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India at UNSC: Can we be a force for the global good?

India is set to take over the presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the month of August, which also comes at a time when there is a year to go for India to mark and celebrate 75 years of independence. India is the first member in the UNSC for 2021-22. Former Permanent Representative to the UN, Syed Akbaruddin, tweeted that this will be the first time an Indian prime minister will preside over the UNSC.

The presidency assumes significance because, since time immemorial, India has sought global good. Not just that, but she has modelled her development journey to become a force for global good.

A classic example is of Hansa Mehta, who changed the face of international law, without whom, as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has already acknowledged, "We would likely be speaking of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man ratherthan of Human Rights." We cannot forget MS Subbulakshmi, who, on the invitation of the then secretary-general U Thant, was invited to perform because of the United Nations Day in 1966, where she sang the famous song of peace and hope, Maitreem Bajata. The UN postal administration issued a special stamp on her birth centenary that also marked the 50th year of her 1966 performance.

Since it came into existence, the UN has seen some terrific diplomats from India. One name that comes to mind is Vijayalakshrni Pandit, the first woman secretary-general of the United Nations. Her birth anniversary falls on August 18. With a combination of public diplomacy and soft power, India has contributed to the overall vision and mission of the United Nations.

While the past is worth recounting, it is the present that will help make sense of the future.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi and foreign secretary Harsh Shringla recently enunciated, a pillar of India's foreign policy is to be a "force for global good". This has probably entered the first time in letter and spirit into the foreign policy discourse and is a welcome change.

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