Status of a developing nation

India and UNSC

India has come a long way from the status of an under- developed nation to the status of a developing nation. It is considered an emerging global power in the world and a hegemon in South Asia. India's role is of paramount significance for the long term security and stability of the South Asian region. Improved bilateral relations between India on the one hand and China, Pakistan and US on the other, promises to transform global geo-politics and the balance of power, where India may emerge as a "swing state" (Norling). In the world arena, India takes up the role of "Swing state" in the global balance of power. Not only does this impact India's responsibility in world affairs and raise the consequence of its foreign policies, it gives it a unique role as a balancer, able to influence, and be influenced by all these states. Apart from being the most populous country India also has a substantial military status, a growing economy with some world class sectors and democratic political institutions that have withstood countless vicissitudes (Ganguly). Consequently, India's place in the global order merits careful scrutiny. Despite this India has not gained the permanent membership in the UNSC

Since the establishment of UN in 1945, India plays a unique role representing the countries in the Non-Alignment Moment (NAM). The constant growth of the Indian Influence in the Sub-Continent region remains unnoticed. The expansion of the Security Council is widely spoken these days and New Delhi believes it stands well ahead than any other contesters to obtain a permanent seat in the Security Council. Indian hegemony is being challenged by its uncertain relationship with its neighbours and an UNSC permanent membership counts in numerous ways for this growing giant.

This paper will analyse why India is pursuing the United Nations Security Councils permanent membership. The first part addresses India's relations with the Security Council since its Independence followed by The UNSC Reform. The second part examines India's existing eligibility for being an UNSC permanent member followed by the central theme of the paper on why India is pursuing the UNSC seat . The conclusion looks at the way ahead, paying special attention to India's claim if it is a realistic dream

INDIA and the Security Council:

With the formation of UN in 1945, Mahatma Gandhi believed that India must become a permanent member of the Security Council. As the Indian leaders were more focused on gaining Independence for their country from British and hence passed up the opportunity India had on gaining a permanent seat (Cohen, 2001).As a new independent nation, India became one of the original 51 countries to sign the UN Charter and therefore formally became the member of the United Nation on 30 October 1945.Since then India has been actively participating in the Security Council in carrying out the commitment in Article 51 "promote international peace and security; to maintain just and honourable relations among nations; to foster respect for International Law and treaty obligations in the dealings of organised peoples with one another; and to encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration and other peaceful means", India feels that UN is a platform for global negotiations and diplomacy.

India has followedsocialist policies for most of its history, which includes extensive public ownership, regulation,red tape, andtrade barriers (Economic_history_of_India). India's foreign policy has followed a realistic and a pragmatic approach even during the unsatisfactory resolution provided by the UN on the Kashmir issue. India first approached the SC over the issue on Kashmir in 1952. India was first selected as a Non-permanent member of UNSC in 1950 for a two year period. During this tenure, the UNSC embraced three resolutions on the India-Pakistan which was abstained by India (Rajamohan, 2002).

India's relation with the Security Council was strained between 1960 and 1980 over many issues. Firstly in 1964, India claimed for a disarmament treaty against China's first nuclear test in the UN. Later in 1971 India's intervention on East Pakistan was criticized by the UNSC (who was ready to impose bans on India, which was restricted by the Soviet Union's veto status) but she claimed that "it was trying to end one of the world's biggest genocides" (Dayal, 2005).

India has used the General Assembly of the UN as a platform to voice some of the global issues like imperialism, colonialism and apartheid. For example it addressed against the racial discrimination in South Africa in 1954 and in 1965 it supported the economic boycott of Rhodesia, an initiative taken by UN. Since 1960's India has played an important role in Third World issues in setting up the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and politically through creation of a New International Economic Order (NIEO) in 1974. India believed that it was the voice for all the issues faced by the developing nations or the Third World and proved to the world that it's a vanguard in the international arena by providing an alternative International Organization structure to the Cold war rival blocks by leading the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) of decolonised nations. "India was an early champion of the concept of peaceful coexistence between the communist bloc and the free world. That alternate voice is now being heard and several of the current reform proposals insist on the inclusion of countries from the developing world so that the Global South is represented on the Council" (Rajamohan, 2002).

