Indian Foreign Policy: From NAM to NAM 2.0
Foreign policies reflect the orientation of a nation towards the rest of the world. The goals, means, attitudes and approaches are the decisive ingredient for the formulation of the foreign policy. After India achieved the status of a sovereign state in 1947, it really needed the policy like NAM to ensure its sovereignty in the world anarchy. To take middle path for overall progress and to save the country from the cobweb of bloc politics, undoubtedly, the policy of NAM had proved its credibility already. After the conclusion of cold war, some feels that there is no relevancy left in the idea of NAM. These doubts which was really relevant has been addressed with the logic that the problems of inequality, apartheid, issues of economic order, etc., are very much evident and that’s why the relevancy of NAM is still intact. Some scholars have made endeavours in the direction where using historical credibility of NAM, India can refurbish its foreign policy under the guise of NAM 2.0 with relevant value addition.
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. Foreign policy dictates how a country will act with respect to other countries politically, socially, economically, and militarily, and to a somewhat lesser extent, how it behaves towards non-state actors. Foreign policy can also be known as international relations policy or simply diplomacy.
Many thinkers in the field put the genesis of modern foreign policy and statesmanship with Cardinal Richelieu, a statesman in early 17th century France. Richelieu became famous for consolidating French power, making France among the first of the Great Powers, and feuding with the Hapsburg dynasty, which ruled in both Austria and Spain. He ordered all the castles of the lesser nobility and feudal lords to be razed, causing the royalty of France to become more powerful than ever before.
“Foreign policies are the strategies used by governments to guide their actions in the international arena (Goldstein 2008:123).
Hence, foreign policies of any country are the bunch of certain behaviours and responses in the international setting for the sake of ‘national-interest’ and survival of the state. The foreign policies of countries are marked more by continuity than change. The reasons for this are fairly obvious. Since most the tangible determinates of foreign policy remain constant over a long period of time, the scope for policy-alteration tends to be limited. Actually, Decision maker are hesitant about contemplating change in external relations, because they know the consequence could be serious. As President John F. Kennedy put it, “Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us”. Decision – makers are extremely cautious in initiating a sudden change in foreign policy-but rare changes occur from time to time.
K.J. Holsit has explained the phenomenon of change by distinguishing between foreign policy reorientation and restricting. Restructuring denotes something substantial such as’ an alteration of the total pattern of external actions and transactions of a state. A far-reaching allegation of this kind would most probably be brought about by an individual decision-makers or a group of key decision-makers based on their perceptions of the operational environment. However, India was not one among them.
Countries, Like India, Policy-continuity is desired because of the vested interests of ‘ established groups and institutions’ that prefer the ‘Status Quo’ the ‘challenging groups’ want to disrupt. And the external environment imposes its own set of constraints (traditional friendships or alliances, Ideological compatibility, economic partnerships, treaty obligations, regimes and rules), favouring continuity. However, this does not mean that preference for the ‘Status quo’ always outweighs considerations for change, even when foreign policy failures occur. Fixed beliefs, societal and external constraints notwithstanding, there are occasions when policy change becomes inevitable. Painful though it may be to alter directions, the option to do otherwise also becomes untenable in the face of maladaptive policies that come to be perceived as inappropriate and counterproductive. Recognizing the need for change does not automatically lead to a neat transformation of policies. A period of ambiguity rather than clarity is more likely to occur during the transitional stage when some policy continuity and shades of discontinuity are discernible, followed by a stable period.
Policy-alterations is not easy job when it comes to countries such as India, among other things, have to build consensus across a wide political spectrum and operate under severe resource constraints; So often changes are dressed in the language of continuity so as to prevent the anti-change lobby from derailing them.
India’s Independent Foreign Policy and Non-Aligned Movement
With the disintegration of the European colonial system after the Second World War, many things appeared on the international stage that changed the nature, style and strategies of international relations. Among those things, the emergence of new nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America brought about such a drastic change that the nature of international relations underwent a significant change in terms of its contents and style. Non-alignment is an Indo-Anglican word. With the only exception of the Random House Dictionary, no other dictionary recognises non words. So, as a concept, Non-alignment owes its origin to India. It was during our national independence movement, says Subimal Dutt in his memoirs ‘With Nehru in the Foreign Office', that "the principle of non-alignment was accepted by the Congress at Haripura session (1939). Even our culture and philosophy preaches what we refer to today as non-alignment, And this old Indian philosophy was asserted by Gandhi when he advocated that "India should be friendly to all, enemy to none."
