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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 14.10.10

India is having a very good run. The Sensex is on the ascendant; no violence occurred after the Ayodhya judgment; the Commonwealth Games started without a glitch; Indian participants in the Games are winning medals; India is doing well in Test cricket, and now comes the news that India has been elected to the security council of the United Nations. Astrologers and their followers will inevitably say that it is all in the stars. Even after accepting the maxim that faith brooks no rational argument, it needs to be emphasized that that India’s election to the most powerful body of the UN had nothing to do with India’s place in the zodiac chart. It is the result of a well-planned campaign and of a deliberate positioning of India as a leading world power. The campaign and the positioning were masterminded by the prime minister from the time he was firm in pushing through the Indo-US nuclear deal. Of course, India’s economic position and power — especially the fact that it was one of the few countries in the world that were relatively unaffected by the global meltdown — have helped India’s elevation. It has been clear to most observers for some time that Manmohan Singh’s various foreign policy initiatives were driven by his aspiration to get for India a seat at the global high table. The election to the security council is a milestone in that journey. If the election was part of a plan and therefore somewhat predictable, what was unexpected was the landslide vote in India’s favour. This is the outcome of the excellent groundwork by Indian diplomats to secure this level of support. Pakistan’s vote for India is testimony to the reduction in the trust deficit that spurred the prime minister to insist on a continuing dialogue between India and Pakistan.

The election is an obvious first step in what is India’s ultimate ambition in the context of the UN: a permanent seat in the security council. The first time India had made a formal proposal for its inclusion as a permanent member was way back in 1994. India is now much better placed for staking a similar claim than it was 16 years ago. But the process of including a new permanent member is not easy. It requires an amendment in the UN Charter. The difficulties involved can be measured by the fact that the charter was amended last in 1973. However difficult the goal, a major step has been taken towards registering the triumph.