Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)

Relevancy

  • G.S. Paper 1 and 2
  • Objective questions: NAM- origin, Objectives, composition and members.
  • Subjective questions: It’s relevance today for India and the world, need for reorganisation.

What is NAM?

  • The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a group of states which are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.
  • As of 2012, the movement has 120 members.
  • The organization was founded in Belgrade in 1961, and was largely conceived by India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru; Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno; Egypt’s second president, Gamal Abdel Nasser; Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah; and Yugoslavia’s President, Josip Broz Tito.

Key features of the NAM policy

  • The policy of non-alignment was based on the five principles of Panchasheel, which directed international conduct. These principles which were envisaged and formulated in 1954, were mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty; non interference in each other’s military and internal affairs; mutual non aggression; equality and mutual benefit and finally, peaceful coexistence and economic cooperation
  • The policy of non-alignment meant the acceptance of the inevitability of warbut on the conviction that it could be avoided.
  • The non-aligned movement emerged from India’s initiative for formulating an independent foreign policy.
  • This independent foreign policy was based on a solid moral and sound political foundation.
  • The non-alignment was a strategy designed to maximise newly independent India’s gainsfrom the world system. Nonalignment did not mean to choose to become a hermit kingdom.

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.

Objectives

  • NAM has sought to “create an independent path in world politics that would not result in member States becoming pawns in the struggles between the major powers.”
  • It identifies the right of independent judgment, the struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism, and the use of moderation in relations with all big powers as the three basic elements that have influenced its approach.
  • At present, an additional goal is facilitating a restructuring of the international economic order.

India’s Position

  • India being a founder and largest member in NAM was an active participant in NAM meetings till 1970s but India’s inclination towards erstwhile USSR created confusions in smaller members. It led to the weakening of NAM and small nations drifted towards either US or USSR.
  • Further disintegration of USSR led the unipolar world order dominated by US. India’s New Economic Policy and inclination towards US raised questions over India’s seriousness over non alignment.
  • Prime Minister of India skipped the 17th Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit held in Venezuela in 2016, it was only second such instance when Head of a state didn’t participate in NAM conference.
  • Moreover, NAM continued losing relevance for India in a unipolar world, especially after the founding members failed to support India during crisis. For instance, during 1962 War with China, Ghana and Indonesia, adopted explicitly pro-China positions. During 1965 and 1971 wars, Indonesia and Egypt took an anti India stance and supported Pakistan.
  • India in particular, but also most other NAM countries, have integrated themselves to varying degrees within the liberal economic order and have benefited from it.
  • India is a member of the G20 and has declared itself as a nuclear weapons power and has for all practical purposes abandoned the call for global nuclear disarmament.
  • India has also engaged itself with new and old global powers. India joining the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a coalition seen by many as a counterforce to China’s rise in the Indo-Pacific and Shanghai cooperation organisation led by China shown India’s balancing approach in new world order.
  • India is striving hard for a multipolar world order and asserting itself as one of the player. Multi polar world order is very much closed to NAM principles.

How has NAM benefited India?

  • NAM played an important role during the Cold War years in furthering many of the causes that India advocated: Decolonisation, end to apartheid, global nuclear disarmament, ushering in of new international economic and information orders.
  • NAM enabled India and many newly born countries in 1950’s and 1960’s their sovereignty and alleviated the fears of neo-colonialism.
  • Soft-Power Leadership:NAM made India a leader for many countries who didn’t want to ally with the then global powers USA or USSR. India became a soft-power leader which still holds good till date.
  • Balanced friendship:India’s non-alignment gave her the opportunity to get the best of both the global superpowers of the time in terms of aid, military support etc. This was in line with her objectives of national development.