Non-alignment has been the guiding principle of India’s foreign policy ever since she attained independence on August 15, 1947. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s man of destiny and her first Prime Minister was the main architect of the policy of non-alignment in the world, to which General Nasser of U.A.R and Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia were the two great contributors.
India has stoutly refused to be drawn into the ambit of international treaties, and alliances of a military nature. She has stuck enaciously to her avowed policy of keeping away from the marshes of cold war and power politics. Also India has persistently tried to relax international tensions and to promote world peace.
Non-alignment is not a run-away dogma of expediency, but a positive means to the positive end. It is not even synonymous with ‘isolationism’, or ‘neutrality’. It is purposive non-involvement in power politics, avoidance of military alliances and pacts to retain freedom of judgment and to preserve national identity and interests. It ensures freedom to judge each issue on merits within framework of national sovereignty, independence and interests.
Today, non-alignment has come to be definitely established in international politics as a powerful creed with more adherents than those of the two Power blocs put together.
Non-alignment acquires significance in the context of international relations. It implies non-associating oneself with either of the two Power blocs, namely, the Western block leaded by the U.S.A. and the Communist block led by Soviet Russia. Non-alignment cannot tolerate injustice and cannot compromise with the culprit. It does its best; shout of an open intervention in actual flare-up to see that there is no aggression or one aggression has been committed the aggressor does not run way with the fruits of aggression. It is bold enough to point out the mistakes of anybody, no matter, however, powerful he may be. It is not a negative crud, but a positive dynamic philosophy.
The policy of non-alignment has been founded on three very sound theoretical and practical considerations. First, the entire history of India bears out that India has always championed the cause of peaceful co-existence. She has never sanctioned expansionist power politics. The ‘Upnishads’, the Gita, the Buddha, Ashoka and Gandhi have been exponents of the philosophy of peace. Thus, non-alignment is naturally expected as the political expression of India’s traditional philosophy of peace. If the countries of the world can look towards any nation to lead them to an era of peace and co-operation, it can be India and India alone.
Secondly, the exigencies of international power—politics demand the policy of non-alignment. In a hostile world torn by armed sections, it is an extremely prudent policy to strengthen areas of peace to wean away as many nations as possible from military alliances. Consolidation of peace areas would diffuse tension and act as a deterrent to the clash of the two power groups.
Thirdly, India as a developing nation could hardly afford, to get entangled in military alliances of rival power systems and get distracted from the principal task of socio-economic reconstruction. A newly emerged nation stare that has just embarked on the process of national reconstruction can hardly make herself a part of military pacts. To her, social welfare programmes are of primary importance, Thus India opted for the policy of non-alignment as a sheer necessity.
It was due to India’s non-aligned posture that she could play such a significant role in bringing an end to the wars in North and South Korea by playing the role of a peace-maker. India in those days also played an important part in the solution of other disputes like Congo, Cyprus, Arab-Israel, etc.
India also formed the five golden principles of Panchsheel for the practical implementation, of the policy of non-alignment. In these five principles India preached the policy of non-aggression, non-interference in the internal affairs of one-another, a basis of equality and mutual benefit, respect for one-another’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and peaceful coexistence. India’s policy of non-alignment also consisted of the principles of anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism. All through India advanced the cause of the people suffering under the colonial rule in Asia, Africa and elsewhere. Another important principle of non-alignment has been anti-racialism and the elimination of wars in the world.
Right from the beginning, India has regarded non-alignment as a guarantee of her national defence and security. The concept was expected to expand the area of peace and harmony, reduce conflicts. Among the other assumptions were that no neighbour would attack India, especially because this country has never had aggressive designs against any country. But China’s attack on India in 1962 inspite of the Nehru-Chou slogans of “Hindi Chhini Bhai-Bhai”, and Pakistan’s wars against India have removed the sense of complacency that had overtaken India.
From March 1983 to September 1986, India was the leader of NAM. The Delhi summit marked a new, positive stage in the progress of the movement (the preceding chairman being Cuba’s President, Fidel, Castro, a close ally of Moscow). The world situation has lately deteriorated. The crisis in West Asia, Latin America and in certain other parts of the world has become rather serious with peace having been shattered. The Delhi session of NAM was a notable success; it was attended by nearly 100 leaders from various parts of the world. The summit did not get bogged down in minor or procedural matters; it reasserted the important role of non-align-meat as a bridge of understanding in an interdependent world. The Delhi Declaration was well-worded and the call to world powers also sounded impressive as well as convincing, but unfortunately the Western countries took little notice of the NAM call; even the Western media largely ignored the resolutions and the lengthy communiqué issued after the summit.
It should be clear that India’s policy of non-alignment has not been an attitude of negative neutrality. It is better to describe it as independence India has never been aloof from or indifferent to various international issues. She has never hesitated to take a firm stand on international issues raised in the United Nations. Whether it be the U.S.A., the U.S.S.R. or China, if any of their activities has deserved censure, India has strongly censured it. This policy has won for India a certain prestige and respectability, which it would have been impossible for hereto, win by becoming merely a follower of other nations. It has also won for her many friends among the Arab and African nations.
Some people have also been criticizing the policy of non-alignment pursued by India all these years. According to them India has not gained any permanent supporters & the International field and that countries like Pakistan which aligned with U.S.A. or other powers, enjoyed the benefits of more friends and more economic, military and political aid. The critics say that non-alignment is more a moralist dogma than a realist policy based upon Moral-than’s scientific theory of International politics. They further say that on many occasions in the past, this policy has not served our national Interests and at the time of our national crisis like the India-China war and the Indo-Pakistan war, we were left friendless. Even our so-called non-aligned friends did not raise their linger in support of our just and right cause. According to these critics, India could have by joining either of the blocs, made her position quite strong and powerful and she must have got more economic, political and military assistance as well as the political support from her aligned friends. Another criticism levied is that the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace and Friendship is our definite tilt towards the Russian bloc.
But if we objectively see the history of the ideology of non-alignment and its practice by India, we feel that the fears mentioned above are not justified. India has played a very important and positive role towards the establishment of world peace, decolonisation, and lessening the tension between the American and Russian blocs. It is credit to the sagacious policy of India that today an over whelming majority of the nations of the world are the followers of the policy propounded by India. Through the policy of non-alignment, India helped in hastening the process and pace of decolonisation in Asia and Africa, India has won a unique stature in the eyes of the world community because of her non-aligned policy. It was due to India’s role that many ugly situations were warded off and amicable settlements could be arrived at.
India’s policy of non-alignment gradually turned into a movement which .has played a successful role in expediting a process of decolonisation but has not met with comparable success in the field of disarmament. The escalating arms race and stockpiling of nuclear weapons is one of the major sources of tension around the world. Salvation of the world lies only in checking this mad armament lace. Besides, it is important that international economic relations are so restructured that there is better understanding and co-operation between the rich and poor nations. At present, the non-aligned are confronted with both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to reinforce their basic unity and integrity and to resolve firmly to remain free from military alliances. The challenge is also to work for the eradication of apartheid and to ensure dignity to every human being irrespective of his colour or nationality. And the opportunity is to work for enduring peace through disarmament and for the economic welfare of all the nations through better economic co-operation. The success of non-alignment, in turn, depends upon the courageous discharge of the noble duties to which the protagonists of that philosophy have dedicated themselves. If this is done, a new era of peace, co-operation and co-existence is sure to herald in international politics.