News: The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine has put moral responsibility on India as one of  the world’s largest countries and its populous democracy. At present, the Indian government has abstained in the UN Security Council vote on Ukraine. It has refused to condemn the violation of rights of the Ukrainians.

What are the arguments justifying India’s stance?

“Principle of National Interest” – In international affairs a country must be guided by its national interest. In the present situation, India’s interests have been clearly spelled out as:

  • High dependence of India on Russia for defense equipment.
  • India need of Russia for support on the Pakistan issue in the Security Council.

“East-West Conflict” – the Russian invasion and the West’s reaction is a conflict between the east and the west and India should stay out of it.

Historical Precedent – This is not the first time that such a line has been taken by India. Based on the same principles, India has previously abstained from voting in the UN on the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956.

What are the arguments against India’s stance?

National interest lies in following International Principles: India presently is facing territorial aggression from China. If India doesn’t want to see itself as a victim of territorial aggression in future, it must condemn Russia’s action. Hence, India should base its decision on international principles of “peaceful co-existence” and “territorial sovereignty.”

Defence supply agreement: It is not evident that anything supplied by the Russians cannot be sourced from the global arms market. For example, India has brought guns from Sweden, ships from the UK, aircrafts from France.

Difference between 1956 and now: Unlike in the 1950’s, the West doesn’t unconditionally support Pakistan vis-a-vis India. Presently, Russia encourages Pakistan.

looking at this situation through an “East v. West” lens Narrow approach is not correct. This situation shows “unprovoked aggression” by a strong country towards an Independent country.  It is against the Indian principles of “Vasudev Kutumbakam” and its aim of becoming a “Vishwaguru”.

Lastly, at present, India should stands in the company of Russia and China, which are not democracies as understood. India needs to rethink on the lines of it’s democratic principles and Panchsheel.

Source: This post is created based on the article “No ovation for India’s stand on the Ukraine war”, published in The Hindu on 14th March, 2022.

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