Friday, June 29, 2007

Shashi Tharoor

We need to build bridges - India represents one billion people. That is a sizable chunk of humanity. Why then is it not a permanent member of the UN Security Council?

That is because the Security Council still represents the geo-political realities of 1945 and not of today.In 1945, we were still a colony. But we were treated as one of the members of the UN. Since then, the world has changed a great deal. Not only have we become the kind of country we have become, but also many other countries like Germany and Japan have evolved differently. But these are the two countries which are still described in the UN Charter as “enemy states”. Yet, Japan is the second largest contributor to the UN and Germany is the third. These are countries that have made big contributions to the organisation, and are still treated by the Charter as the enemies of the allies of 1945.

So in that sense, a very high threshold to amend the Charter has been placed by its framers. This means that there is very little possibility of creating a new structure in the Security Council, unless you can arrive at a formula which attracts the support of two-thirds of the countries of the world, and that formula is then ratified by two-thirds of the parliaments of the world.

Unless you have a formula that fulfills those two criteria, you will not have an amendment to the Charter. And this anomaly is, therefore, likely to continue.

How long will a nation of one billion-strong people be dictated to by the world body?

That is being very simplistic. No one is dictating to India. In fact, to begin with, in the Security Council, there are 15 countries. And the permanent ones are only five. So they wouldn’t get their way on anything if others didn’t agree with them. That is the first point.

Second, when there is sufficient resistance and scepticism, they don’t get their way, which is what happened when in 2003, the US put forward a resolution to essentially authorise the war in Iraq. They simply couldn’t get the nine votes required to pass a resolution. So it is too simplistic to speak in terms of dictation.

It’s true that these five have certain position of authority, but it’s also very much worth bearing in mind that they can only get their way if others let them.
The general perception is that the UN is a toothless body. What would an insider like you have to say about it?

If it had been that toothless, then there would be no great anxiety on the parts of countries that are not on the Security Council to get on the Council. Clearly, the reason they want the status is because they believe that it is not toothless. They believe that it does make a difference.

What is your opinion about President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s candidature for the post of president for a second term? Should the Electoral College bow to popular demand and break with tradition?

I would be in favour of a second term for a highly respected President who has captured the popular imagination. The Presidency is above all a symbol of the Indian state. And what finer symbol than a man, who as a boy, sold newspapers to make ends meet, and went on to become one of the country’s leading scientists and the father of the missile programme, a Muslim steeped in India’s ancient civilisational ethos, and a forward-thinking visionary who can inspire the young? The “tradition” is not sanctified, by the way. Dr Rajendra Prasad had two terms.

(Dr. Tharoor’s opinion regarding the presidential election was expressed prior to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam withdrawing from the race to preserve the dignity of the office. — Editor – Weekend – Khaleej Times)- By Pratibha Umashankar (Cover Story – Weekend – Khaleej Times – 29 JUNE 2007).

We at Librahitech admires Dr. Tharoor. We believe that the world community has lost a golden opportunity by failing to elect this charismatic Indian as the next Secretary General of the UNO.

We also believe strongly that President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is ideally suited to remain as the President of India for another term.

Prathap G., Sharjah

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