Obama charms India

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A bomb would have been kinder. Hysteria has set in the Pakistani establishment after US President Barack Obama formally endorsed India for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Having played the jilted lovers role of late, at least as far as relations with the US are concerned, Pakistan is going to interpret this bombshell as the last straw on the camels back. It is being viewed, not incorrectly, as the most significant development in US-India relations.

Should we worry, though? Truth be told, Indias permanent seat was only inevitable. We should get a reality check. Our neighbour to the east is the worlds second-biggest country. It is the worlds largest democracy. True, the disenfranchised lot in the country is huge and all of India is not shining but there is something to be said for its history of fluent democracy. Though China and the erstwhile Soviet Unions example show that democracy is no criterion.

But will India actually get its seat? Not in the near future. First of all, President Obama only expressed his initial support. Many a slip between the cup and lip. How things will turn out will depend on many variables. First of all, endorsement by the US is not all that counts. There are other permanent members as well, those with veto powers. Though Chinas example immediately comes to mind, others could have issues as well. Apprehensions about a changing balance of power could be veiled with a number of arguments. How can a country become an apex member of a body whose resolution on Kashmir it so overtly disrespects?

Finally, we need to step into the 21st century. The Indians are no doubt excited about the UN but they are almost as interested in trade ties. Whereas our establishments foreign relations doctrine still focuses on strategic (military, diplomatic) partnerships, the more proactive nations seek economic and financial partnerships. Policy is driven by economics and the desire to provide better living standards to citizens, not hackneyed ideologies. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can emerge from the global sick-man status we have acquired of late. Maybe then the world can beat a path to our door as well.