It was long before India became free that Jawaharlal Nehru, when he was in charge of External Affairs in the Interim Government, had declared that independent India would keep away from power blocs. In 1946, he declared again that India would follow an independent foreign policy. He said, "We purpose as far as possible, to keep away from the power politics of groups, aligned against one another, which have led in the past two World Wars and which may again lead to disaster on an even wider scale." It was however, after the attainment of independence by India with unique historical experiences, geographical situation, and the perception of its national interest by enlightened leadership that non-alignment as a policy came to occupy an important position in international relations.
Burmese Prime Minister took the same stand when he declared in 1948 that "of all of the three great powers, U.K. the U.S.A., the U.S.S.R., Burma should be in friendly relations with all the three." It was again in 1950 that it declared that Burma does not desire "alignment with a particular power bloc antagonistic to other opposing bloc." Indonesia also reciprocated the same feeling after gaining independence.
Certain people trace the origin of non-alignment in cold-wars. It was at the Algiers Conference of the Non-aligned held in 1973 that it was discussed whether non-alignment is a product of cold-war or anti- colonial struggle. Fidel Castro of Cuba advocated that non-alignment is essentially an anti-colonial and anti-imperialist move. He questioned its ant bloc tendency while pleading that socialism is a natural ally of non-alignment. To illustrate his contention, he pointed that Soviet Russia has given persistent support to the goals and objectives of non- alignment. Yugoslavia, on the other hand, advocated a policy of equidistance from the power blocs. Equidistance implies its origin in cold- war. According to him, the major object of non-alignment is to preserve peace between the major powers. P.N Haskar says, "As far as India was concerned, non-alignment did not originate in Belgrade. It did not even originate in the Conference of certain number of Afro- Asian States held in Bandung in April, 1955.” Its roots lay deep in the very struggle for our freedom against British Imperialism and in the ethos and world view which Gandhi and Nehru imparted to that struggle giving to the most down-trodden Indian a sense of national identity, transcending the narrow confines of our social, religious and regime structures.
Inception of NAM: An Obvious Need to be Non-aligned
After the Second World War ended, two major superpowers arose in the world-USA and former USSR. Their mutual rivalry resulted in the formation of two hostile military blocs. Consequently an atmosphere of tension, distrust, and fear developed between 1945 and 1991 known as the ‘cold war’. As many former imperialist colonies were attaining independence, both sides tried to draw these new independent nations into their respective blocs. The ones joining the blocs were given economic and military aid and were expected to provide military and political support in turn, if a conflict arose. India did not wish to ally itself with either party because it was aware of the high price of military involvement and also that the new found freedom would become meaningless. Therefore, it tried to initiate a movement for world peace independently. Our leaders also felt that peace simply did not mean the absence of war. It also meant healthy cooperation amongst nations for the benefit of all. This policy, which was supported by many newly independent nations, came to be defined as the Non-aligned Movement. It meant an impartial approach towards world issues without being influenced by either bloc.
Non-Alignment does not mean being neutral or not involved in foreign affairs. It means remaining apart from military and political groups while taking an active part in promoting world peace and understanding amongst nations. It also means taking an independent stand on international matters. As discussed, non-alignment has its political, economic and social roots in the anti-colonial struggles of the era of post-World War II. It is a movement aimed at bringing in a new international order which is just. In this new order, the States should not be discriminated against because of their history, their social origin and size. The new nations joined this movement with different backgrounds, traditions and perceptions of themselves and their interests.
Each had a strong sense of national identity along with a common passion for an international order based on equality. It means to be friendly with all but only on a footing of equality and reciprocity and not be hooked to military alliance. Non-alignment means efforts to retain independence of thought, judgment and action under conditions of cold-war which generated military alliance and agreements of all sorts. Its purpose is to enlarge the areas of peace and co-operation. So, the essence of non-alignment lies in the freedom and independence of a country to judge each issue as it arises on its own merits, as it affects the national interests, of the country concerned and the interest of peace in the world but not on the basis of a predetermined attitude because of alignment with one great power or another. This movement became an important forum for those countries that did not want to support either bloc, but wished to work for the cause of peace and cooperation amongst nations.
