Take the 2-minute tour ×
History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

As per this article, India was offered a permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 1955 but Jawaharlal Nehru turned it down and the seat went to China. In light of the current lobbying that India is making for a permanent seat, what prompted Nehru to turn it down?

Update: As per this news item, India did not receive any offer. So I believe the question becomes, who to believe, The Washington Post or The Hindu?

share|improve this question
    
Note that Nehru was big on friendship with China (at least till 62), and this might have been a token of friendship. –  apoorv020 Feb 9 '12 at 20:39

3 Answers 3

up vote 15 down vote accepted

China had a permanent seat since 1945

As one of the "Big Four" allies in World War II (China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States), the Republic of China (ROC) was one of the founding members of the United Nations. President Franklin Roosevelt had acknowledged China's war effort in World War II and stated his desire to allow China to "play its proper role in maintaining peace and prosperity" in the world, even though China was not socially influential or militarily strong1. Thus, despite opposition from other leaders, especially Winston Churchill, [3] China became a permanent member of the Security Council from its creation in 1945.

However after the Chinese Civil War, China was represented by the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the UN until 1971.

As for India being offered a seat in the UN in 1955 - I don't know how true that is but there is another reference from 2008 mentioning the same thing. I'm not sure how trustworthy that reference is though. In addition the term "offer" is very vague - it could simply mean that the US indicated support for an Indian permanent membership. If the UN had formally agreed to let India in, it would have been very big news probably requiring a vote in the General Assembly. So it's pretty much impossible that India had the choice of taking a permanent seat in the council in 1955.

If the incident (in whatever form) did happen though, then Nehru probably meant that the People's Republic of China (mainland China) should be given permanent representation in the Security Council as part of an ongoing effort at that time to improve Indo-Chinese relations.

share|improve this answer
2  
+1 For the distinction on China, THAT always gets confused by people as to the ROC and PRoC. –  MichaelF Feb 9 '12 at 12:56

I doubt very much if India was offered a perm member of the security council despite their great and many contributions to "winning" World Ward II and all the soldiers they contributed on three different continents under British command. Nehru was stupid in believing in the United Nations as are the majority of Indians that believe that UN has a positive value to the wellbeing of the Indian people. At the same time making China a veto-yielding member was a grave mistake. The best thing India can do is to leave the United Nations completely. The UK, the US and Russian Federation definitely should be Perm members of the security council. The others are spectators at best or mischief makers at worse.

share|improve this answer
1  
This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. –  Comintern Oct 9 at 23:46

From independent sources, I'd go with the India.com version: India never received any such offer.

The UN actually existed during WW2. This is what the group of countries allied against the Axis powers called themselves. The Security Council was the group of countries that were actually the major allies supplying large numbers of troops in the fight, and thus needed to periodically get together to coordinate grand strategic war plans. If you read Churchill's history of WWII, he mentioned that China was included in these meetings because they were actively fighting Japan (in a way, those two were the first belligerents of the war) and Roosevelt insisted they be included. I get the impression Churchill didn't share Roosevelt's view of the value of Chinese involvement. However, their relative feelings about France were essentially mirror images of this, so both France and China were put on as sort of a compromise.

This explains why votes from permanent members of the Security Council of the UN require unanimity. During the war, it would have been actively harmful to the UN alliance (which had to be maintained if they hoped to survive) for one group of members to engage in a major action the rest were dead set against.

After the war, some of these countries became enemies with each other, so there was no way they'd agree to change the rules in a way that significantly lessened their own power. This is why this little club has never really changed, and the "non-permanent" members do not get vetoes. This is also why I highly doubt there ever was (or ever will be) any real offer to add India, or anybody else.

In short, permanent membership is not a statement of your country's value or size or anything. At this point its just a historical accident.

share|improve this answer
6  
Personal note: I'm not advocating the status quo here, just explaining it. It would actually make a lot of sense IMHO to take the UK and French seats and just give them a single permanent "EU" seat, and then give India a permanent seat. However, I'm sure the UK and France would be horrified at this idea. Probably China would be too, for different reasons. So I highly doubt any such thing will ever happen. –  T.E.D. Apr 20 '12 at 20:03
1  
Besides, for a series of reasons too long to be summarized in a comment, it is unlikely that India will ever have a place at the UN SC before settling all border disputes with China and (especially) with Pakistan. –  astabada Dec 18 '12 at 14:03
    
Are you saying that the UN literally existed during WW II or are you referring to the Combined Chiefs of Staff by analogy? I am not (yet) aware of usages that equate the two terms. –  Drux Jun 27 '13 at 4:55
    
Sorry, but this is alternative history. There was no security council and the United Nations Organization during WWII. –  Anixx Aug 25 '13 at 9:39
1  
The post is the source of the claim that India received the offer; could you clarify your first line? I've written to the authors of the Post article and asked for clarification, since many of the facts simply don't add up. –  Mark C. Wallace Aug 26 '13 at 18:40

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.