India has a new “moment in the sun,” and should use its growing influence on the world stage to press the US and Russia to resume negotiations to drastically reduce their nuclear arsenals, former Canadian Senator Douglas Roche told a seminar at Jindal Global University, Delhi.
Speaking (Oct. 1) on the eve of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, Roche said Gandhi’s peacemaking ideas live on in the new world in which India has sent a satellite to Mars and seeks a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
“The rock-star welcome India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, received in New York and Washington shows once again India’s stature in the world. Sending a satellite to Mars was a fabulous achievement. Now India must use that stature to form a global partnership to strengthen the international structures for peace,” he said. “That would give meaning to obtaining a permanent seat on the Security Council."
On a speaking tour of several Indian universities to discuss the themes of his new book, Peacemakers, Roche also met with officials of the Ministry of External Affairs and presented a new Briefing Paper of the Middle Powers Initiative, “A Beacon of Hope.” The paper calls for commencement of a comprehensive diplomatic process to achieve a global law against nuclear weapons. Roche is the founding chairman of MPI.
Although India became a nuclear weapons state, it nonetheless has a distinguished history in working to advance non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament, and has voted at the UN to start a negotiation process leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons, Roche said. “With world attention now on India, now is the time for India to exert global leadership to rid the world of weapons that can destroy civilization.”
He said India should convene a meeting of the nuclear weapons states to put a joint plan before the 2018 UN high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament. The first step would be enter into a strategic dialogue with the US and Russia to encourage both states to reduce their nuclear stocks down to the level of other states.
“India is a natural bridge between the US and Russia,” he said.