In the UN General Assembly that was held recently, the representatives of states such as Jamaica, Bhutan, and Nepal praised India for its assistance during the uncertain time of the pandemic. By providing free doses of vaccines, financial aid, and further being a voice of multilateralism and regional stability, India has evolved as the perfect candidate for a permanent seat in the UNSC.

After the end of World War II, the world order has been evolving and the UNSC now requires a fairer representation to reflect the shifting trajectories of the world. This ambition has led to the formation of different groupings, mainly the G4 comprising of India, Brazil, Germany, and Japan. Formed in 2004, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the G4 Nations have been strong candidates for permanent representation in the UNSC and have also vouched for the inclusion of African states in the UNSC. 

Being the world’s largest democracy with over 1.3 billion people, the 5th largest economy, and a voice for developing countries, India has an elevated position in the power structure of the world. India, which is a founding member of the UN, is amongst the largest contributors of manpower to the UN peacekeeping missions. After gaining independence, India took a stance of non-alignment and became a model for developing countries to focus on themselves rather than being dependent on major power blocks. Through its ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’, and participation in regional organisations such as SAARC and BIMSTEC, India has sought to establish regional stability and cooperation. 

At the 20th Session of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation, Minister of State for External Affairs of India, Shri V. Muraleedharan mentioned India’s “Line of credit of over US$ 30 billion”, which was being provided as development finance to over 64 countries, including South Asia and Africa, and “India-UN Development Partnership Fund”, which support “South-owned and South-led sustainable development projects with a focus on LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS”. Through the Vaccine Maitri’ Scheme announced in early 2021, India provided free and affordable vaccines to various countries, and donated Vaccines to the ‘Blue Helmets’ serving in the Peacekeeping missions, strengthening its position as an altruistic state as well as a suitable candidate for a permanent UNSC seat.

Furthermore, the current Russia-Ukraine crisis has left room for thought regarding the prospects of having a multi aligned state such as India in dealing situations related to de-escalation of war, and conflict of interest. At a joint press meeting by the foreign representatives of the USA and India on September 27, 2022, Anthony Blinken stated that “with India holding the presidency of the Security Council in December, and taking over the presidency of the G20 next year, we’ll be able to drive more concerted global cooperation and action together.” 

A major challenge India faces against the possibility of having a permanent seat in the UNSC is China. In the past, four countries of the P5 apart from China expressed their willingness to adopt India as a permanent member of the UNSC. However, China with which India shares years of hostility opposes this idea. Another state with which India shares borders and years of hostility is Pakistan, which is a member of the ‘Coffee Club’. This group aims at opposing the objectives and reforms proposed by the G4. In addition, words can be deceiving, and it is rather obvious that despite support, none of the P5 countries will be willing to dilute their hegemony by extending the permanent seats at the UNSC. 

Contemporary events in world politics have shown how the privilege of VETO is being abused by member states through involvement in war and conflict. Since the beginning of the Russia – Ukraine Crisis, the Western countries around the world have often been eager to blame India for buying cheap oil and gas from Russia. However, what the West should understand is that India can’t compromise its relations with Russia, which in the past has supported India in the UNSC using its VETO. 

The External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaisankar once stated that “Defending the outcome of World War II does not mean freezing the world order in 1945 forever”. It is evident that the United Nations as a whole has failed to represent the needs of changing political realities and that there has been a decreasing focus on the UN as a platform for cooperation, and more on regional and multilateral organisations. India through its cooperation in organisation and groupings such as BIMSTEC, G20, and SCO wagers the move towards a reformed multilateral world. 

Austin Paul Research Intern, CPPR

Views expressed by the author are personal and need not reflect or represent the views of the Centre for Public Policy Research.

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