It’s India’s time: Biden must support bid to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Make no mistake about it. The time has come to make India a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The last three administrations under Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump each put it on the record that the United States supports India’s bid to be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Candidate Joe Biden, in a policy paper released by his campaign back in 2020, said a Biden government would push for India to become a permanent United Nations Security Council member. But, unfortunately, in a recent statement by the president’s newly-elected ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, she would only say that it’s a matter of ongoing discussion. So, what’s changed?

Everyone agrees that the UN needs reforms and that the Security Council needs enlargement. India, the world’s largest democracy and the 2nd most populous country with over 1.3 billion people having the 5th largest economy, the 4th largest military, and a nuclear state, also has a large pool of English-speaking technological manpower, must be a permanent member of the UNSC.

In 2006, Biden announced his vision for the future of U.S.-India relations: “My dream is that in 2020, the two closest nations in the world will be India and the United States.” He worked to make that vision a reality while in Congress, working with Democrats and Republicans, to approve the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement in 2008.

Again, according to his 2020 policy paper, Biden said he would deliver on his longstanding belief that India and the U.S. are natural partners. He said that a Biden administration would place a high priority on continuing to strengthen the U.S.-India partnership.

The 2020 document also said that no common global challenge could be solved without India and the U.S. working as responsible partners. He cited strengthening India’s defense and its capabilities as a counter-terrorism partner, improving health systems and pandemic response, and deepening cooperation in areas such as higher education, space exploration, and humanitarian relief. Moreover, the Obama-Biden administration formally declared support for India’s membership in a reformed and expanded United Nations Security Council. So, again, what’s changed?

India deserves a permanent Security Council seat. Why? Precisely because India brings something new to the global table.

It’s made extraordinary contributions to UN peacekeeping operations. Since the beginning of such missions in 1948, India has sent contingents on 49 occasions, contributed close to 200,000 troops, while losing more than 160 of its military personnel while serving as UN peacekeepers.

India also has one of the world’s largest and most successful pharmaceutical industries and has already stepped up in the fight against COVID-19, producing vaccines and other drugs on a mass scale and making them available at cost, especially to the developing world.

Finally, as India prepares to take the UNSC presidency for August, its UN ambassador, T.S. Titumurti, said he will be focusing on three major areas: maritime security, peacekeeping, and counter-terrorism.

No, President Biden needs to keep his promise to India! He and his administration need to do everything possible to ensure India gets a seat as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. 

Here’s my suggestion. Play hardball. Threaten to withhold all funds to the United Nations until India is made a full partner. The world is a dangerous place, China is a common enemy whose global ambitions must be stopped in their tracks. A true American partnership with India is the only way to accomplish it.

Bob Lancia

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