Most of the new nations sought to realise this object through a movement which has come to be known as non-alignment. The whole story of non-alignment from Belgrade Conference (1961) to the latest, Harare Conference (1986) confirms the resolve of the new nations in reshaping the international order. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a Movement of 118 members representing the interests and priorities of developing countries. The Movement has its origin in the Asia-Africa Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955. The meeting was convened upon the invitation of the Prime Ministers of Burma, Ceylon, India, Indonesia and Pakistan and brought together leaders of 29 states, mostly former colonies, from the two continents of Africa and Asia, to discuss common concerns and to develop joint policies in international relations. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister or India, President Sukarno of Indonesia and President Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt led the Conference and later the Movement. At the meeting, Third World leaders shared their similar problems of resisting the pressures of the major powers, maintaining their independence and opposing colonialism and neo-colonialism, especially western domination.
Non-Aligned Movement: Meaning and Nature
Most of the western scholars take non-alignment as a negative concept because of the existence of the word. In this respect, they consider it as something comparable to neutrality, because it is primarily a response to the cold-war, and only a part of a product of rising nationalism. Afro-Asian nationalism is a function of bipolarity. Let us, however, discuss its true nature.
(i) Non-alignment is not to do with Neutrality
The concept of non-alignment is altogether different from the concept of neutrality. Neutrality is an attitude of non-participation or refusal to take sides on any issue irrespective of its merits. Alignment is an attitude of openly declaring in advance that the country will be on the side of another country aligned with it irrespective of the merits of the case. Non-alignment, on the other hand, does not decant in advance. A non-aligned country will judge each case as arises on its merits as it sees it and not as others see it. It is a concept of liberty and freedom at State level. Neutrality is a concept relevant only in times of war.
Neutrality means to keep aloof from war. Non-alignment, on the other hand, is a concept relevant both in peace and war. Non-alignment has thus little to do with neutrality or partiality. Neutrality imposes certain limitations and confers some rights. A neutral country has to prove in practice its neutrality in war. Non-alignment, on the other hand, believes in furthering one's own interest in the light of the prevailing circumstances according to one's own independent judgment, both in peace and war. Non-alignment means freedom from obligations and commitments. Non-alignment does not debar alliance with a country to advance national interests. Even Nehru declared that, "We are free to join an alliance." Speaking before the U.S. Congress in 1949, Nehru said, "India cannot and shall not be neutral where freedom is threatened or justice denied. To be neutral would be a denial of all that we stand for." The conclusions of the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation and the treaty of Friendship between India and Bangladesh do not detract India from the path of freedom of choice to adjudge her own interests.
Secondly, neutrality is different from non-alignment in the sense that neutral countries acquired this status through or as a result of the provisions contained in either their respective municipal laws, or by international treaties and agreements. This means the commitment of those countries to neutrality continues irrespective of governmental changes in those countries. The status of Switzerland as a neutral country stands even though the Government changes. But in case of non-alignment, the commitment of a country may change with change in Government. We find that India under the Janata Government opted for what they termed 'genuine non-alignment' which stressed policy of equidistance.
(ii) Non-alignment doesn’t qualify as an Ideology
So, non-alignment is not an ideology or a dogma. It is not a fixed or static philosophy. It is dynamic and adjusts itself to reality and reconciles between the interests of one's own country and that of other countries of the world. Non-alignment does not favour intervention but non- aligned States sometimes do interfere in the internal affairs of others as India did with respect to Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim. The aid given by India to Burma during the Civil War in 1949 is nothing short of interference in the internal affairs of Burma. The opposition of India to the acceptance of arms assistance by Pakistan from U.S.A. is also an instance to illustrate India's interference into the internal affairs of Pakistan.
(iii) Non-alignment is a Tool
Non-alignment is a means, a method through which peace and progress not only in a particular country but throughout the world is sought to be achieved. It is not a negative approach. It is definitely positive. In areas where India's vital interests are involved, especially in neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, India cannot afford to sit idle. India cannot watch merely as a spectator. In case where distant countries are involved, a non-aligned country must give moral and political support.
NAM: Basic Values
As a concept and movement, non-alignment upholds certain values- while opposing certain other values. Let us discuss them in detail.
