(a) Pt. Nehru was the chief architect of India’s foreign policy principles and one of the founder members of NAM. Pt. Nehru defined the policy of non-alignment in the following words:
“When we say, our policy is one of non-alignment with military blocks. It is not a negative policy, it is a positive one, a definite one and I hope a dynamic one, but in so far as the military blocks to day and the cold war are concerned, we do not align ourselves with either block.”
Pt. Nehru wanted to keep off military alliances because of the following reasons:
1) It was felt that India’s alignment with either the US or the USSR bloc would aggravate international tension rather than promoting international peace. There was a realization that India could play a positive role in reducing international tension, promoting peace and serving as a bridge between the two camps.
2) NAM suited India’s present need of keeping her independent identity and sovereignty intact.
3) Like any sovereign country, India had just become independent and wanted to retain and exercise independence of judgment, i.e. India wanted freedom to decide on every issue on its merit.
4) India had launched economic development plans and, therefore, needed foreign assistance. Thus, it was politically desirable not to depend upon aid from one bloc only and profitable to be able to get it by maintaining friendly relations with both the blocs.
5) NAM was in tune with India’s traditional philosophy of peace and tolerance and that India could play a pioneer role in promoting it.
6) Geo-political reasons also determined India’s reasons for remaining non-aligned. India is surrounded by the two leading communist powers— China’s international boundary touching its border and the Soviet Union’s border being some 20 miles from it. Likewise, India also shares boundary with Pakistan— an ally of the US bloc. A military alliance with either bloc was ruled out by this factor as the impact of any war between the two blocs would have impacted India.
(b) In the wake of Crisis in East Pakistan, India in order to counter the close proximity of the US and Pakistan and to counter the US-Pakistan-China axis, signed the 20-year Treaty of Peace and Friendship with the Soviet Union in August 1971. Though many critics argued that India has shed its non-aligned stand, however, it cannot be agreed upon due to the following reasons:
a. As India just signed a treaty of friendship, it did not align itself with military blocs.
b. Signing treaties and entering into agreements was in consonance with India’s foreign policy principles.
c. Geo political compulsions made it imperative for India to be realistic enough and come closer to the Soviet Union.
d. India was guided by its own national security interests. The proximity of Pakistan with the US compelled India to come closer to the Soviet Union.
e. It helped in maintaining balance of power in the region.
(c) It is believed that NAM was a specific product of a specific situation. It was a reaction to the Cold war politics and to military blocs. A lot has been discussed about the relevance of NAM in the context of absence of military blocs.
It is believed that NAM has lost its essence and effectiveness but the following points will enable us to understand that its values and ideas continue to remain relevant and that NAM also served as a platform for newly independent countries to voice their concerns and engage greater cooperation.
a) It is argued that the NAM countries have worked together, speaking for the concerns of the developing world arguing for fairer economic share at the international forums.
b) The Cold War today has been replaced by more contemporary and compelling issues like terrorism, threat of nuclear warfare, human rights violation, environmental problems or developmental issues that threaten world peace. Presently, the NAM countries can and are working together to deal with more pressing problems of the world.
c) The leaders of the developing countries have shifted their emphasis from political to economic content of the Movement. A quest for New International Economic Order today remains the cementing force of the NAM. The 12th and the 13th NAM summit pledged to step up South-South cooperation and North-South cooperation.
d) NAM has now taken seriously, the question of reshaping the United Nations. The 10th NAM summit had established a high-level working group to suggest concrete proposals ‘for the restructuring, democratization & enhancing the effectiveness of the United Nations’. The NAM summits have also stressed that the UN should gear up for positive transformation of the international society.
e) At the 14th NAM summit, the then Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh identified that in an increasingly inter-dependent world, it is a challenge for the NAM to promote balanced and equitable management of this inter-dependence of nations.
f) At the Tehran summit in 2012, the NAM members largely focussed in contributing their efforts towards bringing about nuclear disarmament and strengthening peace efforts in regions torn by ethnic conflict.
g) The presence of 120 counties in NAM today is a testimony to the fact that the NAM is not a defunct body and can play a very important role in reshaping the world.