Non – Aligned Movement

Context :

  • Recently Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu will represent India at the 19th Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Baku, Azerbaijan on October 25 and 26, marking the second time in a row that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will give the summit a miss.

About Non-Aligned Movement

  • The Non-Aligned Movement was formed during the Cold War, largely on the initiative of then-Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito, as an organization of States that did not seek to formally align themselves with either the United States or the Soviet Union, but sought to remain independent or neutral.
  • The basic concept for the group originated in 1955 during discussions that took place at the Asia-Africa Bandung Conference held in Indonesia.
  • Subsequently, a preparatory meeting for the First NAM Summit Conference was held in Cairo, Egypt from 5-12 June 1961.
  • Currently there are 120 members
  • Theme of this years summit is ‘Upholding the Bandung Principles to ensure concerted and adequate response to the challenges of contemporary world’.

Objectives of NAM

  • NAM has sought to “create an independent path in world politics that would not result in member States becoming pawns in the struggles between the major powers.”
  • It identifies the right of independent judgment, the struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism, and the use of moderation in relations with all big powers as the three basic elements that have influenced its approach.
  • At present, an addition goal is facilitating a restructuring of the international economic order.

Principal Organs of NAM

  • NAM does not have a formal constitution or permanent secretariat, and its administration is non-hierarchical and rotational. Decisions are made by consensus, which requires substantial agreement, but not unanimity


  • Created in 1997, this body consists of past, serving and future Chairs, and operates at the discretion of the incumbent chair.

Non-Aligned Security Council Caucus

  • The Caucus consists of NAM countries who are elected to the UN Security Council as rotating members. These States seek to adopt unified positions and to reflect the decisions and positions adopted at NAM Summits and Ministerial Conferences.

India’s Position

  • India being a founder and largest member in NAM was an active participant in NAM meetings
  • It is a widely held belief that the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was highly relevant for India and its foreign policy interests during the bipolar era of the Cold War a
  • It is true that NAM played an important role during the Cold War years in furthering many of the causes that India advocated: decolonisation, end to apartheid, global nuclear disarmament, ushering in of new international economic and information orders, etc. But what is generally ignored is the fact that NAM was more or less irrelevant for India in terms of helping to protect and promote its security and interests – the principal criterion by which the utility of a multilateral group should be measured.
  • NAM’s lack of utility for protecting and promoting India’s security and interests is clearly demonstrated by the diplomatic positions adopted by member countries during the various wars in which India has been involved. On each of these occasions, NAM members invariably adopted diplomatic positions that were not favourable towards or supportive of India.

Relevance of NAM in the current Scenario

  • It is a widely held belief that the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was highly relevant for India and its foreign policy interests during the bipolar era of the Cold War and that it has, since the 1990s, lost this relevance in a unipolar international order.
  • The world today has moved on from what the NAM founding leaders faced in Bandung in 1955. The scales of global geo-political balance have shifted, and continue to do so, propelled by forces of globalisation and transformational technological progress.
  • Long-held assumption and alignments rooted in the legacies of colonialism and the ideology of the Cold War are making way for new configurations and partnerships
  • Climate change, environmental degradation, terrorism, radicalisation, poverty, public health emergencies, humanitarian and natural calamities, cyber security threats, and the serious security implications of frontier technologies are just some of the challenges of this new world.
  • These challenges can only be faced together, not when we are divided. It requires collaboration, not coercion.


  • In sum, the Non-Aligned Movement was not relevant for promoting India’s important national interests during the Cold War years. And since the end of the Cold War, India’s increasing integration with international economic, political and security structures has led to NAM losing even its earlier limited usefulness as a vehicle for articulating India’s dissatisfaction with the international order.

Source: Indian Express

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