A ground plan for India’s reformed multilateralism


  • Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s visit to the United States has set the stage for an expansive range of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy by India. It is a unique visit as it seeks to achieve a vast list of objectives led by the Indian delegation’s participation in the High-Level Week at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
  • Coming just after the recently concluded Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet in Samarkand, which was attended by the Prime Minister, India’s varied multilateral engagements showcase a road map for India’s renewed multilateral diplomacy.

About UNSC:

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN).

Mandates of UNSC:

  1. Ensuring international peace and security
  2. recommending the admission of new UN members to the General Assembly
  3. approving any changes to the UN Charter
  4. establishing peacekeeping operations
  5. enacting international sanctions
  6. authorizing military action

The UNSC is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions on member states. It is headquartered at NewYork


  • The council has 15 members: 5 permanent members and 10 non-permanent members elected for 2-year terms.
  • The 5 permanent members are the United States, Russia, France, China and the United Kingdom.
  • Each year, the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members (out of ten in total) for a two-year term. The ten non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis. India is currently a non-permanent member of UNSC for two years i.e 2021-22.
  • The council’s presidency is a capacity that rotates every month among its 15 members.

Voting Powers:

  • Each member of the Security Council has one vote. Decisions of the Security Council on matters are made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members. A “No” vote from one of the five permanent members blocks the passage of the resolution. This is known as the veto power of the P5 group (Permanent 5 members of UNSC).
  • Any member of the United Nations which is not a member of the Security Council may participate, without vote, in the discussion of any question brought before the Security Council whenever the latter considers that the interests of that member are specially affected.

The UN’s faultlines

  • UN-led multilateralism has been unable to provide strong mechanisms to prevent wars. The shadow of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has loomed large over several deadlocks in UNSC resolutions since the war broke out in February this year. With the West boycotting Russia, the veto provision of the UNSC is expected to reach an even more redundant level than in the past. As such, a reformed multilateralism with greater representation could generate deeper regional stakes to prevent wars.
  • China’s aggression in the South China Sea, the Indo-Pacific region, and now increasingly globally, have also underscored the limitations of the UN-style multilateralism. China’s growing dominance could lead it to carve its own multilateral matrix circumventing the West, economically and strategically. The international isolation of Russia and Iran as well as increasing the United States’ Taiwan-related steps could usher in these changes more rapidly than expected.
  • China’s unabashed use of veto power against India continues at the UN. In the most recent case, it blocked a joint India-U.S. proposal at the UN to enlist Sajid Mir, a top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative involved in directing the 2008 Mumbai attacks, as a ‘global terrorist’.
  • Consistent with the changing times, India’s call for reform of the UNSC has grown in the past few years. In this regard, Mr. Jaishankar’s hosting of a ministerial meeting of the G4 (Brazil, India, Germany and Japan) holds special significance.
  • Another high-level meeting of the Indian delegation with the L.69 Group, on “Reinvigorating Multilateralism and Achieving Comprehensive Reform of the UN Security Council”, will be critical in the planning of the next steps. The L.69 group’s vast membership spread over Asia, Africa, Latin America, Caribbean and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) could bring about a wider global consensus on the issue of the UNSC reforms.

India is also a member of multilateral groups like

  1. Quad (Australia, India, Japan, the U.S.)
  2. IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa
  3. BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)
  4. India-CARICOM (Caribbean Community)
  5. Trilateral formats, such as India-France-Australia, India-France-the United Arab Emirates and India-Indonesia-Australia

Way forward: Overhauling the Security Council

  • At the heart of India’s participation in the 77th General Assembly is the call for a ‘reformed multilateralism’ through which the United Nations Security Council should reform itself into a more inclusive organisation representing the contemporary realities of today. India’s call for this structural overhaul of global multilateral institutions incorporates institutional accountability and a wider representation of the developing countries.
  • At least three recent global developments reflective of the UN’s functional evaluation have stood out in India’s quest for a reform of the UN. The COVID-19 pandemic was a weak moment for UN’s multilateralism. It highlighted the UN’s institutional limitations when countries closed their borders, supply chains were interrupted and almost every country was in need of vaccines.
  • Countries of the global South, including India, which stepped up through relief efforts, drug distribution and vaccine manufacturing, have created space for a more inclusive UN, particularly through its Security Council (UNSC) reform.
  • India’s emphasis on reinvigorated multilateralism coincides with a critical juncture in the UN-led multilateralism. Just as burden-sharing has become integral to evolving multilateralism between regional countries, the UN could integrate such practices within its institutional ambit.

