As far as past developments are concerned, it is pretty much certain that one thing doesn’t work with India, and that is pressure or luring tactics by other nations. India has remained steadfast in its geopolitical interests, even if it means upsetting our partners by refusing to peddle their predetermined narratives.
At a time when the Western bloc forced countries to vote in their favour on a non-binding trash of a resolution, India followed the path of peace and abstained from these meaningless political resolutions.
Recently, India adopted this time-tested policy of abstention at the UN General Assembly. Many geopolitical experts believe that this could become a point of contention with our ostensibly all-weather ally, France. It is critical to understand the context, strategy, and specific goals underlying India’s abstention from these UN resolutions.
India refuses to vote yet again
Recently, the Ukraine and Western bloc-sponsored UN resolution was put to the test in the United Nations General Assembly. The non-binding resolution underlined the need to achieve a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine in line with the Principles of the UN Charter. The resolution was passed with a clear majority, as it got 141 votes in its favour. While 32 UN member nations abstained from the voting, seven countries voted against the resolution.
The main takeaway from the West’s mundane theatrics, however, was that India did not vote. This happened regardless of the constant nudging from the French side. Yes, you heard that right. This time, France tried to leverage its relationship with India to get a favourable vote from India. But as usual, India didn’t let any nation coerce our voting preference. India maintained the long-standing and clearly stated path of achieving peace through meaningful dialogue and non-coercive diplomacy.
Reiterating our position in the Russia-Ukraine war, India’s permanent representative in the UN, Ruchira Kamboj, stated that dialogue and diplomacy are the only viable ways out. Explaining the rationale behind India’s abstention, she quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s advice that “no solution can ever arrive at the cost of human lives.”
Ms. Kamboj said, “India remains steadfastly committed to multilateralism and upholds the principles of the UN Charter. We will always call for dialogue and diplomacy as the only viable way out. While we take note of the stated objective of today’s resolution, given its inherent limitations in reaching our desired goal of securing a lasting peace, we are constrained to abstain.”
PM Modi reiterated this in the presence of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. While urging the need for dialogue and diplomacy, PM Modi stated that India is willing to join any peace talks to solve this crisis.
PM Modi said, “COVID pandemic and Ukraine conflict affected the whole world. Developing countries were especially negatively impacted by these. We both agree that these problems can be solved through joint efforts and in the G-20, we are focusing on this. India has been talking about the need for dialogue and diplomacy since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis. India is willing to join any peace talks to solve this crisis”.
Spearheaded by France, the Western bloc tried to convince India to vote against Russia on this matter. It should be noted that France has escalated its assault against Russia in the wake of the ongoing Napoleonic commentary going on between Russia and France. We will not delve into who is right or wrong in this matter. However, Russia scolded French President Emmanuel Macron to remember the fate of Napoleon Bonaparte after he called for Russia’s defeat against Ukraine on February 19.
India’s abstention during the resolution is a big blow to the west, especially France. France has made numerous attempts to entice India. This was primarily done by offering India defence exports. But as India’s stand has been interest-based, it has made its decision regarding its own pros and cons.
The French Minister, Bruno Le Maire, threatened that Paris will not sign off on a G20 communiqué unless it contains the same condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as it did last year. He has stated, “I want to make very clear that we will oppose any step back from the leaders on the statement from the leaders in Bali on this question of war in Ukraine. Either we have the same language or we do not sign the final communiqué.”
With the statement, it becomes clear that the west just wants the world to operate under their conditions. If any country differs from their opinion, they try to deal coercively with them. But before they pressurise the country. With India, the same syntax was used.
India was pressured to vote in favour of the resolution. And after it abstained, the European countries are looking to somehow compromise India’s G20 presidency, which has by and large remained successful. However, India differs from Russia, China, and Iran.
India is a democratic country that has taken many measures to help other countries. Subsequently, India has the image of a peaceful nation with an entrenched rule of the people. India has the support of many third-world countries, especially those in Africa and Latin America. Interestingly, some of those countries have also abstained from the resolution, like South Africa, among others.
The global anti-money laundering watchdog FATF, on Friday, added South Africa and Nigeria to its “grey list” of countries for failing to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. This move is a setback to Africa’s two largest economies. It will erode global efforts to combat money laundering, terrorism financing, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The question is, categorically, why did India abstain? The answer to this question has taken many forms after each abstention. However, the west has put in more effort this time and, as a result, appears to be more disappointed after India abstains. Well, the most known reason is that India has good relations with Russia, so it cannot vote against it. But, deep down, there are some points that cannot be ignored and prove the need to be more mindful.
Firstly, passing the resolution against Russia will not end the war. The resolutions are non-binding in nature. Yes! It will indeed escalate hostility under Russian leadership towards the west, and Ukraine will again suffer the cost.
Secondly, the west talks about the immediate cessation of war and the start of dialogue between the stakeholders, but whether resolution plays a significant role or not is an important question. As inclination towards either side creates resentment in the other, the possibility of negotiations ends again. This leads us to the third reason, which provides the actual solution to the problem on the part of third-party countries.
Regardless of whether it is a country in Europe, the United States, or elsewhere, each should acknowledge that India’s neutrality is the only way to reduce tensions. It was the Indian PM who had the courage to publicly say, “The current era is not one of war,” to Putin, and it was India that stopped Russia from using nuclear weapons. And it was India that continued humanitarian assistance to Ukraine in the form of food grains. All this can only be done when a country takes a clear stand for peaceful solutions.
So, when India talks about neutrality, the statement of S. Jaishankar should be recalled, in which he said, “I don’t think we’re sitting on fence, just because I don’t agree with you. It means I’m sitting on my ground… what are big challenges of world? Climate change, terrorism, security etc. You take any or all challenges some part of the answer comes from India.”
India’s neutrality does not make it idle; instead, it increases hope in either party that it can only provide a solution to the crisis.
So the west should understand this and stop taking a hard stand against India. If the Indian presidency of the G20 fails, there will be a lot that is going to be affected, starting with Europe. India does not appear to be in the eye of the storm. It is Europe that is sailing in the storm, and it needs India right now.
It’s either they wise up and take a cue from India’s war strategy, or get lost in the make-believe tale of Europe’s might and watch Ukraine crumble into pieces. In other words, it’s time to choose between reality and fantasy before reality chooses for you.
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