Does India need to take a diplomatic ‘sledge hammer’ to get a permanent seat on the UN security council?

The G20 leaders’ meeting to be hosted by India and chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is soon to be upon the world. India, through him will make a strong case to be given permanent membership status on the UN’s Security Council. However, there are a number of key reasons India has yet to get […]

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The G20 leaders’ meeting to be hosted by India and chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is soon to be upon the world. India, through him will make a strong case to be given permanent membership status on the UN’s Security Council. However, there are a number of key reasons India has yet to get such a strategically important membership. In short, China is the primary culprit.
The view, according to the Times of India is that Beijing has avoided a direct response on whether it is for the inclusion of India as permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC). Not coincidentally, it seems China’s  President Xi Jinping will not be attending  the G20 as he may not want  to hear New Delhi strongly reiterate through the meeting’s chair, its position not only on LOC territorial tension issues, but on the UNSC reform ones, as well.  From the Economic Times it stated, “China is the only country among five permanent members of the UNSC which is opposing India’s entry into the highest body of UN, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said at the Parliamentary Consultative Committee for External Affairs meeting on Saturday.Aug 5, 2023.”
On the other hand, by all appearances, the United States is decisively supportive of New Delhi on this issue. As written in the Hindustan Times,  “Sharing the view that global governance must be more inclusive and representative, President Biden reiterated US support for India’s permanent membership on a reformed UN Security Council (UNSC) the joint statement read.” Regarding Moscow, according to India TV, News,  “Russia backs India’s permanent membership at the UNSC.”  But it has to be remembered that even back in 2005 according to one academic article written by Mohan Malik, and titled “Security Council Reform: China Signals its Veto,” China has for decades not wanted to see India advance its global position on international security. it should not be forgotten that the US and others see new membership to the permanent  level needs to include Japan to which China’s historical memory of Tokyo’s atrocities and colonialism are fresh in the minds of many Chinese, continually educated on this even through TV dramas. Any expansion beyond the Permanent Five (P5) would be demanded by Tokyo to have to include Japan, likely simultaneously with India’s ascension. It is a Japan that makes serious budget contributions to the UN, over 8 percent of total budget in fact, ranking it third just behind China according to UN statistics. Yet, Japan is in near vicinity, striking distance to China with Japan’s  maritime defence forces  ranked as the fifth or near sixth largest in the world – World Directory of Modern Military Warships (WDMMW).  As well for bad.news,  Russia  may not push support so much of New Delhi’s position as Moscow’s partnership with China is considered vital to it. Furthermore, Moscow is not well sold on India’s membership in the Quad as expressed by high Russian officials. The headline in deccanherald.com says it all, “Russia slams Quad after India defends it.”
Meanwhile, as I expressed in a former piece in this newspaper that it is wise that India and China get along better for economics and no doubt on UN reform. Even US President  Biden has effectively a two track policy on China including inclusion on some fronts and moving towards overall toning down on the anti-China rhetoric more prevalent in the earlier term of his office. New Delhi need not forget there is not unanimity in Washington to be so positive towards it as the White House is. And globalists who have even preferred to have invested in China, call Prime Minister Narendra Modi a non democrat and even an authoritarian – quite bizarre . So, given this resistance, would the US Congress be so open enough to India getting  a permanent  seat before the next US and  Indian federal elections, in particular. I doubt it but it is still possible  Rather, US President Biden saying he is for India joining may be simply at the very least in the end be used by Indophobes to provide a (further) wedge issue between India and China to their perceived benefit of US national interests to try to keep India down.
So what to do? There is need for more realism.  For example, when the US thought the UN was walking over its interests, it threatened to pull out of that body. And did so with regard to UNESCO, a UN main agency,  to make its positions clear. That threat had some punch to it given that Washington contributed 20 to 25 percent  of the UN›s budget and as host of the UN›s headquarters.These and related pressures by Washington have worked – even, too well making the UN too compliant to Washington some argue. Nevertheless, India might learn from this despite not having the full leverage that Washington had at the time – or still, does.
Firstly, instead of having such a harsh position at first as the US Reagan administration had to the UN, India  could start with important smaller pressures. As a signal it might get think tanks to reflect on India pulling out of the UN, if not  provided a permanent seat, which would be a major nail to a UN coffin if realized by India given its importance. It would shake things up to speed up the process. To begin with, it could make itself absent  in the UN General Assembly fairly frequently, especially on votes key to the Chinese and speeches by Beijing›s delegations . It could do the same for the Security Council. If things do not progress sufficiently, it could use the «nuclear» political option if the UN in five years does not  get it a permanent seat – to pull out of the UN  political and security organs.  I have been an observer of the UN for many years, and worked collaboratively with it and  a UN ambassador. All of  this makes me agree with India that to have success, it cannot pussyfoot  around with UN officials to push China harder to give some way. The  Modi Way has always been strong in protecting India›s national interests. Further, the South which represents many UN members is fed up with the current status quo of zero Security Council reform over even post-colonial times. This is so much so now, given a very different world today of growing multipolarity. India may, indeed need  to push  down somewhat more to get China to be more receptive to such reform. But in the end, China cannot afford to alienate the South on this issue  as the developing world connects more into the West›s views on UN reform than Beijing›s, with even Russia seeming more open to UN reform. If necessary, pounding away for UN reform may be continuously needed along with better relations with Beijing.