By Sudhanshu Tripathi*
The 17th Summit of Non Aligned countries of Third World – Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – spreading over the continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America began at Magarita island in Venezuela from September 13-18, 2016. Though India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not attend the summit, it was instead the Vice President of the country, Hamid Ansari who led the Indian delegation.
NAM had begun its journey in 1961 during highly tense days of cold war between the two antagonistic blocs led by the USA and the then USSR, respectively. A global movement of just 25 countries, NAM today consists of 120 countries and that proves its continuing popularity and relevance ever since it was institutionalized.
NAM, which is based on the doctrine of Non-Alignment – the brain-child of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru – continues to have enough grounds to sustain. Its continued adherence to and upholding of ideals including, “freedom of action” and “independence of judgment” and also “sovereign equality of nation-states”, are all in consonance with the principles of international order.
All these principles were very popular among the newly independent, de-colonized countries of the Third World. Harboring a desire to protect and preserve their new, hard won freedom and also to rebuild themselves as independent nations in the international community, NAM appeared to be an alternative to the controlling blocs into which the world was getting divided.
It was this desire that Nehru grasped immediately after the end of the Second World War and along with some other prominent leaders of the Third World, like Marshal Joseph Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, President Nasser Abdel Nasser of Egypt and President Sukarno of Indonesia proposed an alternative and independent course of action for newly independent Third World countries.
This dominant desire of the Third World countries got crystallized into the doctrine of “Non-Alignment” which was first elaborated by Nehru on September 7, 1946 in a radio speech. In fact, this desire to remain distant from group rivalries and bloc-politics was a very timely remedy to save the world from another world war. In this horrible scenario, the NAM under India’s founding leadership, while deriving its strength and sustenance from India’s ancient cultural ethos and deeply religious traditions advocating eternal moral values, made a clarion call for 3 Ds – namely decolonization, disarmament and development.
Once again, the world is passing through a disturbing phase which has been a result of terrorism and religious fundamentalism; economic deprivation and cultural conflicts among other things. These challenges in particular can be sincerely addressed if a collective global human endeavor based on a value-based and philosophical vision is initiated. This vision is truly provided by the doctrine of Non-Alignment which in standing for equality, justice, fraternity on equal footing, and global peace is paving the way for creating a new world order characterized by these value-based values.
This is why the Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari exhorted the movement with his inspiring words: “Our theme for the next three years – peace, sovereignty and solidarity for development – is in congruence with our founding principles”. He made India’s founding position of the NAM clear by emphasizing that peace and sovereignty are the essential prerequisites for development and cooperation along with ensuring the dignity and development of all humankind.
He also recalled the spirit inherent in the unforgettable words of Indian PM Indira Gandhi about the NAM – “the largest peace movement of the world”. He also stressed in the summit that NAM must stand as the vanguard of all substantial international debates on political, social, economic and strategic issues and must also suitably adapt itself to matching times so as to remain relevant and convincingly responsible towards its members, in particular, and the entire humanity upon the mother earth, in general.
Thus, though challenges are grave and threats unimaginable but there is enough scope for sincere efforts with honest intentions and also that one is not alone today as there is no dearth of right-thinking conscientious and god-fearing people.
*Dr. Sudhanshu Tripathi is Associate Professor of Political Science at M.D.P.G. College, Uttar Pradesh. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent on: [email protected]