'Indian foreign policy is said to combine Gandhian non-violence with a touch of Kissinger-like pragmatism' (Why India?, 2003). India has always been a peace loving nation centred on Nehru's Panchsheel objectives with its approach to other nations. Except for the border disputes with its neighbours India has no record of starting a war in its glorifying history. "India's commitment to the UN Charter and maintenance of peace and security - a guiding factor in the selection of additional Council members - is evidenced by the fact that India has been an energetic and influential participant in the UN debates on peacekeeping" (Mathur, 2005).

India has contributed a large number of soldiers (more than 67,000 (Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping, 2003)) for United Nations peace-keeping missions (37 out of 56 till 2003 (Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping, 2003)) over the years especially in maintaining the peace and stability in the Asian and African continent. Currently India is the third largest troop contributor to the United Nations and has also allotted a brigade of soldiers for the UN Standby arrangements. It has taken part in several peace-keeping operations around the world namely, Congo,Cyprus,Cambodia,Yemen,Somalia,Rwanda,Namibia, Sinai Peninsula by providing military personnel's. During the UN operation in Somalia, India has provided naval unit by patrolling the shores as well as transportation of UN staff and materials. Recently India has even involved in another role as Police observers and election observers, which can be seen in the UN operations in Cambodia, Mozambique and Congo.

In 1990's after becoming a nuclear power and also with a steady economic growth India has changed its perception of itself and also the world's perception on it. This seems like a double edged sword to the P5 because India as a nuclear power seems to add eligibility for the UNSC seat. "On the one hand, being a nuclear power seems to add to India's legitimacy of gaining a permanent seat. On the other hand, India's policies on nuclear power in the past have come under severe criticism from the UN (Mathur, 2005)."

Reform of UNSC: Voice of the world

"For the United Nations, success in meeting the challenges of globalization ultimately comes down to meeting the needs of peoples. It is in their name that the Charter was written; realizing their aspirations remains our vision for the twenty-first century."

From the Millennium Report

The UN General Assembly adopted a Resolution 47/62 entitled "The Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the UN Security Council" (A/RES/47/62, 1992) in 1992. Firstly Today's council no longer symbolizes the modern political realities which represent less than 8 percent of its 192 members. Secondly the present council reflects the interests of the western world. "The Security Council, therefore, has been widely viewed as unrepresentative and lacking in credibility. From its inception, all power in the UN came to be concentrated in the Security Council, specifically with the P-5 who were given the power to veto" (Mahubani, 2004).

Therefore it is a valid reason for the emerging countries to ask for a reform. The question of concern is known to be; is the emerging countries the future of UN? To answer the question firstly, UN should adjust to the changing politics in the world and also must be represented by one member state from each continent. If the emerging countries are not given their rightful acceptance, it will lead them to form a separate alliance which will turn to be a rivalry for the UN in the future. I believe it will be fool-hardy of UN not to find a solution for this issues in the near future otherwise its legitimacy is at stake.

Though there are the 10 non permanent members with a two - year term, they have no power in the council against the permanent five (P5) members. The legitimacy and transparency is at stake. Despite the Charter provision that the veto should not be used for procedural issues, the P-5 is allowed to use their veto implicitly in many closed-door consultations (Mahubani, 2004). Most UN General Assembly members seem to support an enlargement of the Council in the non-permanent category (Fassbeder, 2004). For the enlargement of the permanent seat there seems to be a divide on who is eligible for it. Currently India, Germany, Brazil and Japan are the frontrunners for permanent membership.