(i) No Association with Military Alliances
Non-alignment stands- for dissociation from military alliances that came into existence as a result of rivalry between the super-powers. Military alliances attempt to create spheres of influence, promote arms race and thus increase tension in the world. It was on account of the membership of military alliances such as SEATO and CENTO that India opposed that entry of Pakistan into non-aligned movement at the time of the Colombo Conference held in 1976. It is now after having given up membership of military pacts that Pakistan could be admitted as a member at the Havana Conference held in 1979. Rather, the alliances of which Pakistan was a member have disintegrated. This has proved the truth of the contention that non- alignment is gaining ground against military alliances.
(ii) Attainment of National Interest
In spite of the fact that non-alignment aims at ushering in a just and peaceful international order, it is not blind to the fact that the existence of a nation depends upon seeking its own national interest. It is in this context that Nehru stressed that your relations with a particular country can be more cordial and friendly.
(iii) Amalgamation of National Interest with Internationalism:
Promotion of national interest keeping in view the achievement of peace in the world means that non-alignment is a synthesis of nationalism and internationalism. The ideals of the leaders of the high priests of non- alignment were shaped by the traditions of their ancient civilisation as also the Western liberal education in which they were brought up. The Indian leaders were in particular influenced by the moralist traditions of Buddha, Ashoka and Mahatma Gandhi. It is the Gandhian concept of non-violence at the national level that was extended by Nehru to the international plane through the police of peaceful co-existence and non- involvement with military rivalry of big powers. Just as non-violence was based on courage and conviction and the best and most peaceful way of achieving independence so was non-alignment born out of conviction and sheer necessity of survival of the newly independent countries.
(iv) A Serious Concern for World Peace
Non-alignment is concerned with the maintenance of peace in the world. This is but natural in a world where nuclear holocaust can destroy the whole of the world within no time. Moreover, the non-aligned countries are against the use of force in settling international disputes. They are of the view that war instead of solving problems, tends to aggravate them. Their concern for peace so much over-shadows other things that at times they do not bother for their own national interest. Peace is considered necessary for the eradication of poverty and squalor from the world.
(v) Looking for Economic Support
All the new nations that joined non-aligned movement were under-developed. Their primary job was to develop their countries at the earliest possible. Development could be possible only through economic and technological assistance from the industrialised and developed countries. This assistance was sought from countries of both the blocs. But this assistance was given with certain conditions and had therefore, politico-economic implications. Moreover, the moral and psychological effect of this end was also not in the interest of recipient country. This made certain countries like India to receive aid in sectors which are critical for creating national know-how and infrastructure for future development in a way that the need for future assistance would end. In addition, efforts have been made by the non-aligned countries to evolve self-reliance. It is sought to be achieved through pooling of resources and reducing dependence on the developed countries. India is taking a leading position in creating self-reliance and self-confidence among the non-aligned countries. In spite of the fact that India is a poor country, its food position is satisfactory, and its foreign exchange reserves are enough and it is without exaggeration one of the most advanced countries in the field of science, technology and industry. She is rather helping countries of South, South East and West Asia in many ways.
(vi) Sovereignty of Judgment on International issues
The root characteristic feature of the non-aligned is the independence of judgment which the non-aligned countries enjoy on international issues. They judge every issue on its own merit without any dictation from any other country. This has been asserted by many leaders of the non-aligned countries. Nehru declared that non-alignment is "a policy of acting according to our best judgment.”
(vii) Democratic Approach to International Relations
Non- aligned countries believe in a democratic approach to international relations by all the countries of the world. Vice-President Nixon and Secretary of State Dulles used almost abusive language for the concept of non-alignment in 1956. Nehru urged upon them neither to suppress discussion nor give up tolerate in discussing external relations of the new nations. Nehru said, "I submit for consideration that Mr. Nixon and Mr. Dulles are saying something that is opposed to the democratic way of life. The very basis of democracy is tolerance for differing points of view."
(viii) Resistance to Colonialism and Racialism:
Non-aligned countries are opposed to racialism and colonialism in any form. It was to condemn Dutch action on Indonesia and plead for the freedom of Indonesia that Nehru called a conference in New Delhi in 1954. It was at the Bandung Conference held in 1955 where the representatives from Asia and Africa condemned racialism and colonialism. Sukarno and Nehru were in particular concerned about the possibility that anti-colonial struggle would become institutionalised. Concern for the freedom of Zimbabve (Rhodesia) was expressed deeply by the non-aligned countries particularly India. Non-alignment is also opposed to racialism as practiced in South Africa.