Conclusion :

Beyond the UN, the Minister’s participation in plurilateral meetings underlines India’s search for new frameworks of global governance, amidst growing frustration with the extant multilateral order. As Mr. Jaishankar has rightly highlighted in his remarks at the UN, at a challenging time for the world order, New Delhi continues to affirm its commitment to “diplomacy and the need for international cooperation”.

Shifting monsoon patterns


India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said that the monsoon has begun to retreat from Rajasthan.

About monsoon:

  • Monsoon is traditionally a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with annual latitudinal oscillation of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) between its limits to the north and south of the equator.
  • Generally, across the world, the monsoons are experienced in the tropical area roughly between 20° N and 20° S.
  • The climate of India is described as the ‘monsoon’ type. In Asia, this type of climate is found mainly in the south and the southeast.

Monsoon in India consists of 2 seasons:

  1. The southwest monsoon season – Rainfall received from the southwest monsoons is seasonal in character, which occurs between June and September.
  2. The retreating monsoon season – The months of October and November are known for retreating monsoons.

Factors Influencing South-West Monsoon Formation

  1. The differential heating and cooling of land and water creates a low pressure on the landmass of India while the seas around experience comparatively high pressure.
  2. The shift of the position of ITCZ in summer, over the Ganga plain (this is the equatorial trough normally positioned about 5°N of the equator. It is also known as the monsoon-trough during the monsoon season).
  3. The Tibetan plateau gets intensely heated during summer, which results in strong vertical air currents and the formation of low pressure over the plateau at about 9 km above sea level.
  4. The movement of the westerly jet stream to the north of the Himalayas and the presence of the tropical easterly jet stream over the Indian peninsula during summer.
  5. Southern Oscillation (SO): Normally when the tropical eastern south Pacific Ocean experiences high pressure, the tropical eastern Indian Ocean experiences low pressure. But in certain years, there is a reversal in the pressure conditions and the eastern Pacific has lower pressure in comparison to the eastern Indian Ocean. This periodic change in pressure conditions is known as the SO.

Monsoon onset:

Monsoon enters mainland India between the last week of May and the first week of June — though June 1 is its official onset date over Kerala. The IMD only counts the rainfall between June 1 and September 30 as monsoon rainfall. This doesn’t mean that the monsoon system ceases to pour rain over India from October 1. In fact, monsoon-related rain can continue well into the first fortnight of October and only really retreats from India by late October.

Monsoon withdrawal:

  • The retreating, or northeast monsoon in November, is the key source of rainfall for several parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and north interior Karnataka. The monsoon begins its withdrawal from the last State it reaches, which is Rajasthan.
  • Around September 15, cyclonic systems from the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal that fuel the monsoon from June-September are replaced by an ‘anti-cyclone’ circulation which means dry, windless conditions start to prevail over western and northern India.
  • Withdrawal is a cessation of rainfall activity over northwest India for five straight days, an anticyclone establishing itself in the lower troposphere and a marked reduction in moisture content.

Monsoon 2022:

  • Monsoon rainfall in India has been surplus by around 7% this year though with extreme inequity. Central and southern India saw a sharp surge in rainfall, with the last month seeing several instances of flooding in Kerala, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.
  • On the other hand, large parts of U. P., Bihar, Odisha have seen large deficits. The east, north-west and north-east of India have reported a shortfall.
  • This has impacted sowing of the kharif, or summer crop. Paddy planting has been impacted. The Centre is expecting a minimum of six-million tonne (6 MTs) shortfall in rice production and this is likely to elevate inflation.

Excessive rains in southern and central India:

  • In April, the IMD had forecast ‘normal’ rains over India but by May-end indicated it to be above normal. Central India and the southern peninsula were expected to get 6% more than their historical average but what we have seen are rains far in excess of this. These heavy rains are premised on a La Nina, the converse phenomenon of the El Nino and characterised by cooler than normal sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific.
  • While, El Ninos are linked to reduced rains over India, La Ninas indicate surplus rainfall. India is seeing an extended spell of the La Nina, called a ‘triple dip’ La Nina which is a phenomenon lasting across three winter seasons in the northern hemisphere. This is only the third time since 1950 that a triple dip La Nina has been observed. This, in part, is why for the third year in a row, India is seeing surplus rain in September, a month that usually marks the retreat of the monsoon.

Changing monsoon patterns:

  • Since 2019, monsoon in India has returned surpluses, barring a slight dip last year. In 2020, India saw 9% more rain. The rainfall over the country as a whole, in 2021, was 1% less than normal. This year the monsoon is already in surplus by about 6% and a vigorous September is likely to see India post yet another year of surplus rain.
  • Three years of above normal rain in a block of four years is unprecedented in more than a century of IMD’s record keeping, data suggests.


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