Currently the United Nations in general is undergoing crises. The need for reforms of the Security Council, the argument being the UNSC represents the distribution of power in 1945 and does not consider the current geo political status quo. The other problem is the north-south divide, where UNSC legitimacy comes into question. The reform for the United Nations has been under discussion since early 1990 are where currently the veto power is the main issue and also regional politics especially between Japan and China, India and Pakistan, Germany and US.

Even if the emerging countries (most of them being southern countries) are not the main players in the field of International peace, they have become the main contributors of troops for peace keeping operations whereas the Northern Countries finances them. Therefore there is an uneven distribution of risk between the North and the South. The reason for this "surplus" are numerous lack of interest among western countries; payment for UN troops that offer the emerging countries the means to help finance their armies while keeping soldiers outside a countries borders; new arguments in favour of a security council permanent Security Council member seat; assertion of the role of regional powers; involvement in areas having considerable strategic and energy interests (Jaffrelot).

Kofi Annan decided to establish a High Level Panel of eminent personalities in 2002 to which he assigned four responsibilities: "first, to examine the current challenges to peace and security; second, to consider the contribution which collective action can make in addressing these challenges; third, to review the functioning of the major organs of the United Nations and the relationship between them; and fourth, to recommend ways of strengthening the United Nations through reform of its institutions and processes" (UN, 2003).

The panel report highlighted the challenge for Security Council reform: to make the Council more representative by broadening membership, especially from the developing world; to increase the effectiveness of the Council, by enhancing its capacity and willingness to act in the fact of threats (UN, A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, 2004)."The panel proposed two options for reform, both involving distribution of seats between four major regional areas - Africa, Asia and Pacific, Europe and the Americas. Model A suggested adding six new permanent members and three non-permanent members; Model B suggested no new permanent seats but the creation of a new tier of eight renewable term seats, two each from Asia and Pacific, Africa, Europe and the Americas, who would serve for four years. Model B also included one new non-renewable seat. The panel also suggested that there should be a review of the composition of the Security Council in 2020 from the point of view of the Council's effectiveness in taking collective action to prevent and remove new and old threats to international peace and security" (UN, A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, 2004).Another model proposed by Ben Freeman, the Executive Director of People for a Democratic and Effective UN suggests a reform consisting of ten nations sharing five seats: Nigeria and Egypt, India and Pakistan, Japan and Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico, Germany and Turkey (Mathur, 2005). Freeman's reform proposal most significantly includes four Islamic countries since he believes that the need of the hour is to bring the Muslim world into the forefront to help fight terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism (Freeman, 2005).

India's eligibility for UNSC permanent membership

According to Michael J. Kelly in "UN Security Council Permanent Membership: A New Proposal for a Twenty First Century Council" , he proposes the criteria as : Population, Financial and Military Contribution, Economic Strength, Democratic Government, willingness to enforce UNSC actions, Influence in World Affairs and Adherence to UNSC principles.

Considering these criteria's with respect to India, Firstly India represents 15% of the world population. In reality nearly 1/4th of world's voice is not represented in the United Nations decision. Secondly, After Independence, India has greatly focused on strengthening its military and updating its technology. It constitutes the third largest troops for UN peace-keeping. Over 55,000 Indian Military and Police personnel have served under the UN flag in 35 UN peace keeping operations in all the continents of the globe. Major General Randhir Kumar Mehta has been appointed as the world body's Military Adviser for peace keeping. This is the first time that a nominee from a developing country has occupied this highly prestigious post. Thirdly, India is one of the fastest economic growing countries in Asia and its economy is now worth 1 trillion. Goldman Sacks has estimated that for the next 30 years India will have a close to double digit growth rate. India is powered by its vast internal markets therefore it will become a destination for foreign investments. Fourthly, the basic principle of India's constitution is that of liberal democracy which 'fits into the urgent need for democratising the Council'[1]. India supported the establishment of UNICEF on a permanent basis, the creation of UNDP, the establishment of UNEP, the restructuring of the UN in economic and social fields and is currently supporting the UN Development Fund (UN, UN Reform Process). Fifthly, India has a great advantage with its geographical position. Indian Ocean is used by many countries for trade and commerce. Currently India has taken the responsibility of policing the Indian Ocean, terming it as a "Zone of Peace". Lastly, India considers itself to be a status-quo power in south Asia and has a strong political influence in the region. Compared to the foreign policy before 1990, India's coordinating has considerably increased in the recent years. The Sri Lankan internal conflict was successfully handled with the assistance from India. India has played a proactive role in restoration of peace in the world. It has been a great exponent in the non-alignment concept. Out of 112 NAM countries none has the UNSC permanent seat.

