Indian hot seat in Arab Spring New York, Aug. 3: Between external affairs minister S.M. Krishna and his permanent representative at the United Nations headquarters, Hardeep Singh Puri, the world body is being shorn of its holidays. August is normally marked by a sense of somnolence at the UN, when its civil servants and envoys from member countries take their holidays and little other than emergency work is transacted on Turtle Bay, the part of Manhattan which houses the UN and its key permanent missions. But not this year. Puri, who assumed the presidency of the UN Security Council on Monday, will not have any opportunity to let the grass grow under his feet. Within hours of the Indian presidency, Puri received six requests in writing to call an emergency meeting of the Security Council to discuss the raging violence in Syria between protesters demanding political reform and the government of President Bashar al Assad. By 5pm, the Council was in consultations and Britain reintroduced its two-month-old resolution on Syria with technical updates. But with India in the chair, none of the big powers want to take any chances and will want their ambassadors to forgo their August holidays, stay put in New York and not leave the business of running the Security Council to junior diplomats as they always did at this time in previous years. That is because India is not one of the cabal that is used to â€œmanagingâ€ the Council as a relic of the post-World War II geopolitical equations. Nor is India anyoneâ€™s poodle in the Council, unlike some others who are prepared to play that role. Puri made it plain yesterday at the customary media briefing given by permanent representatives to outline the Councilâ€™s monthly work at the start of their rotating chairmanships that India is â€œdeeply worried about the situation in Libyaâ€. That, for instance, is not something the Councilâ€™s cabal wants to hear. That sort of talk is also new in this chamber because India is assuming the presidency of the Council after nearly two decades. The western powers which pushed Libya into its present predicament misled the Council in March into believing that popular discontent against Muammar Gaddafi was so pervasive that all that was needed to topple him was a little push from the UN. The Indian permanent representative revealed yesterday that he had warned the Council when it was passing resolutions to act on Libya that a â€œcalibratedâ€ approach, instead of headlong involvement, was called for. Otherwise, options would be exhausted creating a stalemate of the present kind. Yesterday, he warned against repeating the mistakes of March on Libya in the case of Syria. Some members are calling for fortnightly reporting to the Council by secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on the situation in that country, for example. But Puri asked what the Council would do if the Syrians simply failed to comply with the prescriptions by Ban and approved by the UN. He, therefore, called for caution in dealing with Damascus. Even as Puri advised caution in the Council, the external affairs minister used Indiaâ€™s influence in Damascus to propose that Assadâ€™s government should â€œexercise restraint, abjure violence and expedite the implementation of political reforms taking into account the aspirations of the people of Syriaâ€. At the same time, Krishna â€œexpressed concern on the recent escalation of violenceâ€. His meeting on Monday with Syriaâ€™s vice-foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, has brought India into reckoning in the crisis triggered by popular uprisings in the Arab world. Mekdad was on a tour of India, Brazil and South Africa, prompting questions at the UN yesterday if the three countries, the IBSA group, was trying to evolve a common position in the Council. Puri chose his words carefully and said the present composition of the Council was unique and â€œinterestingâ€. It has five permanent members, five aspiring permanent members and the rest, â€œsovereign and independent statesâ€. In a sign that India was following its independent line on Syria, Puri pointed out that more than 350 Syrian security personnel had been killed and the countryâ€™s infrastructure had been damaged, pointing to violence on both sides. It is clear that India would make every effort during its presidency to restore some of the lost authority of the Council. Decades ago, the Council took â€œdecisionsâ€ instead of merely passing resolutions. The Indian permanent representative pledged yesterday to â€œfind an innovative way of doing itâ€ all over again because the UN Charter does not call for â€œresolutionsâ€. It calls for â€œdecisionsâ€ by the Council. As in the case of Syria, India has been active on Libya at a bilateral level. Libyaâ€™s foreign minister Abdel Aati al Obeidi was in New Delhi 10 days ago when the minister of state for external affairs, E. Ahamed, called for â€œimmediate cessation of all hostilities and support(ed) peaceful resolution of the Libyan crisis through dialogueâ€. Ahamed also â€œexpressed support for the African Union-High Level Ad-hoc Committee initiatives and the African Union Road Map for the peaceful and consensual resolution of the conflictâ€, according to South Block. Puri pointed out yesterday that Security Council resolution 1973 called for cessation of hostilities, but the Council now finds itself in a situation where â€œit cannot act on its own resolutionâ€. A highlight of the Indian presidency will be a thematic debate on August 26 on UN Peacekeeping Operations, a subject in which India has an important stake.