Non-Aligned Movement and South Asia
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NAM and India
India’s leadership post-WWII
How did the world realign itself after the Second World War?
The end of the War gave birth to a new conflict. British dominance was over and the world was poised to see the rise of two new superpowers and their mutual conflict caused by the different economic systems they followed.To increase its influence and push capitalism, America announced the Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program) in 1948. Although it was offered participation, the Soviet Union rejected the plan benefits as the credits were given on the condition of economic cooperation meaning the beneficiary countries had to make economic policies in line with capitalism. The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance COMECON was formed in 1949 by the communist bloc.The next step was the formation of military blocs. Citing the 1948 communist coup in Czechoslovakia as the immediate trigger, Western Europe along with the US called for a military alliance to curb communism and NATO was formed in April 1949. The communist bloc formed a similar military organisation Warsaw Pact in 1954.
Was joining either of these blocs the only option left for developing countries like India?
Along with these two blocs, another movement was getting strong and was spearheaded by V K Krishna Menon, India's representative in the UN. In the early 1950s, Menon pioneered a new foreign policy of maintaining distance from both blocs, which later came to be known as the association of Non-Aligned countries. The first conference that further affirmed the non-alignment of the newly independent nations was the first large scale Afro Asian conference held in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955 and attended by 29 countries including India. Six years after Bandung, another conference of heads of state was organized at the initiative of Josip Broz Tito in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Among others, it was attended by Jawaharlal Nehru, Sukarno of Indonesia, Gamel Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Ghana's president Nkrumah.These leaders pledged to remain neutral in the Cold War.
What are the major goals of the NonAligned Movement?
Jawaharlal Neh ru's Panchsheel principles or the five restraints to be used as a guide for the SinoIndian relationship became the basis of the goals of NonAligned Movement. These principles asked for mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty , mutual non-aggression, non-interference in domestic affairs, equality and mutual benefits and peaceful co-existence.Consisting of over 100 countries with different ideolo gies, NAM supported independence movements in various countries like Rhodesia and anti-aparthied activities in South Africa apart from advocating disarmament. It also asks for restructuring of the UN Security Council, which is heavily skewed towards industrialized countries.
What is its relevance in today's world?
Often played wn as a toothless down as a toothless relic of the Cold War era by the West, many experts believe NAM is still relevant in a world dominated by the US and its allies.
It can be the voice of the world's poorest nations against economic or military interference of the West. The post-Cold War period and the emergence of a unipolar world after the collapse of the Soviet Union has seen many incidents of US-initiated economic sanctions or military action leading to humanitar ian crises. Hence, some argue that NAM could become an international forum to raise third world concerns.
The Times of India, August 17, 2016
NAM was founded in 1961 in Belgrade and was intended to be a grouping of countries not aligned with the two major powers -the US and the erstwhile USSR -whose rivalry divided the world into two combating blocs. The group lost much of its relevance after the disintegration of the USSR and the unravel ling of the communist bloc.
The last time an Indian PM skipped NAM, which counts Jawaharlal Nehru as its founding father, was in 1979 when Charan Singh was the caretaker PM. In fact, the 1979 summit in Havana was the only occasion in the movement's 55 year history that an Indian PM did not show up.
The NDA government under A B Vajpayee.Vajpayee, attended both NAM summits --Durban in 1998 and Kuala Lumpur in 2003 -during his tenure as PM.
PMs who did not participate
Vice-President Venkaiah Nadu will represent India at the 18th Non- Aligned Movement summit on October 25-26 in Azerbaijan's Baku.
This is the second time in a row that PM Narendra Modi will skip the summit, marking India’s transformation from a non-aligned country to one which is supposedly multi-aligned. Modi became effectively the first Indian PM to skip the meeting of heads of states and governments of NAM nations in 2016 when he gave the 17th summit, in Venezuela that year, the go-by.
While this may be yet another sign of the winds of change sweeping India’s foreign policy, it’s signifi-cant that India’s neighbours like Nepal and Bangladesh have again reposed trust in NAM with their PMs, K P Oli and Sheikh Hasina, respectively, confirming their participation. The Maldives’ foreign minister Abdulla Shahid is also attending.
At the last summit, too, India was represented by its Vice-President, Hamid Ansari.
The theme for the Baku summit is ‘Upholding the Bandung Principles to ensure concerted and adequate response to the challenges of contemporary world’.
While NAM, of which India was one of the founding nations, in the past helped deal with challenges like apartheid and colonialism, it is now increasingly seen as having outlived its usefulness. Even as it acknowledges that NAM allows member-states to pursue an independent foreign policy, the Modi government clearly believes NAM will be of little use in furthering India’s case on important issues like the menace of terrorism and UNSC reforms.
The only other Indian PM to have skipped a NAM summit was Charan Singh in 1979 but, unlike Modi, he was no more than a caretaker PM. However, as S Jaishankar said while serving as foreign secretary in 2016, blocs and alliances are less relevant today and the world is moving towards a “loosely arranged order”.
The summit, where Iran President Hassan Rouhani will also be present, will likely see Naidu again forcefully underlining India’s concerns over terrorism. India wants NAM to actually go ahead and form a working group on terror, instead of just paying lip service to the idea. As then junior foreign minister M J Akbar had said in 2016, India wants the NAM summit to take a position on terrorism which is as unambiguous as it once was on apartheid and colonialism.