Why India is pursuing the Security Council Membership:

Since independence, India has been largely associated with UN and was seen as the representing body of under-developed nations. This image is gradually taken off by India which attempts to be more calculative and enchanting to pull out the necessary deal.

The Indian central government believes that the engagement of international society will make their way more sophisticated in the future in terms of economic growth and national security. We can take a few recent issues to analyze India's international interest. The terrorist attack on the state's financial capital was dealt multilaterally unlike the previous similar mishaps. India registered an average of 6% growth in the crisis hit years (2008-2009). Since 1991 India's growth rate keeps accelerating except in 1998-1999 which was interrupted by the Kargil War. This gives an insight that Indian economy is strong enough to survive a long recession but its uncertain relationship with its neighbours is the major threat for future growth. India is aware that solving the regional issues are prime requirements but to do it in favour of India it requires additional power. Therefore India believes that by attaining a permanent seat in the UNSC it can interpret its own interest as global interest and can achieve its domestic goals much easily.

Chinese regime is the firm reason for India's interest in UNSC. China's unilateralism in achieving their claims is a serious threat to India and a military conflict at this stage will be much costlier for India. New Delhi's reaction in the recent years are matured and well targeted. It tries to postpone the immediate issue which is forced to be attended. For instance the border conflicts with Pakistan and China are handled tactically by avoiding conventional dialogues and also without losing the ground. This shows that India is preparing itself by gaining power in terms of economy, military and the international alliance. UNSC permanent seat in the near future will enhance its superiority in the region which inevitably solves the major issues.

India in UNSC - change in Balance of Power

The G-4 countries namely India, Germany, Japan and Brazil who are contesting for the permanent seat are under a treaty to support each other's candidature. Considering these contesters, misunderstanding prevails over the relationship between America and Germany as well as China and Japan which is the key factor curbing the reforms in UNSC. India stays away from the conflicts and has a cordial balance between countries in both the ends. Additionally, the inclusion of India will increase the Asian strength in the UNSC which will bring the centre of command to the raising Asia in the future. This may be the issue of consideration to hail the permanent seat. Indian inclusion in the UNSC has a global effect however the UNSC has little hopes to hold it much longer.


India though an emerging power in Asia, it has not enjoyed same privileges given to China notably it does not have a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. Therefore India has triggered its power ambitions by combining hard power and soft power[2].This led to 5 nuclear test demonstrations by India in 1998. The government has also invested heavily in its military programmes and has increased its expenditures steadily since 1994. This shows India's quest for Strategic partners and its military efforts.

India may attain the Security Council permanent seat but it will not be able to attain the veto power. As stated above the reason India is pursuing the UNSC is for its own selfish reason namely influence, hegemony in the Asian continent.

I feel that India has a long way go before it can be considered eligible for the SC veto power. It needs to primarily settle all its disputes with the neighbouring countries. Secondly it needs to provide aid and help to other developing nations. Thirdly it needs to stabilize its economy.

It is clear that India is a functioning democracy and will remain one. India has never invaded another country in its long history or neither started any war. Ethically this can be seen as primary criteria for peaceful existence. But for many years India has shown its indecision between the idealism it declares and realpolitik it operates in. It is essential that India learn to bridge the gap between idealist inclination and realist compulsions. This will make India a more credible country, improve the quality of debate within the Indian foreign policy community, and make India a more predictable state; one that major power will find easier to work with (Cohen, 2001).

