Saturday, July 18, 2009

Where is the Non-Aligned Movement going,?

Two years ago to be exact, the storms and thunder of the neocons were engulfing the world and then US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice told India to forget about the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). She told the US-India Business Council that NAM, which India led, has lost its meaning and India should "move beyond old ways of thinking" and build on the future of Indo-US relations.

Rice said NAM might have made sense during the Cold War, but she asked what it meant when people of every race and culture were embracing political and economic liberty.

NAM is an international organisation of 118 states which consider themselves not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. India was a main founding member of the movement along with Egypt and the former Yugoslavia.

The Indian government reacted to Rice's comments equivocally. "There is no apparent contradiction in expanding cooperation and democracy in the world and the Non-Aligned Movement," said then external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee.

With the preparations underway for the 15th NAM Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh 11-16 July, Indian VP Hamed Ansary stressed that the organisation was as vital as ever: "The basic agenda remains the same. We need a more equitable relationship between the developed and developing countries," though he added, "the issues we were talking about in the 1950s and 60s are not the issues we are talking about today."

Ministry of External Affairs Secretary N Ravi said: "NAM member countries have had varied experiences and have the opportunity to use them to build a framework for closer cooperation on the level of South-South. Today's world is very intensely interconnected, travel has become extremely common."

Defence analyst GuptaArvvind calls for NAM to be less confrontational and for it to help usher in a new world order addressing climate change, water and food security and justice.

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