NEWS SPECIAL/LIBYA FALLOUT
‘Bound to have an
adverse impact on the
Dr Sumit Ganguly, professor of political science at Indiana University in
Bloomington, was scathing about
New Delhi’s decision to abstain on
United Nations Security Council
Resolution 1973 to establish a no-fly zone over Libya to thwart
Muammar Gaddafi’s loyalists from
massacring civilians in Benghazi,
where the anti-Gaddafi rebel forces
were holed up. Ganguly, Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian
Cultures and Civilizations at
Indiana University, who recently
returned from a sabbatical as a senior visiting fellow at the Institute
for Defense Studies and Analyses,
New Delhi, said, “This form of self-serving behavior will ill-advance
India’s global as well as bilateral
How disappointing was India’s
abstention for the US, particularly
after Obama endorsed Delhi’s bid
for a permanent seat in the Security Council?
India’s abstention was nothing short of appalling. This
form of self-serving behavior will ill-advance India’s global as well as bilateral interests. Some of us had harbored
fears that India would behave in this utterly irresponsible
fashion and our worst misgivings have been realized.
Wasn’t this an opportunity for India, as one of the 10
non-permanent members on the UNSC, to show its leadership as a democratic and emerging power, instead of
I could not agree with you more. This was a clear-cut
case of a vicious ruler using the most brutal tactics to quell
an entirely understandable rebellion and offering no
quarter. India could have easily demonstrated that it was
finally ready to rise to the
occasion and meet the
expectations of leadership from a country that
wants to be taken seriously in the emergent
global order. Instead it
completely flubbed the
Do you think India
wanted not to ruffle any
feathers in Moscow or
I certainly hope not
and do not believe so in
any case. I think this sad
decision can be attributed to India’s reticence
to make tough choices.
What about the possibility that perhaps India
was forming a sort
of bloc with the BRIC
Dr Sumit Ganguly
(Brazil, Russia, India, China) in
opposition to the US and the Western
India did consult with the BRIC.
However, in the end, I firmly believe
that this decision was India’s and
India’s alone. If I am mistaken in my
analysis, then I fear that India’s deci-sion-makers are even more out of
touch with reality than I fear they
Won’t this give the US and particularly India’s supporters on Capitol
Hill to have second thoughts about
India as a permanent Security
Council member? Many of them have
been troubled by India’s track record
in the UN in the decades past, where
it has voted against the US on several
Yet again you are entirely correct.
It will provide many in Capitol Hill
the necessary and useful cudgel to
beat India with. It was as if India’s
policymakers willfully handed them
Does this in any way take away
from the envisaged strategic partnership of India as a natural ally that would be relied upon by
Washington as a reliable partner on global issues?
I had always found the ‘natural ally’ argument to be
rather silly. That said, this vote is bound to have an
adverse impact on the strategic partnership. In many
ways it lays bare the hollowness of the talk of strategic
partnership when India cannot be counted on in a critical
moment of need. This was not some rank, unilateral
action based upon false premises; instead it was a UNsanctioned enterprise designed to prevent mass killing.
Arguing that the resolution failed to spell out an endgame
amounts to little more than a deft verbal sleight of hand
and does little to burnish India’s credentials as a potential
— let alone real — great power.
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