It’s not just Shashi Tharoor: India made a joint bid along with Germany and Japan, Brazil tagging along, for a permanent UN security council seat on Sep. 22. Sometimes history has a way of sneaking up on you: The U.S. pushed the UN to offer India the same seat, with veto power, in 1955, but Nehru unbelievably gave it up in favor of China, which invaded India seven years later (via the Acorn).
“…India is not anxious to enter the Security Council at this stage even though as a great country she ought to be there. The first step to be taken is for China to take her rightful place, and then the question of India might be discussed separately.” –Jawaharlal Nehru
Ah, Nehru’s idea of realpolitik. India’s alignment with Axis powers is nothing new. During WWII, Indian nationalist Subhash Chandra Bose met with Hitler to get him to give up Indian POWs fighting for the British (thanks, Turbanhead). The plan was to convert them into an army fighting for Indian independence. The plan fell through, and Netaji eventually carried out a different plan with Japanese support:
the Indian Legion came to a rather sad end… the Germans would be unlikely to get anywhere near India. Second, after Bose left Germany in 1943, the Legion was left without an effective leader… Now they knew they weren’t going to be fighting for India’s freedom, and their morale and discipline disintegrated. Many deserted, some joined the French resistance, and the rest disappeared in the chaos of the German retreat.
Bose’s biggest frustration in Germany had to do with diplomatic recognition. He wanted Germany to officially recognize India as independent, and him as the leader of a government in exile. This the Germans refused to give him. The reasons lay partly in apathy, partly in the Master Race mentality, and partly in the peculiarities of Hitler’s vision of the post-war world.
Hitler was not entirely comfortable with the idea of helping Indians – whom he saw as racially inferior – to defeat the British. The British were Aryans, after all… He was perfectly willing to use Bose to make trouble for the British, but he had no long-term interest in India’s future, one way or another.
Prior to the independence movement, Indian soldiers fought for Britain in WWI, and there is a memorial in Hindi, Urdu and English in Brighton, England for these soldiers. In WWII, there was even a destroyer named the HMS Sikh, along with the HMS Gurkha. They should’ve made it an aircraft carrier — Sikhs have greater surface area up top