(ix) Opposition to Power Politics:
Morgenthau and Schwarzen berger regard international relations as a struggle for power. Power implies a particular man's control over the minds and actions of other men. Non- alignment rejects at least in theory, this game of power politics. Instead, it believes in influence politics. Influence politics differs from power politics in the sense that influence believes in persuasion while power lies in compelling other by the use of force to do what he would not have done otherwise.
(x) Establishment of New International Economic Order:
In spite of the fact that the new nations have obtained freedom, they are still dominated by the highly developed countries in the economic sphere. They are tied in the economic system that believes in exploitation of the poor and underdeveloped countries. In spite of the fact that these new nations have made developmental plans, they have not been able to make a little progress. The produce of the poor, underdeveloped, countries is bought by the affluent nations at a very low rate, while the finished goods prepared from that very stuff imported from the underdeveloped countries is exported to them at very high prices. This leads to deficit in balance of payments. The aid given by the developed countries to the underdeveloped nations is eaten back by the former to meet balance of payments gap. The non-aligned countries plead for the replacement of this old system by a New International Economic System.
Concern for the new economic system was expressed for the first time at the Conference held at Algiers in 1970. Consequently, many of the new nations providing raw-materials decided to come together and act in unison to increase the prices of their commodities. It was this strategy at Algiers that gave birth to the demand for a New International Economic Order. This strategy which was later used with great effect by the OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) provided a major threat for world capitalist powers.
The radical departure in the realm of economics gave the non-aligned movement a new structural meaning in world politics. They became in effect powerful bargaining groups within the context of international economic relations. The bargaining power gave a new meaning to their political demands, especially racialism and national liberation.
Changing Concept of Non-alignment
The criterion of membership of non-aligned movement was laid down at the first Belgrade Conference held in 1961. It is:
- The country should have followed an independent policy.
- The country concerned should have supported the movement for national independence.
- The country concerned should not be a member of the inter-national military alliances concluded in the context of Super-power conflicts.
- If the country concerned is a member of the regional defence pact, this pact should not be deliberately concluded in the context of superpower conflicts.
- If the country concerned has allowed military bases a foreign power, these bases should not have been allowed in the context of superpower conflicts.
A Brief Review of India’s Post-Cold war foreign Policy
India’s foreign policy redirection in the 1990s went through a phase of partial change following the 1991 general election that led to the formation of another general election minority government (22 June 1991-16 May 1996) Under P.V. Narasimha Rao of the Congress Party. As he took office, the Soviet Union was self-destructing and Indian Policy makers were unsure how they should react to this. Nevertheless under the Rao Government there were some noticeable changes in India’s outward orientation. First, India established diplomatic relations with Israel. Second, a thaw in Sino-Indian relations was inaugurated. Finally, a ‘Look East’ policy was initiated with a great deal of fanfare following the major about turn in India’s domestic economic policy. This was the most remarkable achievement of this government as it boldly inaugurated an era of economic reforms.
The BJP-led coalition government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee that followed Rao’s administration lasted just over 2 weeks (16 may 1996-1 June 1996) before giving way to another fragile coalition (1 June 1996-21 Apr 1997) under the Leadership of Deve Gowda. When I. K. Gujral, previously Minister for External Affairs under Gowda, came to power at the head of coalition (21 April 1997-19 March 1998), he kept up the momentum in some of the areas of interest identified by the Rao Government but let some others languish. His administration’s major foreign policy contribution was in initiating unilateral goodwill gestures towards India’s smaller regional neighbours under the famous Gujral Doctrine. This was a significant shift in orientation since it was the opposite of the India/ Indira Doctrine enunciated in the 1980s, which gave notice to the regional states that India would not brook any activity by outside powers in its neighbourhood that was considered detrimental to its interests. This was a virtual Monroe Doctrine even if India lacked sufficient muscle to enforce it.
India’s foreign policy redirection in the 1990s went through a phase of pronounced change in the final decade of the twentieth century during the 6 years (19 March 1998-22 May 2004) that the BJP Led. NDA Coalition government was in power under Vajpayee. His administration initiated fundamental alternations conventional views on coalition governments and policy changes.
Attack of Nine Eleven and India’s Response
“No part of the world was more affected by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 than south Asia. Within a few months, American forces were fighting in Afghanistan, the Taliban government was removed from power and US-Pakistan strategic ties were revived at least for the short run. 9/11 also contributed to an India-Pakistan crisis that lasted over six months. This threatened to except into a large-scale conventional or even nuclear war. Despite this, The US-India relationship was strengthened and one year later the US is more actively engaged than it has been in living memory in finding a way to resolve India-Pakistan differences over Kashmir and the other problems”.
