India’s Leadership in the WHO: What To (and What Not To) Expect

In the highly politicized context of COVID-19 and persistent calls for reform of current international organizations, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, India’s minister of health and family welfare, took charge over the WHO’s Executive Board as the chairman on May 22. Along with the chairmanship, India also occupies two other influential positions in the WHO: The external auditor, which oversees WHO’s spending (2020-2023), and the chief scientist post, created in 2019 in response to requests of institutional reforms of the global public health body.

The expanding influence of India in the WHO and other multilateral international organizations not only reflects the implementation of the Modi government’s more ambitious foreign policy approach, but also makes India a potential partner for Western countries seeking to counter China’s growing influence on major global intergovernmental organizations (IGOs).

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