Former Union Minister and career diplomat Shashi Tharoor today suggested that India should be a “little more outspoken” at the United Nations “as we have been on the Bucha tragedy”. While the country has a “duty” to look to its own interests, on balance is a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, to which New Delhi has been aspiring for long, he pointed out.
“We mustn’t be a state whose silence is taken for granted… I think we should be a state whose good opinion people are anxious to have. And they will only be anxious to have it if there is fear that once in a while, we will call them out when they’re falling short of standards,” he told NDTV in an exclusive interview this evening.
“Don’t forget, we’re a country that has been clamouring for a seat, a permanent seat on the Security Council. Clearly, if we are not cooperative, stand on any issue, the world can turn round,” he added.
Yesterday, in its strongest statement so far on the Ukraine crisis, India condemned the civilian killings in Ukraine’s Bucha and supported the call for an independent investigation at the UN Security Council.
“The recent reports of civilian killings in Bucha are deeply disturbing. We unequivocally condemn these killings and support call for an independent investigation,” India’s envoy to the United Nations TS Tirumurti had said.
Images of mass graves and bodies of civilians who were apparently executed in public places, emerging from the Russia-occupied town has evoked outrage across the world, triggering calls for more sanctions against Russia and vows of action at the International Criminal Court.
India has so far taken a neutral stand on the war which is in its second month — a stance Mr Tharoor described as “slightly wishy-washy”.
“I think it’s important that we have sent the signal because it was getting uncomfortable continually taking this kind of slightly wishy washy stand talking about both sides de-escalating and the importance of peace and diplomacy…” he said.
He, however, added that India has “every right” to look to the well being of its own people. “If Russia is offering every discount in oil and gas and affordable fertiliser, both of which we need, that we should take it and find an arrangement which would not egregiously violate American sanctions and yet at the same time, with uphold our right to treat the Russians as a valuable commercial partner,” he said.
While the government, he said, is managing this “reasonably well”, “I do believe that we can stand for more than that in the world,” he added.