20 September, 2020

To Stand Apart Still

Non-alignment retains its usefulness in the flexibility it affords

To Stand Apart Still

Why necessarily conjure up the ghost of a failed past? This was the question posed rather insistently when a group of us published a  roadmap for India’s foreign policy, ‘Non-Alignment 2.0’. Indeed, several commentators on the document could barely get past the title, which seemed too regressive and redolent of an outdated ideology to be adapted for the 21st century. These arguments are misplaced on several counts—both in their reading of the past and present.

For starters, non-alignment as propounded by Jawaharlal Nehru always drew more on pragmatism than on principle. As the vice-president of the interim government, Nehru stated in a radio broadcast in September 1946: “We propose, so far as possible, to keep away from the power politics of groups aligned against one another, which have led in the past to world wars and which may again lead to disasters on an even vaster scale”.

India had recently fought the Second World War—a conflict into which it was pulled on the side of the Allies without so much a...



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