Why the UN security council needs India

The 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) could, if followed through, be a turning point for India and its place in the world, as well as for the world body itself. It can position India as the voice of priorities and as the honest broker. Providing the opening for this is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Though not present in New York, Modi made an appearance in French President Emmanuel Macron’s UNGA address as an articulation of what the world needs now.

Modi’s words to Vladimir Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand stressed that the world does not need wars, and this requires all sovereign nations to work together as equals. Macron’s open admission that Modi had got it right is not as much an endorsement as it is a recognition of the special skill that India brings to the global table. India’s claim for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council (UNSC) has found support again from countries that have, for nearly a decade, been supporting the demand.

That is good news, as it makes it clear that India’s position on issues is respected even when it diverges. But India’s transformation is a work-in-progress. New Delhi must shed its image as an ambivalent player incapable of taking a long or broad view. That can happen through a serious engagement on the challenges confronting all sovereign states.

India’s engagements at the 77th UNGA must reflect its ability to engage the world to come together to tackle crucial challenges that confront the world. It is by pursuing this approach, alongside traditional engagements, that India can demonstrate what it brings to the UNSC as it assumes its presidency in December. In doing so, it will also show what it can – and should – bring as a permanent member.