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18th Non-Aligned Movement summit.

Context: Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu will represent India at the 18th Non-Aligned Movement summit.

Theme: ‘Upholding the Bandung Principles to ensure concerted and adequate response to the challenges of contemporary world’.

Some interesting facts about the latest NAM summit:

  1. Prime Minister Modi will skip the meet. 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. 
  2. In 2016, Modi became effectively the first Indian PM to skip the meeting of heads of states and governments of NAM nations (Held in Venezuela).
  3. 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.
  4. While this may be yet another sign of the winds of change sweeping India’s foreign policy, it’s significant that India’s neighbours like Nepal and Bangladesh have again reposed trust in NAM.

Why PM is skipping the meet?
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, India 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 evolution of NAM:

During 1950s, the world was emerging out of the long, dark period of colonialism.

  • Newly independent nations dreamed they could make their way in this new world without hewing to either of the big powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, eschewing the icy hostilities of the Cold War and bask in the warmth of Third World (as it was then known) cooperation.
  • The co-founders were India’s Jawaharlal Nehru, Indonesia’s Sukarno, Egypt’s Gemal Abdel Nasser, Yugoslavia’s Josep Broz Tito, and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah were all figures of international consequence, and their collective charisma attracted lesser lights from around the world.
  • The Asian-African Conference of 1955 held in Bandung was the catalyst for the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement.
  • The actual formation took place in Belgrade, where the Non-Aligned Movement was formally established by the leaders of 25 developing countries in 1961.

Why is it losing relevance today? – Criticisms:

  1. NAM today has grown into a forum where developing nations could blame all their problems on the big powers.
  2. It has become a platform for some of the world’s most despicable leaders to preen and posture.
  3. NAM’s reason to exist ended in 1989, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War. The world was left with a single superpower, the US, but quickly became multipolar, with China and India emerging as strong magnetic forces in their own right.

Way ahead:

There are now new kinds of alignments, more likely to be defined by economics and geography than by ideology. To be aligned is now a virtue, a sign of good leadership.

Countries, especially small ones, can and should aim for multiple alignments of their interests. There is now no country in the world that can claim to be non-aligned.

Current Affairs 2020

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