India must free itself from its ‘non-aligned’ mindset

A draft resolution condemning Russia for its invasion of UkraineーS/2022/155ーwas overwhelmingly adopted at an emergency special session of the United Nations General Assembly last month. While passage was expected, what shocked the free world was that India “abstained” from voting.

India is a major democratic power which, along with Japan, the United States and Australia, is part of the Quad.

Earlier on February 25, the United Nations Security Council considered the merits of resolution S/RES/2623. As expected, however, when it came to a vote, Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, vetoed the measure. India, a non-permanent member of the Council, abstained from voting, as did China and other countries.

Then, two days later, the United States and other members of the Security Council presented the measure to the United Nations General Assembly in the form of a similar resolution. The General Assembly does not authorize any right of veto and the resolution was approved by an overwhelming majority. India again abstained.

In its March 2 vote, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with 141 of 193 members voting in favor and five members opposing the measure. All seven industrialized countries (G7) were among those who voted for the resolution, including Japan and the United States. Russia and North Korea were among the five opposing countries. Once again, India ー along with 35 other countries ー abstained.

1024w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" class="lazyload" data-sizes="auto" data-srcset="data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=75&resize=75 75w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=100&resize=100 100w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=150&resize=150 150w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=240&resize=240 240w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=320&resize=320 320w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=500&resize=500 500w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=640&resize=640 640w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=800&resize=800 800w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=1024&resize=1024 1024w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=1280&resize=1280 1280w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=1600&resize=1600 1600w" data-src="https://japan-forward.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/20000305-Ukraine-War-002-1024x639.jpg"/>
A young woman hugs a doll after fleeing Ukraine, at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, Saturday, March 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Tacit approval of territorial expansion with violence

For nations that share the values ​​of democracy and respect for human rights, there is no choice but to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

New Delhi, in particular, should have criticized the communist regime for its territorial expansionism, given its own experience of military pressure from China along its common border. Nevertheless, India made the decision to tacitly condone Russia’s violence by tolerating its behavior.

US President Joe Biden has called out India for abstaining on voting day. During a US Senate hearing on the assault, US Under Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu said he was “working closely with India to highlight the importance of a common response condemning Russia’s aggression”.

In India, a Foreign Ministry spokesman tried to explain his country’s decision to abstain, saying it was based on “very careful consideration”.

India’s Ambassador to the United Nations, TS Tirumurti, issued a statement, stressing the need for cooperation between Russia and Ukraine for the safe evacuation of Indians stranded in Ukraine. Yet this concern is not unique to India.

1024w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" class="lazyload" data-sizes="auto" data-srcset="data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=75&resize=75 75w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=100&resize=100 100w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=150&resize=150 150w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=240&resize=240 240w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=320&resize=320 320w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=500&resize=500 500w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=640&resize=640 640w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=800&resize=800 800w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=1024&resize=1024 1024w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=1280&resize=1280 1280w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=1600&resize=1600 1600w" data-src="https://japan-forward.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Indian-Prime-Minister-Narendra-Modi-Visit-to-Japan-005-1024x682.jpg"/>
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets Russian President Vladimir Putin, 2018. Yuri Kadobnov/Pool via REUTERS

India’s long security relationship with Russia

It is generally accepted that India’s real concerns stem from its close security ties with Russia, from which it imports a considerable amount of arms.

During the Cold War, India adhered to a policy of non-alignment, remaining officially unaffiliated with or against any major power bloc. But in reality, it depended on the Soviet Union for most of its arms imports.

In 1971, the two countries signed the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation. India, which was at odds with Pakistan over Kashmir, was seen as a Soviet ally, while Pakistan became an important US partner in stopping the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

After the Cold War, the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan. US ties with Pakistan have weakened, while its ties with India have grown closer.

India, on the other hand, has continued to emphasize its friendship with Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, from which it acquires a substantial percentage of its arms supply. Moreover, he is adamant about maintaining good relations with the powerful military as a means of countering the Chinese threat.

1024w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" class="lazyload" data-sizes="auto" data-srcset="data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=75&resize=75 75w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=100&resize=100 100w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=150&resize=150 150w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=240&resize=240 240w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=320&resize=320 320w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=500&resize=500 500w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=640&resize=640 640w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=800&resize=800 800w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=1024&resize=1024 1024w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=1280&resize=1280 1280w, data:image/svg xml, 1024w?w=1600&resize=1600 1600w" data-src="https://japan-forward.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/China-and-Africa-009-1024x762.jpg"/>
India’s Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other non-Western leaders.

Back to Cold War Psychology

Immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014, India showed signs of breaking away from its Cold War thinking.

India was a founding member of the Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries in 1961. Yet for the first time since its inception, India was absent from the group’s summit in 2016, when Mr. Modi chose not to attend.

With the end of the Cold War and the growing threat from China, the decision reflected Modi’s diplomatic stance to strengthen relations with Japan and the United States for its security and economy. But his behavior at the United Nations this time gives the impression that New Delhi has reverted to Cold War-era patterns.

Voting results in the UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russia for its aggression against Ukraine: 141 countries FOR, 5 countries AGAINST:

These 35 countries abstained:

Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burundi, Central African Republic, China, Congo, Cuba, El Salvador, Genius, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolian, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Pakistan , Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

12 countries did not vote

It’s time to ask yourself how to survive in a world divided between freedom and coercion. The idea of ​​invading a neighboring country by military force to expand a country’s territory can never be acceptable to countries that value freedom. “Withholding” is simply not a choice.

India’s bureaucracy has been advocating an omnidirectional golden rule of inclusive diplomacy ever since it joined the non-alignment movement. He has long tried to find a balance between Western countries on the one hand, and China and Russia on the other.

When Modi became prime minister, he demonstrated that political judgment was not limited by this outdated politics. However, these days it seems to be dragged down by old-fashioned bureaucratic thinking.

Mr. Prime Minister, if you claim that your country is the greatest democracy in the world, you must demonstrate it by actions consistent with these values.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is currently visiting India for a summit meeting with Mr Modi. I very much hope that he will firmly attract the Indian Prime Minister to the democratic side of the world.

RELATED:

(Read the article in Japanese on this link.)

By Tomoo Iwata, Editor-in-Chief, The Sankei Shimbun Osaka

About Candace Victor

Check Also

Pinoy imports speak out amid ‘poaching’ allegations

Gilas Pilipinas striker Will Navarro has not been allowed to play in the KBL. FIBA.basketball …