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Sunday Special » Perspective

Posted at: Mar 19, 2017, 12:02 AM; last updated: Mar 19, 2017, 1:53 AM (IST)HERE & NOW: AS I PLEASE

A UN high seat without a veto?

By K. Natwar Singh
On the one hand we aspire to becoming a world power and on the other, we are satisfied with a “chhut bhaiya” status
A UN high seat without a veto?
A few days back it was reported from the UN that India, Brazil, Japan and Germany had agreed to become non-veto permanent members of the Security Council with the gracious approval (not assurance) of the P5. India and the other three would get the veto in a decade or so. (These may not be exact words). This is pie in the sky.

When I was External Affairs Minister, I said in the Rajya Sabha that to India, accepting second-class permanent membership i.e. without a veto would not be acceptable. Now a new policy has been enunciated. On the one hand we aspire to becoming a world power and on the other we are satisfied with a “chhut bhaiya” status. 

How did the veto find a place in the UN Charter? When the charter was being discussed at the San Francisco conference in 1945, Cordell Hull, the US delegate, pronounced: “The veto provision was an absolute condition for the USA participating in the United Nations.” The super powers would not be subject to any collective coercion. The veto ensured that the General Assembly or the Security Council could not act against any of the five permanent members. The Mexican delegate to the conference said that under the UN Charter, “the mice would be disciplined, but the lions would go free.”


THE results of the UP Assembly brought a wholly unexpected outcome. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the architect of the BJP’s resounding victory with his brilliant organiser, Sancho Panza (no offence meant) ably taking care of the nitty-gritty. There is one amendment to be made in the celebrated novel of Miguel De Cervantes. Narendra Modi is no Don Quixote. He is an outstanding orator. He has the potential of becoming an outstanding leader. On March 11, 2017, the political weather and the political climate of north India changed with a bang. Alas! The Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Rajaji, Azad era is fading away. The freedom movement is becoming a memory.

The economic pundits questioned the wisdom of the PM on demonetising, including Manmohan Singh. The Prime Minister took a calculated risk. It paid off handsomely. If one wishes to take a risk, take a big one. As of today, there is no stopping Narendra bhai in 2017. He has also announced his first five year plan-2017-2022. Nothing succeeds like success. Just as nothing succeeds like failure. 

But for Amarinder Singh, nationally the Congress would have been reduced to a sub-regional party. A regional party it already is. The Punjab Chief Minister is now a pan-Indian politician. He is a gracious and polite man with an iron fist. He will deliver. I do not know the Badals personally, but the manner in which they misruled Punjab does them no credit. Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal also got a wrap on his knuckles. But don’t write him off.

I have great affection for Rahul Gandhi. Like his adorable father, he is affable, civic, deferential and refined. Is he cut out to be a politician? The jury is still out. The UP results must have devastated the Congress — seven out of 400 seats. The Congress needs blood transfusion. The Congress doctor, Sonia Gandhi, is missing. 

I have intimately known and worked with the Gandhis for decades. It goes against my grain to say that the voter is now talking about Gandhi fatigue. Congress revival needs divine intervention.


THE Saudi royal family are looked upon with enormous religious respect by the Sunni Muslims. Mecca and Madina are what Kashi, Tirupati, Dwarka, Vaishno Devi etc are for Hindus. India has age-old and cordial relations with the Arab world. Millions of Indian work there and earn good money.

Recently His Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia visited Indonesia. According to media reports, His Majesty’s delegation consisted of 1,000 persons and five ton baggage. Did the media weigh the luggage or count the delegates?


NINETY per cent Indian (Hindus) marriages never begin on time and once begun never seems to end. The baarat occupies the road as traffic is dislocated for hours. The policemen on duty stand immobile. The music is loud, the clothes garish, the bridegroom sitting on a horse looks as if he is about to fall. 

Next follows the marriage ceremony. The phoney pandits keep prolonging their recitation from the shastras. No one understands a word of Sanskrit. Then, dinner. Nearly two dozen varieties of chilli-loaded foods and any amount of alcohol are served. No shortage of drunks. No style, no elegance. And the well-advertised dowry. I remember a very wealthy Gujjar gentleman presented the bridegroom family with a helicopter. At a recent marriage in a part of Maharashtra, the number of guests was 30,000. Several central ministers were among the guests. What an example to set.

For five thousand years our twice-born Brahmins have monopolised the control of marriage rituals. Only a few can challenge them. I and my princely wife did. No ill effects followed.

I could read the Gita, the Rigveda, Upanishads, Vedanta only in English. What a travesty! But no alternative is available.


IN 1959 the former Labour Party Prime Minister Lord Attlee and Lady Attlee came to Delhi as personal guests of Prime Minister Nehru. He, of course, received them at Palam. I, too, was there in my capacity as undersecretary in-charge of UK. I asked Lord Attlee if he had read Mr Herbert Morrison’s recently published autobiography. Attlee replied: “I gave up reading fiction a long time ago.”


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