Non Aligned Movement and India: UPSC Notes

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Non-Aligned Movement was initiated in the background of Cold War. It was led by India and like-minded countries which didn’t want to be part of any war, having recovered from colonial oppression recently.

After the World War II, a Cold War began between the Communist Block led by the USSR and the Capitalist Block led by the USA. India and other former colonised countries had recently come out of the colonialism and seen the suffering from World War. They wanted to stay neutral and build cordial relations with all the nations, while developing peacefully.

Beginning of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)

NAM has its roots in the wave of decolonization that began during and after World War II. The newly independent countries wanted peaceful development and an arms length distance from neocolonial powers. It was first ideated in the Bandung Conference in 1955. It was formally established in 1961 at Belgrade, Serbia in the Belgrade Conference. The 5 personalities who gave leadership to the movement were:

  • Jawaharlal Nehru, PM of India
  • Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt
  • Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia
  • Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana
  • Sukarno of Indonesia

Principles of NAM

The Non-Aligned Movement was largely based on the Panchsheel Principles of Jawaharlal Nehru. NAM adopted the following principles:

  1. Respect of human rights and international laws.
  2. Respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
  3. Equal sovereignty of all nations and equality among all races.
  4. Mutual non-intervention or non-interference into the internal affairs of another country.
  5. Refraining from aggression or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
  6. Peaceful solutions to all international conflicts.
  7. Promotion of mutual interest and mutual cooperation.
  8. Respect for justice and of international obligations.

Objectives of NAM

Following were the objectives of the non-aligned movement:

  1. To ensure the right to self determination for all nations.
  2. National Independence and freedom from colonialism.
  3. Non-adherence with any military alliance (NATO and Warsaw Pact)
  4. End of apartheid.
  5. Reforms of UNSC and democratisation of international organisations.
  6. To promote unity, solidarity and cooperation between developing countries based on shared values and consensus.
  7. To promote peaceful called distance between nations regardless of their political, social or economic status.
  8. Formulate strategies to counter the threats to international peace and aggression.

Why India joined NAM?

India joined the non-aligned movement for the following reasons:

  1. Sovereignty
    India wanted to protect its sovereignty. Aligning aligning with any of the military blocks would have potentially compromised sobering decision making.
  2. Self- Reliance
    Alignment with the military blocks came with the fallacy of dependence on one or the other international powers. USA came with its economic aid package called the Marshall plan while USSR came up with the Molotov Plan. India decided to not depend on any such package and choose the path of self-reliance.
  3. Focus on Economic Development
    In the Cold War era, there was always a threat of Third World War breaking out and the world came close to it on a couple of occasions (e.g. The Cuban Missile Crisis). India didn’t want to engage in a war when it was facing multiple economic challenges.
  4. Independent Role in World Affairs
    By aligning with one or the other military blocks, many nations had given up their independence to determine their foreign policy. India rather wanted an independent role in the World Affairs.
  5. Univeral Brotherhood
    Through NAM, India propagated its principle of universal brotherhood or Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.

Was India Truly Non-Aligned?

This is a criticism of India’s Non-Alignement Policy. While India proposed non-alignement, JL Nehru’s own inclination towards socialism took India closer to USSR and farther from the USA. One particular event can be mentioned here:
India was critical of any aggression and disrespect to sovereignty of any country. When USSR invaded Hungary in 1956 after the Communist lost the general elections, there was a reolution to be voted upon in the UN Assembly for removal of Warsaw Pact forces (led by USSR) from Hungary. However, India abstained from voting.

Why NAM Lost its Relevance

  • After the end of the Cold War Era when USSR disintegrated in late 1980s, the bipolar world became unipolar and now multipolar. In a multipolar world, non-alignment was less meaningful.
  • War with China in 1962 made India take anti-China stance.
  • Regional alliances started cropping up based on mutual interests and ‘enemy’s enemy is friend’ principle. For example, to counter the China-Pak axis, India came closer to Japan and now USA.
  • Globalisation blurred the international boundaries.
  • Emergence of new global threats like Terrorism and Climate change.

Why NAM still has Relevance

  • It is a grouping of developing economies with shared interests. Thus there are avenues of South-South cooperation and rising as one voice in global fora.
  • NAM has shifted its focus to socio-economic causes, e.g. exploitation of resources of developing countries by developed countries, dumping of goods and waste by developed nations, etc.
  • Sustainable Development Goals and now Millennium Development Goals have major bearing on NAM countries and together they can achieve the targets through mutual cooperation.
  • Reformation of UN and UNSC to reflect current power structure and greater say for developing nations.
  • Advocacy of human rights and social, economic and climate justice.
  • Autonomy and sovereignty of nations will always be relevant.
  • Principles of mutual co-existence, multipolarity, non-aggression are still relevant.

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4 Responses

  1. Kalyan says:

    Sir can u give tips on answer writing

  2. Karthikeyan says:

    Better explanation than books sir . keep doing this service to improve us . Thank you for this notes sir.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hindi medium me sir please

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanku so much sir for providing the contents in hindi

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