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Mains Answer Writing

10-April-2024

Q1) By placing strategic evaluation of opportunities and threats at the forefront, India’s foreign policy has overpowered the limitations of non-alignment. Critically examine.

(250 Words/15 Marks)

ANSWER

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was established during the cold war at the 1961 Belgrade Conference as a group of states that did not want to formally align themselves with USA or USSR. The NAM countries sought to remain independent in their national policies. NAM’s main objectives were:

  1. Decolonisation of colonised nations.
  2. Preserve the independence of newly decolonised states from being subservient to geopolitical interests of cold war blocs.
  3. Economic growth and development of newly independent nations.

With time, NAM has seen its role decline in international diplomacy due to failure to play constructive role in contemporary challenges like Arab-Israel conflict, or issues like an inherent bias against the west and rise of unipolar world after collapse of Soviet Union.

 

India’s foreign policy has also developed traits that are not only in contrast but also overpower the limitations of non-alignment principles, such as:

  1. India’s foreign policy is motivated by realpolitik of advancing own interests than seeking nonalignment.

E.g., India’s membership of SCO is partly motivated to counter alignment of China and Pakistan against India.

  1. India’s strategic ties are growing stronger with the western bloc.

E.g., the increasing share of arms imports from USA, agreements like LEMOA or increasing trend of Japanese investments in India.

  1. India is pursuing multi-alignment of interest-based partnerships such as Supply Chain Resilience Initiative to seek realignment of global supply chains and Quadrilateral Security Dialogue to counter Chinese influence in Indo-pacific region.
  2. India is no longer tied to the dogmas of non-alignment.

E.g., de-hyphenation of Israel- Palestine relations.

  1. The challenges and geo-political realities of the contemporary times have necessitated an approach of complex interdependence to adapt to world of geo-political flux.

E.g., conflict in one front (like land-border issues) do not necessarily exclude cooperation in another front (deep trade linkages).

 

However, the principles of non-alignment continue to guide India’s foreign policy in following ways:

  1. India’s pursuit of strategic autonomy reflects non-alignment as seen in the UN vote on the Ukraine crisis. India refused to toe the American or Russian line.
  2. India continues to coordinate with distinct and divergent set of countries.

E.g., as part of BRICS and SCO as well as Quad.

  1. Formation of new financial institutions such as Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and New Development Bank (NDB) can be seen as a pursuit to build non-western institutions.
  2. India signed a civil nuclear agreement with US and built Kudankulam Nuclear power project with Russia. India’s ties with Israel, UAE and Iran also reflect how non-alignment continues to maximize strategic gains for India.
  3. India’s leadership of the global south reflects the old vision of leading the newly independent nations under NAM.

E.g., India-South Africa joint proposal on TRIPS waiver.

 

India is following a flexible foreign policy in an increasingly multipolar world, but the goal of strategic autonomy continues to take inspiration from the principles of non-alignment. India must manage the pull-and-push factors of multi-alignment to pursue an independent foreign policy aligned to own interests.

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