T.P. Sreenivasan, former permanent representative of India at the U.N., thinks that U.S. President Barak Obama's offer of support to help India become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council is just hype.

“It is a cheque that cannot be cashed on and Mr. Obama knows it well,” Mr. Sreenivasan said in a talk he gave at Maharaja's College here on Thursday. If at all India becomes a permanent member, he said, it will take 10 to 15 years.

He said the offer was insignificant because, in the first place, the U.S., one of the five permanent members of the council, could not do much about it. What really mattered was the support of the members of the 192-nation General Assembly, which the U.S. could not influence. India would need the support of at least 120 nations to get elected to the council, which was rather hard. “What are these nations going to gain from India becoming a permanent member?” he wondered. Just because the U.S. backed India would not make these nations vote for India.

He said Mr. Obama had nothing to lose by pleasing India by the offer. He made the “concession” because India was an emerging power and the U.S. needed India's goodwill to serve its own interests. The U.S. wanted all the business deals it had signed with India to perk up its job situation, it wanted to enlist India's cooperation in its confrontation with Iran and it also wanted India to stand by American foreign policy. And, Mr. Sreenivasan noted, Mr. Obama has only said that he is looking forward to India becoming a permanent member, which indicates that it will occur in the distant future.

Mr. Sreenivasan, however, said the offer was significant to the extent that the U.S. President had said it. India would become a member of the Security Council for two years from next year. It took nearly 19 years for India to become a member again after the last stint.

He noted that the Obama visit had changed the architecture of India's relations with the U.S. and raised India's profile in international relations. All these years, U.S. presidents had come to India only to announce financial aid and other assistance, but Mr. Obama had come to take India's assistance (in creating jobs in the U.S. by the several business and defence deals.)