Underlining that India has been more of a "rule-taker" than a "rule maker" at the UN, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Friday said the country needs to fix its domestic issues, including that of the economy, and have "moral authority" if it wants to be a rules contributor to the world.
The former Union minister said he has always argued that India's international credibility is often a reflection of its domestic postures and the success at home is the best guarantee that "we will be respected and effective abroad".
"Now we have unfortunately been going through a few very bad years domestically in terms of crumbling social cohesion, the eruption and uncontrollable spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the border troubles with China, the economic collapse after demonetisation, unemployment figures worst recorded in the history in these years, everything is wrong," he said at a session of the 7th national forum of the Public Affairs Forum of India.
Tharoor said India must use its capacity to demand constructive changes in global governance.
"India has to be what it was trying to be before the last five years or so which was a sort of an example to the developing world -- the world's first development power," the former UN under-secretary-general said.
Tharoor hoped that India would contribute to initiatives to catalyse a new consensus for the world.
"But before it does so, we really have to fix our internal situation first so that we can face the world with greater credibility and with renewed admiration that we used to enjoy till very recently," he said.
Asked about reforms at the UN and whether they were linked with monetary contributions by member states, Tharoor said, "I don't think checkbook alone is important."
India is a state that has contributed generously and was among the leading donors to UN's democracy fund, initiatives on ideas, decolonisation, racism, apartheid, and also contributed in-kind through peacekeeping, Tharoor said.
"India has nothing to be ashamed of, we have very much been at the forefront of international efforts at the UN to do a lot of good work and to contribute in terms of leadership. Yet, we have been more of a 'rule-taker' than a 'rule maker' and these rules have been made by the big powerful countries and we haven't been counted amongst them," he said.
"Which is why we need both economic growth and prosperity on the one hand, which has gone down the tubes in the last few years, and we also need moral authority if we want to be a rule contributor," Tharoor said.
That moral authority comes from the successful management of our own challenges including the great challenges of religious, ethnic, and linguistic diversity in India which the country had been managing very well till recently, he said
It also involves managing some of the contradictions in the neighbourhood and being magnanimous to neighbours rather than being hostile to them, Tharoor said, claiming that India had slipped on that count recently.
Tharoor said it was important for India to come across to the rest of the world as an example of a thriving and harmonious society.
"If we can get our act together and lead our country in the direction that we have traditionally aspired to -- that has been hailed as a success in the past, we will once again be in a position to set an example whether on the Security Council or off it," he said.
If India does this and also prospers economically, people from other countries will state that they cannot imagine a Security Council without India "rather than us demanding it as we are doing it now", Tharoor said.