CBI Director Ranjit Sinha may have thrown his hat in the ring for the coveted Interpol Secretary General’s post, but no Indian has held the position since the agency’s inception a century ago. When the global policing agency headquartered in Lyon, France, invited applications for the top post, Sinha, one of the senior-most Indian Police Service officers, was quick to nominate himself with the home ministry too clearing his candidature.
Apart from Interpol, no Indian has come within striking distance to head organisations like United Nations (UN) and its subsidiaries, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Asian Development Bank and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since their inception.
Moreover, no Indian can become president of the World Bank, which is headed by an American, or hold the IMF managing director’s post, who must be from Europe. The first reason is that there is a tacit understanding between US and Europe to head these organisations. Secondly, voting power of India is very less.
The road to Lyon is not going to be easy for Sinha who has had an eventful stint as CBI Director. The Interpol Secretary General requires shortlisted candidates to appear before 13 executive committee members out of a total 190 member countries. The committee has to reach a consensus on a candidate and, if fails to do so, the voting route must be taken.
Though it may appear far-fetched, for an Indian to head the Interpol would be a rare achievement. While heading such agencies is an almost impossible scenario for Indians, many technocrats and managers have scaled top positions in multinational companies across the world. They have also become deans, top scientists and presidents of best universities in the world.
The last time an Indian contested for the post of UN Secretary General was Shashi Tharoor in 2006, who had served in the organisation for almost three decades in different capacities. He lost to the US supported candidate from South Korea, Ban Ki-moon.
In recent times, only few Indians have served at decision-making positions in global bodies. Vijay Nambiar was Under Secretary-General from 2007-2012 in the UN. Harsha Vardhana Singh was Deputy Director-General till last year of Geneva-based WTO. Justice Dalveer Bhandari is the lone Indian judge of the Hague-based organisation, the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Kaushik Basu, the chief economist, Sanjay Pradhan and Lakshmi Sunder are the only vice presidents in Washington-based World Bank. The last Indian to become chief economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was Raghuram Rajan from 2003-2006.
Since independence in 1947, Indians have had a bright start in many international bodies. Vijaylakshmi Pandit presided over eight sessions of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1953. It was an achievement for a young nation at that point of time. Before her, Ramaswami Mudaliar headed Geneva-based UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in its first, second and fourth sessions from 1946 to 1947. Another top Indian diplomat, Chinmaya Gharekhan headed ECOSOC in 1990.
From 1956 to 1967, Binay Ranjan Sen headed Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Benegal Rau, a top jurist and diplomat of the 1950s, became chief judge of the ICJ in 1952. Another jurist Nagendra Singh became chief judge and president of the ICJ in the 80s. After his demise, RS Pathak served as a judge till 1991.
For Sinha, becoming Interpol’s Secretary General is going to be an uphill task, but considering India’s growing capacities and say in the world’s political and economic spheres it is only natural that Indians look forward to having more of their countrymen heading top international posts.