Published : Thursday, 25 August, 2016 10:00 AM
NAM: India’s Shift and It’s Implications
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Read General Awareness Topic : NAM: India’s Shift and It’s Implications
The Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) was founded in 1961 and the first Indian Prime Minister (PM) Jawaharlal Nehru was one of its chief architects along with the Egyptian, Indonesian and Sri Lankan leaders. Essentially, it was a coalition of developing countries who did not want to get embroiled into the push and pulls of cold war.
The period of 1950s to 1990 is known as cold war era when the United States (US) and Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) form the two poles of power in the world and at many times came on the verge of a war. During the entire cold war period, the US and USSR also tried to bring other countries into their groups by virtue of all possible means including the grants, incentives as well as threats. All these factors lead to the birth of NAM as the members countries resolved not to align to either of the centres of power and to have friendly relations with all.
During the cold war era, the principles of NAM were also the principles of Indian foreign policy. NAM had played a fundamental role in ensuring the world peace and averting a third world war during that period; however, after the disintegration of USSR in 1991, the cold war era and a constant threat of a full scale war ended. The basic reason behind the formation of NAM disappeared once for all and therefore, the relevance of NAM was also started to be questioned.
The next NAM Summit is scheduled in September 17-19, 2016 in Venezuela and the current media reports suggest that the Indian PM Narendra Modi may skip this event. If NarendraModi skips the event, it would be the first absence by an Indian PM in NAM summit since 1979 and would be the clear indications of Indian policy shift vis-à-vis NAM.
However, this is not the first sign of India’s shift from NAM. P.V. Narsimha Rao was the first PM who renewed the defence and restructured foreign policy in the new geopolitical scenario in divergence from NAM. Down the line, the then PM Manmohan Singh also started renewed security cooperation with the US in 2005 which was also going against the essence of NAM if not against its overt principles.Thus the current PM is not bringing any tectonic shift in Indian policy towards NAM but doing what its predecessors were doing with a renewed vigour.
The future implications of India’s shift from NAM depends upon the answer of two questions – first if NAM successful in its objectives and second what India had gained from NAM.
On the idealistic plane, NAM was a great idea but on practical front, even its members were not following the ideal of peaceful co-existence. Iran-Iraq conflict, India-Pakistan tensions were the glaring examples of limitations of NAM. Though NAM had its role and significance in establishing world peace during cold war era but it could not control even its conflicting member countries. The members of NAM were also having military agreements with the then global powers i.e.the US and USSR. Thus the success of NAM in fulfilling its objectives was only a partial one. For the second question, during the tough times in cold war era, the Soviet bloc was much more helpful for India than the 120 nation strong NAM.
Thus if we quantify the implications of India’s shift from NAM, they are likely to be none. However, it doesn’t means that NAM should be left to disappear in the oblivion if current geopolitical scenario questions its relevancy. The US in the past has said that NAM has lost its relevancy as cold war has ended but this is also true for NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) which was a military alliance formed in cold war era to check the USSR advances.
The following principles of NAM will always remain relevant for the country’ individual foreign policies and ensuring a peaceful world order -
• Mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty
• Mutual non-aggression
• Mutual non-interference in domestic affairs
• Equality and mutual benefit
• Peaceful co-existence
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