India’s UNSC moment Editorial 26th Jan’21 TimesOfIndia

World is changing fast today:

  • The world of today is evolving rapidly.
  • Structurally, we are seeing a re-emergence of great power contestation (now between the US and China) unlike any we have seen since the end of the Cold War (when it was between the US and Soviet).
  • Fragmented world emerging: 
    • A rising China is challenging the fundamentals of the liberal global order.
    • Meanwhile, support for an expansive American global engagement is at its lowest.
    • A fragmented world order is emerging which is redefining the norms and relationships.
  • Economic decoupling:
    • Moving away from globalization, we are now entering the phase of economic decoupling (countries not trying to not be too interlinked economically with any other country).
    • Trade relationships have got affected, with nations looking towards friendlier nations for close cooperation.
  • Multilateral institutions struggling:
    • Credibility of global multilateral institutions is at its lowest, leading to the emergence of various coalitions.
  •  Covid-19 and its impact has accentuated these trends.

India at UNSC:

  • At the beginning of 2021, India commenced its two year stint as a non-permanent member of the 15-nation United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
  • Besides India, Norway, Mexico, Ireland and Kenya also took their place as non-permanent members.
  • It is the eighth time that India is part of the powerful UNSC platform.
  • India won its eighth UNSC term in 2020 elections when it secured 184 of the 192 votes cast at the UN, signalling a broad acceptance of India’s global role.

India’s action agenda at UNSC:

  • India today is more willing than ever before to contribute to its share for global governance via the UNSC.
  • India made it clear that it intends to use its time at UNSC “to bring human-centric and inclusive solutions to matters of international peace and security”.
  • India also said that it intends to be “a voice for the developing world.”
  • India reiterated its commitment to raise its “voice against the common enemies of humanity like terrorism”.

India remains committed to multilateralism:

  • Today, multilateralism and global governance is facing one of the most serious challenges in the post-Second World War phase.
    In such a time, it is important for a nation like India to step up and contribute its bit, which has been a traditional supporter of multilateralism.
  • India has been emphasizing the need for “reformed multilateralism,” in line with today’s needs.
  • UNSC is a great platform for India to project its image of a responsible global stakeholder.

India is seeking to redefine its role in the changing world:

  • Meanwhile, India is also seeking to redefine its global role in a significant way as rule shaper (not just a rule follower) in the global order.
  • As a consequence, India’ss approach to multilateralism and what it wants from being part of the UNSC has also evolved.
  • Its critique of the UN has become more specific, calling for UNSC to have better representation and a refreshed mandate.

India has called for UN reform and new multilateralism:

  • India has noted that the current outdated leadership structure of the United Nations itself a challenge to its credibility and to its effectiveness.
  • The Indian Prime Minister called for a new template of multilateralism that “reflects today’s reality, gives voice to all stakeholders, addresses contemporary challenges, and focuses on human welfare.”
  • Underlining growing impatience in India about the pace of reforms in the UN, the Prime Minister asked for how long will India be kept out of the decision making structures of the United Nations.
  • The PM has been warning the UN that despite its inherent faith in the global multilateral order, India’s absence from the decision making structures and lack of genuine reforms might force India to look for alternatives.

Reform at UNSC will not be easy:

  • India will get an opportunity as part of the UNSC to put some of its core concerns on the global agenda.
  • However, it is clear by now that any reform at UNSC will not be easy, and it will definitely not be quick.
  • The divisions among major powers on the UNSC today are perhaps at their sharpest ever since the end of the Cold War, which will preclude anything significant from happening in the realm of global governance.

India should use its UNSC tenure to advance its vital strategic interests:

  • Meanwhile, India should focus on how its UNSC membership can possibly advance its vital strategic interests.
  • From leveraging its role to target issues like terrorism and maritime security to building bridges with Africa, India can do much during its term.


  • New Delhi should certainly continue to demand that the UNSC becomes more representative of the changing world.
  • In the meantime, it would be wiser to spend its limited diplomatic capital on issues that have a direct bearing on Indian interests.
  • Indian diplomacy should be focussed towards making India powerful – in terms of capabilities, institutions and ideational underpinnings.
  • That alone will ensure making India the critical node of global governance architecture.


GS Paper III: International Relations