An “emerged” India still hasn’t come out of diplomatic closet

March 18, 2011

India may be “emerged” in the sound bite used by U.S. President Barack Obama during his landmark visit last year. But if the U.N. vote on a no-fly zone is anything to go by, New Delhi’s rise to wield global economic clout has so far not been replicated as easily on the geopolitical stage.

Despite vocal opposition to a no-fly zone in Libya , India decided as a non-permanent security council member to abstain at the United Nations, along with fellow BRIC, Brazil, on the issue.

Realpolitik, the government may say. Who would want to be seen as the only opponent of the no-fly zone (the only other “opposition” came from abstained German, Russia, China). And there is a danger India would be seen as supporting Gaddafi.

But unlike China – which as one of five permanent security council members could destroy any plans for the no-fly zone with its single veto – India’s opposition would have been seen as purely symbolic, and would have signalled widespread worries among many countries that the West will quickly get involved in a military quagmire.

Brazil, which was vocal in its opposition to getting involved militarily in Libya, also abstained.

Maybe a vote against would have been politically impossible amid a flexing of its muscle by the United States. But India may have lost an opportunity to develop a single voice on the world stage, flip-flopping over its first major test since assuming its U.N. seat in January.  Whatever the rights and wrongs of the motion, the United States clearly has set the agenda and shown that it is still the effective world military and diplomatic power.

India saw the U.N. seat as its coming of age. Obama may have feted India last year, but he also warned that with added power comes added responsibility. He was referring to India’s position on a host of delicate diplomatic issues such as Iran and Myanmar.

India’s economy may be booming, but so far its diplomatic voice is rather hoarse.

(Contact the author at http://twitter.com/aliscrut )

3 comments

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“India’s economy may be booming, but so far its diplomatic voice is rather hoarse”
Bang On!
And there is a lot more in India which makes its claim to superpowerdom hollow. Economy is perhaps the only positive factor which is growing but the people are already beginning to ask of the inflated growth rate can be a panacea to a million ills with the systems and institutions inside?

Posted by Windturner | Report as abusive

Added power comes with added resposnibility – the world according to Obama. So someone please explain why Bahrain can be supplied troops against a public that is venting its frustrations. But in Libya’s case the opposite is responsible behaviour.

When will the west realise you can’t just walk in uninvited with guns blazing and hope to get out without creating a mess and international turmoil? Remember the responsible war in Iraq and the other one in Afghanistan?

India has maintained, whether it be Egypt, Bahrain or Libya that the will of the people must be respected – that does not mean you use military force.

Wait till the dust settles down, you may have to do the same in Syria too. Will they thin out in Afghanistan to liberate Syria like Iraq?

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

India abstaining from voting on Libya is a positive step.It portrays India’s willingness to take self-reliant decisions in security council.This should be seen as a sign of growing diplomatic confidence.This is a sign of emergence of BRIC(brazil,India,Russia,China) in cooperation on diplomatic grounds.

Posted by koulvivek | Report as abusive

[...] India’s foreign policy mandarins and their media compatriots have been talking up how awesome it is that India is now an “emerging power” in the world. It wouldn’t be a bad thing in theory given that India’s democratic government and vibrant civil society is indeed a wonderful thing to behold. But, India’s foreign policy, especially since the early part of the last decade has been the definition of passive aggressive. [...]