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September 17, 2009

India’s security council seat was given up.

Filed under: India, politics, Uncategorized — neosurya @ 07:24

Just learnt that India was once offered a  seat in the UN Security Council way back in 1955, but rejected it. There may have been a lot of arm-twisting by existing powers at that time for us to give it up. But even then. giving it up was a sad strategic decision. I read about it in the Business Line, in an article titled “UN reforms — a fading mirage?” on Sept 16th 2009, Full article URL; excerpt below:

Ironically, around 1955, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was offered the disputed Chinese Permanent Security Council seat by the US to keep out the People’s Republic of China, and he also was sounded out by the USSR Prime Minister, Nikolai Bulganin, to allow China to take this seat while giving India a sixth permanent seat in the Security Council. Nehru rejected this offer in deference to China. History may have been different if this offer had been subjected to serious negotiations. Now, 54 years later, we are struggling for this seat.

Update on October 26 2009:

It appears that all was not so bad. I did think that there must have been some big time arm twisting. And, the Sept 16th 2009 article in Business line seems to be doing bad reporting. There are other takes on Nehru’ stance; Excerpt from an article in the Hindu:

Nehru showed sound judgment in rejecting it and in refusing to walk into the trap. It would have earned India the lasting hostility of China, contempt of the nations of the Third World and of the United States too, conceited, albeit, with perfect discretion; and eventually, a resounding snub from the Soviet Union. India would not, indeed could not, have got the seat; only the odium for immaturity and opportunism.


“Regarding your suggestion about the four power conference we would take appropriate action. While we are discussing the general international situation and reducing tension, we propose suggesting at a later stage India’s inclusion as the sixth member of the Security Council.

JN: Perhaps Bulganin knows that some people in USA have suggested that India should replace China in the Security Council. This is to create trouble between us and China. We are, of course, wholly opposed to it. Further, we are opposed to pushing ourselves forward to occupy certain positions because that may itself create difficulties and India might itself become a subject to controversy. If India is to be admitted to the Security Council, it raises the question of the revision of the Charter of the U.N. We feel that this should not be done till the question of China’s admission and possibly of others is first solved. I feel that we should first concentrate on getting China admitted. What is Bulganin’s opinion about the revision of the Charter? In our opinion this does not seem to be an appropriate time for it.

Bulganin: We proposed the question of India’s membership of the Security Council to get your views, but agree that this is not the time for it and it will have to wait for the right moment later on. We also agree that things should be taken one by one (page 231; emphasis added, throughout).

Bulganin did not make an “offer”. He threw a feeler to test India. He himself recognised that “this is not the time for it”. Had Nehru jumped at the bait, he would have courted certain disappointment before long.

Later, in a Note on his tour of the USSR and other countries, dated August 1, 1955, Nehru wrote: “Informally, suggestions have been made by the United States that China should be taken into the United Nations but not in the Security Council and that India should take her place in the Security Council. We cannot of course accept this as it means falling out with China and it would be very unfair for a great country like China not to be in the Security Council. We have, therefore, made it clear to those who suggested this that we cannot agree to this suggestion. We have even gone a little further and said that India is not anxious to enter the Security Council at this stage, even though as a great country she ought to be there. The first step to be taken is for China to take her rightful place and then the question of India might be considered separately” (page 303).



  1. So you think giving up the SC seat was not all that bad?

    What did we get in return? remember 1962?

    And now do you consider China’s attitude to be friendly with all that Arunachal stuff and projects in PoK?

    Comment by Puneet — January 8, 2010 @ 12:44

    • My post seems to have been misread; I consider that it would have been sheer stupidity to give up the SC seat. I was only saying that what Nehru did was not too bad because the seat was not offered to India in the first place. It was a ploy by the US to make us look like fools; thankfully Nehru did not bite it.

      Looking at the transcripts of that time, I do not believe that India was ever offered a seat in the first place. So, Nehru actually did not “refuse” it. The step was more of a ploy by the US – we would have never gotten the seat anyhow, and it would have distanced us from USSR, which was supporting us on material terms.