Attack of nine-eleven on World Trade Tower indeed considered as global event. It impacted globally and by all means it has international features. Within an hour of the attacks on the WTC towers, India had expressed its willingness to cooperate with the US. Prime Minister Vajpayee shot off a letter to President Bush expressing India’s outrage at the heinous terrorist acts. India offered even more than sympathy. The government communicated to the American Mission in New Delhi that it would extend whatever support the US wanted including military bases, in its global war against terrorism. India soon went public with its offer of full operational military support to the US. The Indian offer seemed entirely out of character with its foreign policy. It was in sharp contrast to an India that built its international profile in the name of non-alignment, whose central principle was the refusal to get drawn into military entanglement with the major powers. Nor did it fit in with its long campaign against American military presence in its neighbourhood. The Indian offer of military bases and facilities to the United States on 11 September seemed of a piece with its earlier decision to support the Bush administration’s controversial initiative on national missile defence (NMD) announced on 1 May 2001.
Taking advantage of the active involvement of the international community in the war against terrorism, India also enhanced its diplomatic activities as an active player within the international community. Since September, 2001 important officials from US, UK, France, China and other countries have visited India. In view of the international focus on the war against terrorism, Indian officials also adopted a policy of active interaction by undertaking frequent visits and maintaining contacts through other channels. After the 9/11 events, Indian External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh held telephonic conversations with his Iranian counterpart and British commonwealth and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, for Keeping up India’s effort to assist in the building of broad spectrum coalition against terrorism.’ India’s National Security Advisor, Brajesh Mishra visited US, Germany and Russia for cooperation to counter the threat of terrorism and religious extremism.
In Oct. 2001, Mr. Jaswant Singh visited the US and held meetings with the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell: Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and National Security Advisor. Condoleezza Rice. In Nov, 2001, Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee visited Russia, US and UK. Vajpayee and Putin signed the Moscow Declaration on Terrorism, for strengthening the bilateral strategic partnership between the two countries. During Vajpayee’s visit to the US, both sides revived the Bilateral Economic Dialogue Forum. In UK, Vajpayee and Blair addressed a joint conference to emphasize that the international coalition against terrorism must be strengthened to fight terrorism in all its forms. In an important development on Nov. 23, 2001, during the second India-EU Summit, a declaration against international terrorism was signed. During Jaswant Singh’s visit to Japan in Dec. 2001 an eleven page Joint Declaration was issued.
During the visit of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, In Jan 2002, India and Britain signed a Joint Declaration condemning all those who supported and financed terrorism. In March 2002, Jaswant Singh Visited China and held discussions on the issue of countering terrorism. Thus post-September 11, 2001 US Campaign for the Global war against terrorism has provided India an opportunity to persuade it to drop its (US’) double standards on the terrorist threat that India faced.
After 9/11: Manifestations of India’s crossing the Rubicon
As, C. Raja Mohan argues in his book, ‘Crossing the Rubicon’,
“The decision to support missile defence and the American war on terrorism was neither impulsive nor individually rooted, it was the product of incremental changes in Indian Foreign Policy through the last decade and a half of the twentieth century” (Raja Mohan 2004:45).
By the turn of the millennium the quantitative adjustments in Indian diplomacies after the cold war ended up in a qualitative transformation. The changes in India’s foreign policy certainly accelerated during the late 1990s under the Bhartiya Janta Party led government, which conducted the nuclear tests in May 1998. Yet much as the nuclear test was emblematic of the new Indian Foreign Policy. Since the mid-1980s the foundations had been laid by different governments that included all political stripes of the Indian establishment.
Actually, the mounting US diplomatic manoeuvres aimed at the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which India perceived in terms of forgetting it by keeping the ‘nuclear apartheid’ intact; and the subsequent pressures emanating over the signing of the CTBT led Indian not only to keep clear of these regimes but also to realize that unless it soon exercised the nuclear option, it may have to permanently accept a non- nuclear status. Apart from global pressure, the Indian Government faced external threat perceptions, particularly from china and to a lesser extent, from Pakistan, which was resolutely pursuing its Nuclear and Advanced Missile Programme with considerable assistance from the former. India’s own need for a deterrent therefore assumed a greater significance.
