India got a boost with the US and France’s support for a permanent seat at the UNSC. However, will this ‘support’ materialise and turn the tide in India’s favour or will it be just another rhetorical promise for many decades? That’s certainly a wait and watch game for New Delhi.
With India’s growing economic clout, time has arrived to pressurise other nations to get the best deal out. But given India’s soft stand on strategic/diplomatic issues, it seems a far cry from reality.
G Parthasarthy, India’s former High Commissioner and an authority on foreign affairs, shared his views with Biplob Ghosal of Zeenews.com on the Indo-France talks as well as other wide ranging strategic issues.
Biplob: Both the US and France have openly supported India for a permanent seat at the UNSC. Are these statements just an ego massage for New Delhi or do the big powers really mean business?
Parthasarthy: I do not think we should not believe that statements of support from the US and France will translate into our getting permanent membership of the Security Council anytime soon. China has made it clear that it does not favour expansion in Permanent Membership and even suggested to the Americans that such expansion is neither in its interests nor in the interests of the US. Moreover, there is no consensus in Africa about which two African countries will represent the continent in an expanded Security Council.
It is hardly likely that in these circumstances either France or the US will lobby strongly in the Security Council in India’s favour till there is consensus on issues like how many new permanent members are to be inducted and what is to be the size of a reconstituted UN Security Council. Despite these complications, one cannot but welcome what Presidents Obama and Sarkozy have recently said, because these statements signal their recognition of the positive role that India can play globally.
Biplob: This is probably the first time in history when the West needs India as much – if not more – as we need them. Do you agree with this observation? If yes, then what needs to be done to leverage this position to our advantage?
Parthasarthy: I think that for different reasons, India and the West need each other equally in the current world scenario. We need to be a lot more proactive on issues of regional stability and security not only in South Asia, but across the Asia-Pacific and even in the Gulf and Central Asian Regions. India has to emerge as the key player for stability and security in the Indian Ocean Region for it to win wider international respect.
Biplob: How do you view France’s stand on Pakistan Vis-à-vis terrorism? Can India expect any tangible and resolute action from the international community in order to eliminate threats from individuals and organisations propagating terrorism from the soil of Pakistan?
Parthasarthy: We will get voices of sympathy on problems of terrorism that we face. But in an ultimate analysis, even God cannot help those who will not or cannot help themselves.
Biplob: With heads of government of major world powers visiting India this year, do you agree with the US President’s statement that "India is not emerging; India has emerged”?
Parthasarthy: The US President’s statement is welcome, but we should not get carried away. How can we honestly claim to have “emerged” when hundreds of millions of our people live below the poverty line and we are now widely regarded as being a country afflicted by corruption and maladministration?