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Non Aligned Movement (NAM)

According to Prof. T D Paul, McGill university. Non Aligned movement is an example of ‘soft balancing’ by weaker states towards great powers, engaged in intense rivalry and conflict. As these countries had little material ability to constrain superpower conflict and arms race, they adopted the method of soft balancing through normative power. Normative power denotes new set of values like peace, disarmament, development, autonomy of choice and to create the new world order.

Aims of Non Aligned Movement

Pandit Nehru never wanted that NAM gets converted into an organization or institution, he wanted to retain the dynamic nature of the movement. Hence NAM agenda has been evolving. In 50s and 60s, the agenda was anti-imperialism, anti-racialism along with the opposition to the block mentality and arms race. It was an attempt to give a platform to the developing countries to prioritize their concerns and to maintain principled positions on global issues.
NAM was successful in its agenda of anti-racialism and anti-colonialism during its early years.

NAM during 70s and 80s.

During 70s and 80s, the agenda of NAM was development. NAM countries proposed the demand for new international economic order.
New International Economic Order
It was proposed in context of neo-colonialism, the drain of wealth from peripheries to core.
Theoretical basis – dependency theory.
The agenda was to 1) Impose responsibilities on MNCs.  2) Better valuation of the goods exported by developing countries.  3) Pressurizing western countries to transfer fund and technology. 
Outcomes. No outcome. There was lack of solidarity among third world countries. Western countries were successful in creating geopolitical conflicts among third world countries. Further, the proposal was also utopian. It was not possible to get equal value to the raw materials and manufactured goods. It was an attempt to apply socialism in international trade. It was inspired by Oil diplomacy of OPEC countries but other countries didn’t have similar bargaining power. Oil producing countries never applied the pressure on behalf of other third world countries.

NAM between 80s and 90s.

Agenda – disarmament.
Outcome – No success.

During 90s.

NAM was in search of agenda. The end of cold war put question mark on the very reason of existence of NAM.
1] Some of the member countries proposed like Egypt proposed dissolution of NAM.
2] Yugoslavia, one of the founding member disintegrated and NAM countries played no role in handling the crisis.
3] NAM countries had no position on the issue of the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, both were NAM members.

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What should have been India’s approach?

Views of C Rajamohan

India should have agreed to disband the movement. It was the best time for the graceful exit for a platform which had no achievement in the past and no prospects of any achievement in future. It was the best time as NAM issue had taken the credit of ending the cold war. NAM countries should have declared the ‘mission accomplished’. However India decided the other way, the then Prime Minister Narsimha Rao held that 1) It is wrong to think that the main agenda of NAM was related to the superpower rivalry.  2) It was just a coincidence that NAM was born at the time of cold war.  3) NAM has a broader agenda, to address the concerns of third world countries.  4) He held that even when there is a single superpower, it does not mean that we have to align with the single superpower.

Views of T V Paul

NAM never got the credit which it deserves. There has been an intellectual biasness against NAM. Despite all blemishes, NAM acted as the limited soft-balancing mechanism. Some of the achievements of NAM can be listed as 1) De-legitimizing the threatening behaviour of superpowers.  2) NAM does enjoy the partial credit towards ending colonialism.  3) PTBT, Nuclear weapon free zones, the development of taboo against Nuclear Weapons has been because of sustained pressure by NAM countries.
NAM has used ‘naming and shaming’ tools against great powers. The intellectual biasness against NAM, a coalition of weaker states is as natural and expected as there is a biasness against the subaltern class movements among upper classes and upper castes in hierarchical societies.

Present relevance of NAM

According to C Rajamohan, MOVEMENT IN COMA. NAM was always dysfunctional. NAM was irrelevant even before the end of cold war. After cold war, it has been put to coma because countries are not ready for its burial. They prefer to maintain the triennial rituals.