Despite its 1992 promise to abide by the Missile Technology control Regime and its accession to the NPT, China reportedly continued to supply missile and nuclear technology to Pakistan. India could not remain passive and unconcerned about these developments. The Indian Defence Minister also had agreed that China remained the principal foreign threat to India’s security because of its build-up in Tibet and growing naval presence in the Bay of Bengal. This statement too; was a remarkable change in Indian Foreign Policy since it boldly articulated the government’s threat perceptions instead of skirting round the issue. The real politik factors influencing the decision to test nuclear devices began with individual level factors such as the decision makers’ world views and perceptions. The decision was made by a very small group comprising key political leaders and the country’s nuclear establishment. On the eve of assuming charge in 1998, Vajpayee made it clear that his government would exercise all options including nuclear options’ to safeguard the country’s security and sovereignty.
This is truism that the end of the cold war put India’s attachment to the idea of non-alignment into an unforgiving political spotlight. Non-Alignment, for reasons right or wrong, has been widely seen as the singular feature of India’s foreign policy since Independence. The altered world forced India to examine of external relations during the 1990s. Reconfiguring relations with the major powers, riding the roller coaster relations with the United States and China and Salvaging the formerly dense ties with Russia were the key markers of Indian diplomacy during the 1990s.
India’s policy towards the smaller neighbours reached a dead end in the 1990s and had to be recast. Economic globalization opened up the prospect of regional economic integration, and deep-seated suspicions in both New Delhi and the neighbouring capitals kept the political tone of the subcontinent uncertain. Even as India struggled with defining a new approach towards its smaller neighbours, the regions abutting the subcontinent beckoned India to reassert its claim for a say in the affairs of the Indian Ocean and its littoral. The 1990s saw India making a determined effort to reconnect with its extended neighbourhood in South-East Asia, Afghanistan and Central Asia and the Middle East. India’s renewed engagement with the surrounding regions had to be within a new framework that emphasized economic relations and energy diplomacy rather than the traditional notion of Third World Solidarity.
The country has begun to move towards a new set of assumptions about the nature of its interaction with the world. First was the transition from the collective national consensus on building a socialist society to a consensus on building a modern capitalist one. Second transition is- from the post emphasis on politics to a new stress on economics in the making of foreign policy. A third transition in Indian Foreign Policy was the shift from Third Worldism to the promotion of its own self-interest. Rejecting the anti-western mode of thinking was the fourth important transition of India Foreign Policy. The fifth transition in Indian Foreign Policy in the 1990s was from idealism to pragmatism. Hence, India has moved from its past emphasis on the power of the argument to a new stress on the argument of power.
There is no intention to say that these developments are the current products of the event 9/11 in fact, it was the product of incremental changes in Indian Foreign Policy through the last decade and a half of the twentieth century. But the event of 9/11 gave impetus to all these developments. It accelerated the comprehensive shifts in Indian Foreign Policy. After 9/11, India has become more globally engaged. India has grasped the opportunity to have strategic partnership with world’s sole power US. In the current consequences of 9/11, India’s concerns towards terrorism have globally recognized. India has strengthened its relationships with its extended neighbourhood in South-East Asia, Afghanistan and Central Asia and the Middle East. The Relationship with Pakistan is also improved and various programmes are going on for the sake of peace and developments.
These shifts, theoretically speaking underwent a major reorientation rather restructuring, though this has not been easy. The tension between the imperative of the new and the resistance of the old ideas on how to conduct foreign policy is real and unlikely to end in the near future. The fear of the new and fondness for the old continue to be reflected in all aspects of Indian diplomacy, from engaging the United States to an optimal strategy towards the smallest of the neighbours. For the new foreign Policy of India is a work in progress. Equally important is the flux in world affairs after 9/11 which has left largely uncertain the direction of the international system in the coming decades.
Relevance of Non-Aligned Movement and Non-Alignment 2.0
The relevance of the NAM since the collapse of the Soviet Union has also been questioned. With some commentators speculating whether the organization has outlived its usefulness. In 2003 Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, the NAM countries warned that the movement’s future depended on its response to global challenges. He called on the NAM to take stronger resolution on issues of concern. In the present international scenario, the dominancy of USA and the other developed countries is gradually increasing. The American hegemony is viewed not only in the United Nation's meetings, but also in already intervention all over the world. Under these circumstances, NAM has to play an important role in revitalizing UNO so that it may remain a major entity in solving the international problems.
