June 16, 2006Foreign Affairs

The next UN Secretary-General’s nationality is irrelevant (2)

The wastefulness of promoting Shashi Tharoor’s candidature

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

The Indian government has taken up a pointless task — that of promoting Shashi Tharoor to succeed Kofi Annan as Secretary-General of the United Nations. Apart from reducing Tharoor to the stature of Munir Akram, Pakistan’s colourful UN ambassador and candidate, this move achieves nothing. Tharoor’s candidature is unlikely to succeed, and even if he did, it won’t do much for India. Sending part of the foreign policy establishment on a wild goose chase at a time when there are pressing matters in the neighbourhood and beyond is an act of extravangant waste that India can ill afford.

But first let’s assume that the UN Secretary-General really matters. A South Asian or an Asian nationality does not guarantee that he or she will be sympathetic to Indian positions. In fact, even if an Indian national were to somehow occupy that office, it is difficult to see him making a difference where India’s stakes are concerned. Apart from spoils in the UN bureaucracy — some jobs, some plum appointments, some promotions perhaps — there’s little that an Indian/South Asian/Asian Secretary-General can do for India. Notions of geographical or regional solidarity do not even correlate with the promotion of national interests. Are Africa or Ghana any better off due to Kofi Annan’s office? Certain African individuals certainly are. Kojo Annan, for example. [The Acorn]

Moreover, it is generally accepted that candidates from major powers don’t get the job. So why is the India so keen to downgrade itself?

Update: If, as some reports suggest, Pakistan has put up its candidates as spoilers to extract concessions from India, then in a grand gesture of subcontinental solidarity, India would do well to retract its candidate. Now, wouldn’t that be a nice confidence building measure?

If you would like to share or comment on this, please discuss it on my GitHub Previous
ULFA’s long tail
Sunday Levity: An exercise for you, the reader

© Copyright 2003-2024. Nitin Pai. All Rights Reserved.