India votes against Russia: No matter how sham liberal world order is, to vote is the foremost responsibility of an individual as well as the countries. That is why even at a forum like UNGA, voting matters. In 2022, the process has gained more significance as Russia is trying to revive its USSR legacy on the global stage. Apparently, the anxiety about the USSR has helped India occupy a centre stage in the conflict.
Ukraine lobby at the UNGA
Recently, the Ukraine lobby at the United Nations decided to ditch the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in favour of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The West had got fed up with Russia vetoing every single one of its resolutions at UNSC. They believe that a 15 member club is not enough to get support against Putin. Even there, they could not always get big Eastern powers like India and China on board.
So, they went to UNGA, which is a much bigger club consisting of 193 members. Pro-Zelenskyy lobby is particularly furious about people of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia voting in favour of living under the Putin administration. But, for the west, Putin is evilest of all evil. Nothing else explains their non-acceptance of the results of the referendum despite the fact that international observers were dispatched to oversee that a free and fair election is there.
Voting on secret votes
Now, the Western countries want the UNGA to condemn “so-called referendums” and “attempted illegal annexation”. The voting on the proposal for condemnation is to take place later this week. But, Russia had some reservations about it. Russia wanted the voting procedure to take place through a secret ballot. Possible explanation behind Russians’ demand is that it fears that this time, India and China might also vote against it, as the issue involves territorial integrity and sovereignty of countries.
But, Albania, a tiny country located in South-eastern Europe opposed it. It moved a motion that the matter should be decided through open recorded vote. Soon, the proposal was put for voting. Unsurprisingly, the results of the motion against open voting were also open for everyone to see. Only 13 countries voted in favour of keeping the UNGA voting process a secret, while 39 abstained from voting. Russia and China were the ones leading the abstention bloc.
India favoured transparency
However, 107 countries voted in favour of Albania’s proposal against Russia. India was also the one which favoured maintaining transparency in the voting process. India was the only country in the all-important BRICS grouping which went against Russia in this regard. China, Russia and South Africa not being exactly on the same side as India probably prompted the explosive media headlines.
Habitual mischaracterisation by news portals
If you run a Google Search regarding the voting, headlines of Indian News Portals will tell you that India is against Russia. Mint’s headline was, “India goes against Russia at UNGA”. Similarly, Hindustan Times also used the phrase, “India votes against Russia”. Indian Express also used the cliche “votes against Russia” in its headlines. Other portals like WION and India today used catchphrases like “India votes to reject Russia’s demand”
Through these headlines, one could easily get deceived and go on to claim that finally India has decided to side with the western bloc. They have done it before as well. In August, when Ukrainian President Zelenskyy wanted to speak at UNSC, Russia had objected to it. Russia’s objection had led to a vote on the issue. At that time, India had decided to vote in favour of free and untrammelled speech. Even that was projected as India drifting towards the western bloc. However, the fact of the matter was that it was just a procedural vote and had nothing to do with the India-Russia bond.
India votes against Russia: It was not against Russia
Nothing has changed in the last one and a half month. What happened at the UNGA was again a procedural issue. Russia wanted a secret voting for which they can’t be blamed either since Russians are already suffering due to extreme negative propaganda by liberal media. They do not want their stature to get further dent. On the other hand, India has been a champion of free speech and Democracy. Transparency has been at the core of PM Modi’s tenure as the Prime Minister. Obviously, the world was looking towards us with hope. We kept becoming a shining light for them by voting for transparency.
India has not even revealed its stance
Incidentally, Russia has not expressed any concern with India’s action at the UNGA as well. It has its reasons to do so. Even when the whole world was busy cornering India, our Foreign Policy establishment made India proud by adhering to its stance on Russia. Even after the referendum, India has indicated that it won’t be leaving Russia. The proof of the pudding lies in EAM Jaishankar’s recent rebuttal to journalists regarding India-Russia long term partnership.
Addressing a joint press meet in Canberra with his Australian counterpart Hon Penny Wong, Jaishankar had expressed gratitude towards Russia for standing beside India when America was supporting Pakistan. Moreover, when he was quizzed about India’s position on the upcoming UNGA proposal against Russia, Jaishankar had refused to give them any hint.
Hinting that India will decide at the 11th hour, EAM Jaishankar had said, “Nobody puts their decision to vote out in front. You take the call when you have to…A large part of the world today is hurting because of this conflict…because their lives are impacted in a very damaging manner.”
Also read: UNGA 2022: United Nations was Jaishankered
Media needs to mend its ways
No one knows which route India will take. For the first time, news portals have to deal with this kind of butterfly in their stomach. Up until a few years ago, they used to get clear signals from their sources stationed in Embassies. If they failed, the media used to look at the vote bank of the party in power and knew that domestic politics would drive Indian geopolitical interests.
Things have changed now. Neither the vote bank, nor the ideology and not even religious inclination drive our foreign policy. But one aspect can predict it. And that is the welfare of Indians living in India and abroad. Time has come for media to look beyond embassies and ideologies and take a clue from what people of the country want from the government.
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