Almost all the countries are facing the threat of terrorism today. NAM has been endeavouring for peace and complete nuclear disarmament ever since its inception. It always asserts that disarmament is closely related with the very survival of humanity. The rise of religious fanaticism, ethnic nationalism and internal conflicts are other crucial problems facing the world today. NAM can play an effective role in drawing the attention of the world towards the present problems. NAM’s conference has laid stress on many such aspects, but got little success. NAM has to work more vigorously to achieve its goal. NAM is facing many challenges in the present scenario. NAM, an International movement, may have some shortcomings but as a foreign policy it has a great value and will always enjoy great importance.
To say that NAM has lost its relevance is a wrong conclusion. It is argued, that NAM couldn't get any positive success so far, still the voice raised by NAM on so many issues forced the Super Powers to vindicate their actions. The US or other developed countries were bound to reply the points raised by NAM. In a nutshell it can so be concluded that NAM has not lost its relevance. It has stood test of adverse circumstances. It has served an important purpose of protecting and preserving the interests of third world countries.
In the words of R. Venkataraman (Former President of India):
"NAM is not an ‘ism’. It cannot become outdated any more than common sense can become outdated. No national, no group of nations can disregard the NAM. It must today raise its voice against the injustices and inequities of the current decade and the emerging 21 st century."
With fall of USSR as super power the world has become unipolar revolving around US. During the cold war era NAM had helped in easing the tension due to increase in its membership, giving moral check on superpower overwhelming strength in UN assembly.
NAM is committed to the universal problem of peace and freedom, equality and fraternity. As long as it supports the cause of socio-economic uplift of the developing country it will remain relevant. As long as there is exploitation, injustice, war, destruction, hunger and poverty, NAM will not lose its importance. New International economic order needs its strengthening so that it can fight for the cause of the poor. To consider NAM as a by-product of bipolar world is in itself a wrong premise. To eliminate the US hegemony, NAM can act as a safety valve to the developing nation.
The recent release of a report, ‘Non Alignment 2.0: A Foreign and Strategic Policy for India in the Twenty First Century’, ¬has reignited debates surrounding the resurrection of the Non-Alignment Movement. Indian foreign policy is often criticised as ad hoc, lacking consistent strategic and ideological underpinnings. With the intention to counter such allegations, Non Alignment 2.0 seeks to provide an ideological alternative for the future of Indian international relations that centres itself on the fundamental notion of strategic autonomy. In the words of Sunil Khilnani, one of the eight esteemed contributors,
‘Non alignment 2.0 is an attempt to identify basic principles that may guide Indian foreign and strategic policy in the decades to come and beyond’.
It identifies an essential link between India’s domestic policy and foreign policy and suggests an outside-in approach to understanding the way in which foreign policy will forge and influence domestic politics, emphasising that domestic development will hinge on the management of international opportunities. The report aims to fill the strategic deficit in Indian foreign policy and seeks to facilitate a unanimous ‘strategic’ consensus to achieve India’s developmental goals. According to the report, a future policy of India must be centred on three “core objectives”:
“To ensure that India did not define its national interest or approach to world politics in terms of ideologies and goals that had been set elsewhere; that India retained maximum strategic autonomy to pursue its development goals; and that India worked to build national power as the foundation for creating a just and equitable world order.”
The document rightly stresses that the core objectives non-alignment were to ensure that India did not define its national interests or approach to world politics in terms of ideologies and goals that had been set elsewhere, that India retained maximum strategic autonomy to pursue its own development goals and that India worked to build national power as the foundation for creating a more just and equitable global order. The document further says that our objective should be to enhance India’s strategic space and capacity for independent policy-making which will create maximum options for our own internal development. This should be taken note of seriously by our foreign policy-making experts and officials. The US has been publicly urging India to leave the NAM. In this backdrop it is welcome that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is attended the Tehran NAM Summit, which gave us an opportunity to reassert our position in the Movement and imparted new guidelines and a fresh vision as well as renewed momentum to the NAM while reinventing our strategic partnership with Iran.
Hence, we see Non-Aligned Movement is reinventing itself to be so relevant in present times and also in the challenges of future world and it also has the strong spirit and necessary elements to guide the current foreign policy of India as well as it had guided in the past.