, the UNSC assumed a greater role in International security after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The countries on the UNSC have the unique ability to change the course of the world in many ways.

This is only the seventh time since the UN's formation that India has been elected to the UNSC as a non-permanent member. However, this time is quite different from the last ones: India is today more powerful on the International stage than it has ever been before and can add to the overall security of the world. Or, it could toe the Western (read, American line) on all issues and thus hope to gain more favours from Uncle Sam.

India won this tenure at the UNSC after a lot of hard work, which is evident from the fact that we got 187 votes, including, we are told, Pakistan's vote. This opportunity must not be dwindled. India must take an Independent stand on various issues. The biggest issue of all will undoubtedly be the Iranian Nuclear Issue, in which India will have to show great maturity between its conflicting interests: being an ally of Iran on one hand and being absolutely against a nuclear-armed Iran on the other. We must also raise our voice against human rights violations around the world while at the same time try to convince whatever skeptics are left on the Kashmir issue.

Expectations are high for this term that India has obtained, given the fact that the next one may also take 19 years or even more to come. The Golden chalice - permanent membership - must be pursued vigorously. The current composition of the UNSC includes BRIC as well as IBSA, two of India's most important multilateral fora. Now is the time to introduce serious debate within the UNSC itself on reforms to make it more commensurate with the new millennium.

Great challenges lie ahead for Indian diplomats now. But the current New York team that won the bid must be congratulated, as must be External Affairs Minister SM Krishna. We have the opportunity to demonstrate our leadership now: and we must seize it.

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