Hardeep Singh Puri, India's permanent representative to the United Nations, takes on a few questions in a short interaction with Pankaj Vohra. Puri talks about India's priorities in the Security Council and the controversy over US security personnel wanting to pat down his turban. Excerpts:
What will be India's priorities in the Security Council?
India's priorities will be determined by the Security Council Agenda. The existing agenda focuses heavily on threats to international peace and security in Africa. India has considerable empathy, knowledge and experience when it comes to Africa and will add value to the deliberations of the Council. We are also the leading contributor of UN peacekeepers having contributed 1 lakh peacekeepers to virtually every peacekeeping operation in the last 50 years. The expertise that we bring in this core UN activity is unparalleled.
The Council has a focus on terrorism. We have an immediate national interest in the counter-terrorism regimes that are being developed by the Council. It is also noteworthy that no democracy has as many neighbours on the Security Council's agenda as India.
This will naturally be a priority for us.
What are the prospects of India becoming a permanent member?
An overwhelming number of nations believe that India's credentials for a permanent seat are the strongest. The manner in which we carried the election to the Security Council is an indication of support levels for India. This groundswell of opinion has found reflection in New York. A document, drawn from inter-governmental deliberations on Security Council reform is currently being prepared for serious negotiations. This document outlines the reforms that the Member States want, including an increase in the Permanent Membership. Negotiations on a text mean that the last mile of the journey could be at hand.
Did you protest when you were asked to remove your turban?
Security regulations are a sovereign prerogative and each country devises such procedures as it deems fit. As a responsible global citizen, I have never sought exemptions from such procedures. I merely objected to the agents not following established process. I refused the pat down. I was found to be correct. That is the end of the matter.
Don't you think that India should impose reciprocity?