According to T V Paul, there is a space for resurrection of the old movement as a soft balancing mechanism against powerful states. As great powers are once again in the arms race, militarization of oceans, territorial expansions, there is a need for weaker countries to come together to de-legitimize imperial ventures. If third world countries will not act as cushioning forces, international order will spiral into hot war. Great powers need to be restrained, balanced. Soft balancing by smaller states has a key role to play because military conflicts will ultimately bring sufferings to them.  There is a need to revive ‘Bandug’ spirit. Who will revive the Bandung spirit? No hope from China and India because they are in the race of superstardom. Hence the onus is on smaller countries.

Normative politics thus have a value even when results do not come in short run.

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Relevance of NAM for India

NAM provided basis to build India’s soft power.
Even at present India needs third world solidarity.
Views of C Rajamohan – Movement in COMA
NAM was never relevant for India. NAM countries never supported India e.g. In 1962 war, countries like Indonesia, Ghana took pro-China approach. NAM countries gave Colombo proposals which were favourable to China.
In 1965 war, NAM countries like Indonesia not only supported Pakistan but even supplied weapons to Pakistan.
1971 war, NAM countries of West Asia, South Asia, South East Asia fiercly supported Pakistan. Sri Lanka provided re-fuelling to the Pakistani aircrafts.

Scholars who favour NAM

T P Srinivasan A new NAM for new norm.
NAM did benefitted India because it allowed India to promote our national interest as per our preferences, NAM has allowed India to manage through the situation of bipolarity.
NAM is relevant for India and India has stakes in the integrity of NAM. India has to seek partnership with the countries so that India is able to exercise its freedom of thought and action, away from the influence of great powers like US, Russia and China.

Whether NAM is relevant for India or not depends on the prism through which we look at NAM.
So far Modi govt. has not shown much inclination towards NAM, preferred to ignore NAM. However India is rebalancing itself.
Foreign minister visited 18th mid term ministerial council of NAM countries in April 2018 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
It would be mistake if we just see NAM as rejection of block politics.
NAM was a policy for autonomy, to establish peace and security, to contain superpower’s hegemonic ambitions.
Thus NAM needs to be reinvented. It is a biggest platform of developing countries outside United Nations. It provides a platform for natural leadership of India. However India needs to provide a concrete program of action, goals and leadership.

You can also refer to article by T V Paul in The Hindu.

Test Your Knowledge!

1] According to which of the following thinkers Non-Alignment Movement is an example of a ‘Soft Balancing” by weaker states?
a) T.D.Paul
b) Robert Kaplan
c) Alfred Mahan
d) Nicholas Spykman

Show Answer

Ans: a) T.D.Paul

2] Which of the following scholars is a critic of the Non-Alignment Movement?
a) T.P. Srinivasan
b) Martand Jha
c) C.Rajamohan
d) Jawaharlal Nehru

Show Answer

Ans: c) C.Rajamohan

3] “Consider the following statements regarding Non-Alignment Movement.
Pandit Nehru wanted NAM to get converted into an organization.
In the 1960s, the NAM’s agenda was anti-imperialism,anti-racialism and opposition to Block Mentality. “
a) 1only correct
b) 2 only correct
c) Both 1&2 corect
d) Both 1&2 incorrect

Show Answer

Ans: c) Both 1&2 correct

4] Who said that NAM is a movement in Coma?
a) T.P. Srinivasan
b) C.Rajamohan
c) Martand Jha
d) Nichola Spykman

Show Answer

Ans: b) C.Rajamohan

5] “Consider the following options.
Partial credit for ending colonialism
Development of the taboo against Nuclear Weapons.
Which of the above are achievements of NAM?”
a) 1only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1&2 corect
d) Both 1&2 incorrect

Show Answer

Ans: c) Both 1&2 correct

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Posted in PSIR 2A, PSIR 2B

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Ashutosh Pandey

3rd Question in 1st correction is there…anyway thanks a lot for free enriched notes.

Himanshu Kaul

A correction: Prof. T.V Paul not T.D Paul in first line.