India see's United Nations as a platform to promote and maintain India's influence in global affairs and a means to implement objectives of her foreign policy. India's belief that United Nations is a forum where sovereign states work together to promote peace and stability in the world but it feels that there is imbalance of power in the representation and also because it feels that India's influence will be more if the organization does not consist of a single power block.

India's anxiety to break into the charmed circle of the Permanent Members is tied up with India's image of herself, and especially of her status Vis--vis China. Should India fail to convince international opinion of the need for these changes, she will support the UN but will be more obstructionists and more inclined to pursue matters through alternative forums, especially NAM (Non Alignment Movement). And there will be the growing mistrust in India that the "international society" of the 21st century will be as exclusively European as the previous one (Hewitt).Therefore the NAM may compensate for Indian disenchantment with the UN.

With the beginning of the Cold War, India rejected an alliance with west to counter threats from a communist world. This was primarily because Jawaharlal Nehru believed that alliances were the underlying cause of war similar to what Woodrow Wilson thought that Balance of Power politics is the root cause of the war. Indian foreign policy, which during the Cold War was marked by Non-Alignment, today appears to be pursuing a policy of neo-non alignment - i.e. engaging many to meet its different security requirements. The key to India projecting itself beyond the region is to have and ensure stability in the region.

India's security relationship with other states can be understood by two concepts .First is the concept of Hegemon, currently US is considered as the super power with its military power and its economic status. The second factor is Globalization -- where a state is no longer considered as a primary player. Both international trade and the international economy highlight that we are in an age of "power of dependence" (BAVA, 2007).

As former foreign secretary Shyam Saran has said "India needs to make itself indispensable in global politics by becoming helpfully engaged in all the important transnational issues: public health, terrorism, humanitarian relief, narcotics, human trafficking, international justice, peace keeping, global trade rules" (Hewitt).An India indispensable to the world is an India that is well on its way to realising its ambitions and potentials. If India becomes a UNSC permanent member, then along with Russia and China, Asia will gain its supremacy and hence the balance of power will be tilted more towards the east than the west.


A/RES/47/62, 8. p. (1992, December 11). Retrieved from A/RES/47/62,84th plenary meeting, 11 December 1992, 'Question of equitable representationhttp ://

BAVA, U. S. (2007). India's Role in the Emerging World Order. FES Briefing Paper, (p. 4).

Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping. (2003, August 21). Retrieved from

Cohen, S. (2001). India: Emerging Power. Brookings.

Dayal, V. (2005, May 23). UN and India.

Economic_history_of_India. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia:

Fassbeder, B. (2004). Pressure for Security Council Reform. In Malone, The UN Security Council (pp. 341-353).

Freeman, B. (2005, May 19). People for a Democratic and Effective UN.

Ganguly, S. India as an Emerging Power.

Hewitt, V. M. The international politics of South Asia.

Jaffrelot, C. Global Insights: THE EMERGING STATES.

Mahubani, K. (2004). The Permanent Members and Elected Council Members. In Malone, The UN Security Council (pp. 253-265).

Mathur, S. (2005). Voting for the Veto: India in a reformed UN, September 2005. UK: The Foreign Policy Centre.

Norling, I. K. The rise of India :Problems and Opportunities.

Rajamohan, C. (2002, October 24). Is the United Nations relevant? The Hindu .

UN. (2004). A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility. Report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.

UN. (2003, September 23). The Secretary General's Address to the General Assembly,New York. Retrieved from UN Official Website:

UN. (n.d.). UN Reform Process. Retrieved from

Why India? (2003, November 10). The Hindustan Times .

[1] Ibid

[2]The Emerging States p.82

Please be aware that the free essay that you were just reading was not written by us. This essay, and all of the others available to view on the website, were provided to us by students in exchange for services that we offer. This relationship helps our students to get an even better deal while also contributing to the biggest free essay resource in the UK!