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No ovation for India’s stand on the Ukraine war

  • Published
    14th Mar, 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has placed considerable moral responsibility on India. However, at the United Nations (UN), India has refused to condemn the violation of the rights of the Ukrainians. 

Reasons for India’s abstention

  • National interest-In international affairs, a country must be guided by its national interest and not some abstract principles.
  • East –West Conflict-A second response from India’s security establishment has taken the form of a rationalisation of the decision to abstain on grounds that the Russian invasion and the West’s reaction, that has not included war so far, is a conflict between the east and the west, and India should stay out of it.
  • Support in UN-It is also noted that the likely need of support on the Pakistan issue in the Security Council, India must not offend Russia by condemning the invasion.
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Arguments against the above stated reasons

  • Change in Geopolitics-In the 1950s the West was clearly unsympathetic to India while , the Soviet Union, present-day Russian state, had rescued India several times by exercising its veto in the UN Security Council. Now, close to 75 years later, the situation has changed. Public opinion in the West does not favour unconditional support of Pakistan vis-à-vis India while Russia encourages Pakistan.
  • Global Market for Arms-It is indeed correct that India relies on the Russians for such equipment and their spare parts. At the same time there is a global market for arms. It is not evident that anything withheld by the Russians cannot be sourced from that market. We have in the past bought guns from Sweden, ships from the U.K. and aircraft from France.
  • Philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam-If there is a maxim that conveys an ancient belief of Indians; it is Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, implying that the world is a family. Families do not usually tolerate the bullying of the weak by those stronger among them.

Way Forward

  • Vishwaguru’ or World Teacher-By continuing to see herself as the world’s teacher while refusing to take a stand on the invasion of Ukraine, India mocks her chosen self-image. A teacher is granted respect for speaking truth to power.
  • Standing up for what you believe in brings with it the possibility of encountering hardship. But then, sticking to its principles is not just in India’s national interest, it is also its own reward.
  • India’s foreign policy establishment seems to have missed its significance for the world. India must take a long view of how it wants to engage with it.

Q. Should India take sides in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Discuss

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