Non-alignment, anyone?

Though the ideologues of non-alignment in India and the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may not realise it, both entertain same misconceptions about non-alignment. Both appear to think that it is an ideology with a well defined value system. Those who are persuaded that non-alignment is an ideology subscribed to mostly by non-democratic states, as Rice appears to be, assert that it has become irrelevant, and question why a democracy like India still continues to subscribe to it. On the other side, the ideologues of non-alignment point out that the non-aligned are united in their espousal of an equitable trade regime, reform of the UN and a just and fair world order.

But non-alignment is far from being an ideology. How could Singapore, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Cuba and Sri Lanka be united under one value system? Do the non-aligned agree on WTO issues, the future expansion of Security Council, and a just and fair world order which implies democracy and secularism. Obviously not. In reality non-alignment was a strategy devised by Jawaharlal Nehru after Churchill's Fulton speech when he was anticipating the division of the international system into a bi-polar world. He talked of not joining any power bloc aligned against each other. He did this while enunciating India's foreign policy before India became independent in his broadcast on September 6,1946.

At that time there were very few independent developing countries. That was also the time when Cominform (the International Communist Organisation under the leadership of the Soviet Union) had proclaimed the Zhdanov thesis which called for Communist uprisings in the newly decolonising countries, including India. Nehru wanted to keep links with the West and also not alienate the Soviet Union. He kept India in the Commonwealth and attempted to cultivate friendly relations with the Soviet Union.

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