Obama Supports India’s Bid for UN Security Council Seat

Elizabeth Field

This Monday, President Barack Obama announced his support for India’s bid for a seat on the UN’s Security Council, hoping to elevate the nation to its “rightful place in the world.” While some United States officials describe his statement as a “full endorsement,” Obama did not expressly state that the US would actively push for a council seat for India.

India is a part of a group of four nations along with Germany, Japan, and Brazil that have been seeking permanent seats in the United Nations as major political and economic powers. The five members of the Security Council currently are the United States, China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom. The only other country that the US has endorsed for a permanent seat is Japan.

Addressing the Indian Parliament, Obama assertively stated, “I want every Indian citizen to know; The United States of America will not simply be cheering you on from the sidelines. We will be right there with you, shoulder to shoulder, because we believe in the promise of India.”

To the United States’ government, that promise entails giving a louder voice to developing countries who can offer the US the potential of a successful arena to market United States manufactured products and the aid of a possible counter terrorism unit in a geographical area dominated by China. India is a great match for these efforts, because it is the largest democracy in the world and is in a volatile region.

However, there are countries that do not endorse a permanent seat for India. China has long opposed representation of India on the Securities Council. Pakistan also opposes the permanent seat, accusing India of blatant violations of United Nation resolutions and issued a statement urging the United States to “take a moral view and not base itself on any temporary expediency or exigencies of power politics.”

Later in the afternoon, Obama and the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, held a joint press conference. Singh said that the assistance of the United States was essential if India was to achieve the growth rates needed to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens out of poverty. Singh also joined Obama in dismissing criticism of outsourcing work to other countries, saying that India “is not in the business of stealing jobs from Americans.”

While his speech was warmly regarded in Delhi, some Indians are wary of the President’s promise. Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies at the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi, said that Obama’s statement was “couched in such careful and so hedged by conditions terms” that it was “not really a genuine assurance…these kinds of complexities are all going to be lost in the media reaction. In India we have a tendency to believe the hype.”