Context: The Prime Minister of India participated in the online Summit of Non Aligned Movement (NAM) Contact Group held on the evening of May 4, 2020 to discuss response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
More on news:
- The online NAM Contact Group Summit was on the theme of "United against COVID-19”. was hosted by the current Chairman of NAM, President of Republic of Azerbaijan HE Ilham Aliyev.
- The member States of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe also joined the summit.
- Objective of the summit: The objective of the Summit was to promote international solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and to mobilise efforts of States and international organisations to address the pandemic. The event also commemorated the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace.
- The Prime Minister emphasized the importance of a coordinated, inclusive and equitable response by the world to COVID- 19 crisis, outlining the steps India had taken domestically and internationally, while reaffirming India’s readiness to offer assistance in solidarity with the Movement, to the extent possible.
- The leaders of NAM adopted a Declaration underlining the importance of international solidarity in the fight against COVID-19.
- Creation of a ‘Task Force’ to identify needs and requirements of member States through the establishment of a common database reflecting their basic medical, social and humanitarian needs in the fight against COVID-19 was also announced.
- New template of globalisation should be based on equality:India also called for a ‘new template of globalisation’ after the Covid pandemic ends, and wants WHO to build healthcare capacity in developing countries.
- The world needs international institutions that are more representative.
- Present global order represents the order which was suitable for post second world war.
- India also brought to concern the spread of other deadly viruses such as terrorism, fake news and doctored videos.
- Pharmacy of World: India has sent critical drugs and medical devices to 123 countries, including 59 members of NAM, showing India is ‘pharmacy of the world’ for essential medicines.
- India also highlighted the importance of transparency in dealing with such pandemics.
- It also urged WHO to focus on building health capacities in developing countries.
Significance of online summit of NAM contact group:
- It underlined India’s longstanding commitment to the principles and values of NAM as one of its leading founding-member.
- It also exposed the limitations of the current global order.
- It also highlighted the importance of a continued effort by the world against other viruses, in particular terrorism and fake news.
- Increased coordination: NAM Leaders assessed the impact of COVID-19, identified needs and requirements for possible remedies and urged action-oriented follow-up measures.
- Highlights the importance of NAM: The prime minister did not attend NAM summits in 2016 and 2019.
- It also highlighted the importance of democracy, discipline and decisiveness to create people’s movement.
Non Alignment Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a Movement of countries representing the interests and priorities of developing countries who didn’t align with any superpower during the cold war era.
- The Movement has its origin in the Asia-Africa Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955.
- The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a forum of 120 developing countries that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide.
- The purpose of the organization was enumerated by Fidel Castro in his Havana Declaration of 1979 as to ensure "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries" in their "struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics.
- It has 120 members as of April 2018 comprising 53 countries from Africa, 39 from Asia, 26 from Latin America and the Caribbean and 2 from Europe (Belarus, Azerbaijan). There are 17 countries and 10 international organizations that are Observers at NAM.
- The countries of the Non-Aligned Movement represent nearly two-thirds of the United Nations members and contain 55% of the world population.
Current activities of NAM:
- Current US policy and NAM: In recent years the organization has criticized certain aspects of US foreign policy. The 2003 invasion of Iraq and the War on Terrorism, its attempts to stifle Iran and North Korea's nuclear plans, and its other actions have been denounced by some members of the Non-Aligned Movement.
- Sustainable development: The movement is publicly committed to the tenets of sustainable development and the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals, but it believes that the international community has not created conditions conducive to development and has infringed upon the right to sovereign development by each member state.
- Reforms of the UN: The movement has been outspoken in its criticism of current UN structures and power dynamics, stating that the Organisation has been utilized by powerful states in ways that violate the movement's principles. It has made a number of recommendations that it says would strengthen the representation and power of "non-aligned" states.
- South-South cooperation: The movement has collaborated with other organizations of the developing world – primarily the Group of 77 – forming a number of joint committees and releasing statements and documents representing the shared interests of both groups.
How India has benefitted from NAM?
- High Ideals: In a world racked by geopolitical muscle flexing, the NAM refreshingly provides a unique approach to disarmament and economic development. It freed INDIA from a cluster-mind mentality that has plagued the foreign policy of many European nations.
- NAM enabled India and many newly born countries in the 1950's and 1960’s their sovereignty and alleviated the fears of neo-colonialism.
- NAM made India a leader for many countries who didn’t want to ally with the then global powers USA or USSR. India became a soft-power leader which still holds good till date.
- Balanced friendship: India’s non-alignment gave her the opportunity to get the best of both the global superpowers of the time in terms of aid, military support, etc. This was in line with her objectives of national development.
For example - India bought MIGs from Russia and asked the US for other technology-related assistance.
- India with the policy of Non-alignment could take up independent policies without the interference of any of the superpowers - the US and USSR.
- India was also one of the balancers of power relation in the Cold War era. Overall Non-alignment helped India in its early and the most important stage of growth.
- Engagements in multiple forums(IBSA,BASIC,BRICS,QUAD,AIIB,G4,G20 etc ) for varying economic, political and security purposes have made the Non-Aligned Movement “largely incidental” to India’s pursuit of its national interest since the end of the Cold War.
RELEVANCE OF NAM:
- Multi-polarity: Now the present world scenario is at a slow but steady pace. Unipolar is slowly shifting to the multipolar world and eager to look into the matter of global economic issues. Even G20 realized that they cannot withstand without developing nations in this phase of the acute crisis.
- Can be used as a platform to bring about disarmament as it is a platform where India’s Leadership is recognised.Further it can be used to gather support for India’s quest to become a permanent member of the UNSC.
- NAM declaration has several elements which developing nations need to take note of like to decisively address the challenges posed in the areas of peace, economic and social development, human rights and international cooperation, to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes etc.
- Voice of the South Bloc (Third World Countries): The Hitherto unheard countries of the South can use it to put forward their individual as well as collective demands.
- Check on big power ambitions-NAM consists of 120 developing nations and this overwhelming strength of this third world nation acts as a check on big power ambitions. It stood as a unifying force against the traditional foreign policy of great powers and strictly restricts imperialism, nationalism, and universalism.
- Economic growth: The countries of NAM have inherent assets, such as a favourable demography, demand and favourable location. The cooperation can lead them to higher and sustainable economic growth. Can be an alternative to regional groupings like TPP and RCEP.
Problems with NAM:
- Could not prevent India-Pakistan wars and indo China wars: During wars NAM members adopted a diplomatic approach. To begin with, during the 1962 War with China, Ghana and Indonesia – two of the co-founders of NAM, along with India – adopted explicitly pro-China positions. Ghana, which had developed close economic ties with China, even cautioned the United Kingdom against giving military aid to India since it might “aggravate the unfortunate situation”.
- No coordinated approach: NAM was formed more out of political compulsions and friendship of leaders rather than for a concrete purpose. Members of the NAM have different political, social and economic structure which hinders any cohesive action each with their own set of interests.
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