      As for China, it has rarely been friendly to anyone, including its own citizen.

      Comment by neosurya — January 8, 2010 @ 16:58

  2. “Nehru showed sound judgment in rejecting it and in refusing to walk into the trap. It would have earned India the lasting hostility of China”

    Ha! thats pure shit !!
    how can anyone with any kind of working brain – support that argument ??!! no wonder nehru was so naive. I mean if he wanted to avoid hostility, why did he start the fuss when China started netting Tibet ???

    Comment by Anand Upadhyay — February 15, 2010 @ 18:35

    • I cannot agree with you more – “lasting hostility of China” is a joke. There is nothing predictable with China and Nehru should have cared less about China. However, those were the 1950’s. Both China and India were very young countries and there had been few engagements if at all to learn about each other. Contemporary leaders have much more information about China that what was available in those times. There was no offer of the security council. It was just a ploy to make India look foolish. The US at that time always saw our neighbor as a more useful partner than ourselves.

      Comment by neosurya — February 16, 2010 @ 04:15

  3. The point is not whether India was or was not “offered” a seat on the UNSC. If it was just an idea floated by Bulganin or the U.S., India could have called their bluff instead of playing the “friendly neighbor” to China. By the way, in 1955, China had already occupied large chunks of Indian territory in J&K. So, China’s hostility and treachery was already evident. Let us call a spade a spade and see the facts in the face by accepting the fact that Nehru DID, in fact, put India on a wrong track in many ways and does not deserve to be worshiped like he is. Do we have the courage to correct his errors by changing course for the better?

    Comment by Subhash Bhagwat — February 16, 2010 @ 22:17

    • I doubt that India only intended to play”friendly neighbor”. Russia also had a role here, and it would have been in our interests to not go against them. The US had always had a self-centered outlook towards any South Asian nation that it collaborated with in those days. Look at Pakistan, South Korea, Vietnam – any nation that received US help in any form has had to contend with civil unrest or another problem caused by the US either covertly or overtly. MAYBE the US policies are different these days, but the US of those days offered a carrot to someone only if it had a huge stick. Russia was also no holier-than-thou, it also had its own war games. But as far as India was concerned, we did well taking the help of Russia to develop and snubbing the US.

      As for Nehru taking us down the wrong track, I am not here to worship him. He WAS naive and made mistakes like Kashmir. But I would not like to crucify any leader for everything (like the so-called Indian Security Council seat).

      Comment by neosurya — February 22, 2010 @ 09:27

  4. I do agree that Nehru did not jump at it when feelers put out. There was no serious offer. In any case a serious offer could have been made jointly bu US and Soviet Union and that did not happen.

    I agree that it is pointless to blame Nehru for not taking seriously an offer that was not made.

    Comment by Ambassador K.P.Fabian — March 11, 2010 @ 19:45

    • Thanks for your post. Unfortunately, most of our countrymen are prone to jumping up and down at issues rather than thinking them through. This is not only about our citizen, but most people are like that. We get carried away and do not deliberate on an issue for long enough. That is probably the reason why most just blame Nehru.

      Comment by neosurya — March 11, 2010 @ 19:54

  5. I do not think that UN Security Council reforms will come in a jiffy. India becoming a Second Class Permanent
    member, probably the non-veto kind,
    may at best come about after a few years.Wooing a hostile country like China is not worthwhile.In the past also, such magnanimity was never viewed with any favour by the Chinese.So we might as well had taken the sixth seat offered at the UN Security Council, leaving China’s seat with the Taiwanese regime, allowing China to fend for itself.It will also be futile to expect the present Veto-wielding Powers of the UN Security Council to give it up in any future reforms.

    Comment by kahanam — November 17, 2010 @ 14:38

  6. Nehru may did that. He is such person responsible for today’s difficulties. He raised kashmir issue in U.N for peace settlement which gave pakistan a ground for its arguement for kashmir. I think he was a psycophant of china and he love china more than his mathrubhoomi. His blunders had made india out of voice in U.N security council. That’s why he is called as ‘pandithji ‘!!

    Comment by S.r.v — July 17, 2012 @ 12:47

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