Was India offered UNSC seat?
Yes, and not only once but twice.
But what happened, why are we not a permanent member then?
Someone would say, Nehru rejected and offered it to China. But this is not totally true, matter was actually much more complicated.
India was called 3rd world and was the founding member of Non Alignment Movement. Neither USA not USSR had any personal hate towards India. And therefore both the countries offered a permanent seat to India in UNSC. But not at the same time and that was the biggest problem.
The 1950 American offer
The Cold War at its peak, it is believed that America offered Nehru the possibility of India getting a seat in the UN Security Council. The UN Security Council began with four members: USA, Russia, France and Great Britain. These countries were the allied forces that had won World War II. India too had a rightful place in the council, since it was providing treasure and more than two million men in the war front. Certainly, more than China had done.
But Russia was keen on another communist country coming on board as a member and it is believed that it would have vetoed India’s membership and would have wanted China.
First, Nehru firmly believed that the task of developing India could only be achieved in a peaceful environment. The UN was a critical forum for fostering a cooperative attitude among nations and thus preventing the world from drifting into a war again. This is exactly where the League of Nations had failed. Nehru wanted the UN to succeed. India’s admission into the UNSC would demand a revision of the UN charter and thus could destabilise the multilateral institution, which was still in its infancy.
Nehru is said to have told parliament that a firm offer was not made. Perhaps he did not want to alienate Russia but since he believed in non-alignment this should not really have been an issue.
The 1955 USSR offer
Soviet offered to propose India as the sixth permanent member of the Security Council. But this offer was rejected by Nehru. The reasons were obvious. Nehru showed sound judgment in rejecting it and in refusing to walk into the trap. It would have earned India the lasting hostility of China, contempt of the nations of the Third World and of the United States too, conceited, albeit, with perfect discretion; and eventually, a resounding snub from the Soviet Union. India would not, indeed could not, have got the seat; only the odium for immaturity and opportunism.
One can definitely see why Nehru was sceptical of the UNSC seat offers in the 1950s. However, it is difficult to sympathise with his reasons today. There has been no reform of the Security Council ever since, and therefore, India’s case has never been considered separately and seriously. India-China relations remain adversarial and Beijing has used its presence in the UNSC to harm Indian interests. And the UN is by no means a body that can claim, with a straight face, to serve the cause of global peace. It has repeatedly been used and abused by great powers for their own self-interests. As far as India is concerned, the wait for a more sincere offer than the ones in the 1950s hasn’t borne fruit in more than six decades now.
Conditions were never in favour of India. When USA supported, USSR might have opposed and when USSR supported, USA might have opposed. And India did not want to get trapped in this Rattrap. So it did not.