Mainstream, VOL LIV No 42 New Delhi October 8, 2016
India’s Clarion Call at the Margarita NAM Summit!
Sunday 9 October 2016
by Sudhanshu Tripathi
The Non-Aligned Movement, while holding fast the true spirit of the doctrine of non-alignment, must act as the vanguard of all principal international debates on political, strategic and socio-economic issues and must also suitably modernise itself to remain relevant in the world.
The 17th Summit of the Non-Aligned countries of the Third World, spreading over the continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America, was held at the Margarita island in Venezuela during September 13-18, 2016 with all enthusiasm and fervour, though India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, could not attend the summit and instead its Vice-President, Hamid Ansari, represented the country, leading the Indian delegation. As the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which began its journey in 1961, during highly tense days of the ongoing fierce Cold War between the two antagonistic blocs led by the USA and the then USSR, as a global movement of just 25 countries, now consists of 120 countries and that proves its continuing popularity and relevance since the origin of the movement after the Second World War.
Obviously the NAM, which is based upon the doctrine of Non-Alignment, known as the brain-child of India’s first Prime Minister, late Jawaharlal Nehru, today has enough grounds to stay as well as sustain due to the continued adherence and upholding of its core ideals, namely, “freedom of action” and “independence of judgment” and also “sovereign equality of nation-states”, established by the Peace Treaty of Westphalia of 1648. All these were very popular then among the newly independent countries of the Third World because they had long suffered the agony and trauma of centuries of inhuman and wicked course of colonialism and, therefore, they had the sole desire to protect and preserve their new hard won freedom and also to rebuild themselves as independent nations in the international community.
An Alternative Model of International Behaviour
It was this desire that the late Jawaharlal Nehru sincerely grasped immediately after the Second World War and some other prominent leaders of the Third World, like Marshal Joseph Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, President Garnal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and President Sukarno of Indonesia who proposed an alternative and independent course of action for the newly independent Third World countries in the world divided into two hostile ideological camps of capitalism and communism and each vying for increasing its membership by inviting newly independent countries into their respective folds in a bid to consolidate their strength for establishing their supremacy in the world. Thus this dominant desire of the Third World countries later crystallised into the doctrine of “Non-Alignment” and that was first elaborated by Pandit Nehru on September, 7, 1946 in his radio speech to the nation, even prior to the independence of India. In fact, this desire to remain independent of group rivalry and bloc-politics was a very timely remedy to save the world from another impending World War, which was to be a nuclear holocaust in all likelihood, marred by bitter Cold War tensions and several ongoing regional wars.
In this horrible scenario, the NAM under India’s founding leadership, while deriving its strength and sustenance from the country’s ancient cultural ethos and deeply religious traditions advocating eternal moral values, made a clarion call for three Ds, namely, Decolonisation, Disarmament and Develop-ment—all for the noble cause of establishing permanent peace in the world which had already been torn by two humanitarian disasters in the form of unfortunate World Wars.
Once again, the world is passing through, perhaps, the worst ever phase of terrorism and religious fundamentalism as well various kinds of heinous and macabre crimes of untold and unimaginable magnitude, besides other challenges like economic recession, environ-mental degradation and sustainable development, feudal-monarchic social set-up both at the national and international levels demanding democratisation of international relations and reforming the United Nations, violation of human rights, gender bias, child abuse and sexual crimes and many more, which cannot be honestly tackled simply by formulating laws or concluding international treaties.
These challenges can only be sincerely addressed if a collective global human endeav-our, based upon a value-based and philosophical vision, is initiated under the aegis of the United Nations, representing the global wishes and aspirations. And that vision is truly provided by the doctrine of non-alignment which, indeed, stands for equality, justice, fraternity on equal footing, and global peace, thereby paving
the way for creating a new world order characterised by these eternal and moral values.
This is why, India’s Vice-President, Hamid Ansari, exhorted the movement by his inspiring words: “Our theme for the next three years—Peace, Sovereignty and Solidarity for Development—is in congruence with our founding principles.” He made India’s founding position of the NAM clear by emphasising upon peace and sover-eignty being the essential prerequisites for development and cooperation along with ensuring the dignity and development of all humankind.
He also recalled the spirit inherent in the unforgettable words of the late Indian PM, Smt India Gandhi, about the NAM “as the largest peace movement of the world” that she had said during the course of the Seventh NAM Summit at New Delhi in 1983. He further stressed in the summit that the NAM must stand as the vanguard of all substantial international debates on political, social, economic and strategic issues and must also suitably adapt itself to the matching times so as to remain relevant and convincingly responsible towards its members in particular, and the entire humanity upon the mother earth in general.
The final communiqué of the Summit made a vigorous call for meaningful UN reforms, perhaps in an apparent reference to the United for Peace Resolutions adopted during the Korean War of the 1950s, when the UN Security Council was torn by the Cold War politics and no substantive decisions could be arrived at due to the mutually antagonistic views of the USA and the then USSR thereby crippling the global body, that may return the glory of the UN General Assembly of yesteryears so that it may function effectively despite hurdles created by the UN Security Council. Similarly it addressed all other prominent issues already pending under the forum of the movement, namely, South-South cooperation, New World Infor-mation and Communication Order, protection of environment and maintaining climate balance, inclusive growth and pending economic reforms for a New World Economic Order, Sustainable Development, Restraining Human Rights Violations, Child Abuse and Gender Bias, Total Conventional and Nuclear Disarmament, and last but not the least, elimination of terrorism of all shades and forms etc.—all with a view to establish a just and rule-based international democratic order ensuring equality, freedom, progress and prosperity for all countries in the world.
Thus the NAM, though often called irrelevant and redundant by the crooked American campaign, because it has no reason to exist after the end of the Cold War, has once again proved its vigour and vitality and also its reasons to exist because there is no end to challenges in the world, which come one after the other, and that will always demand a collective global voice and action. And for that the NAM is always useful and meaningful. What else can be the reason of its existence which is further supported by its consistently rising membership. As a British commentator had said a few decades back, “NAM has come to stay and it will stay as long as Super Power elephants threaten to trample the grass where lesser animals also graze.” It still holds true and will hold so forever.
Though the challenges are grave and threats unimaginable, but there is enough scope for sincere efforts with honest intentions and that one is not alone today as there is no dearth of saner minds and conscientious and God-fearing people. Let us all unite to defeat all evil forces in the world, particularly terrorism in all its forms, besides accomplishing all other goals—was India’s clarion call at the Margarita NAM Summit. This is possible because nothing is beyond human endeavour.
Dr Sudhanshu Tripathi is an Associate Professor of Political Science, M.D.P.G. College, Pratapgarh (UP). He can be contacted at e-mail: sudhanshu. tripathi07[at]gmail.com