Foreign Policy Watch- India-Central Asia

What is India’s current policy of multi alignment? Advantages and challenges


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : non alignment movement

Mains level : foreign policy

Multi alignmentContext

  • Forthcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan is leading India to multi alignment.


  • India’s journey of foreign policy from being the founder of non-alignment to the multi-alignment. In his book The India Way, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar offers a critique of India’s traditional policy of “non-alignment”, where he distinguishes between the “optimistic  non- alignment ” of the past, which he feels has failed, that must give way to more realistic “multiple engagements of the future”.

Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO)

  • SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and security organization.
  • It is the world’s largest regional organization,
  • 40% of the world population
  • More than 30% of global GDP.
  • Members: 8-China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.

Multi alignmentSCO SUMIIT, 2022

  • Host- Uzbekistan,
  • Uzbekistan will host a full house: 15 leaders including eight member states from four Central Asian States, China, India, Pakistan and Russia,
  • The observer states: Belarus, Mongolia and Iran (which will become member this year) —
  • Afghanistan is not invited
  • Leaders of guest countries -Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Turkmenistan

What is non- alignment?

  • It’s a policy, a brainchild of Nehru. Non-alignment movement emerged after second world war.
  • Non-alignment means not having an alliance with any of superpower, either USSR or USA.  Decolonized nations of Asia and Africa was largely a part of this group.

Multi alignmentIndia’s policy of non-alignment

  • At bandung conference in 1955 non-alignment movement started with India as one of the founding member.
  • With policy of non-alignment India refused to gravitate towards USA or USSR.
  • India was the leader of non-alignment.

What is India’s current policy of multi- alignment? Advantages and challenges.

  • Since the start of his tenure from 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi have not attended any conference of non-alignment.
  • External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar in his book, The Indian way have criticized the non-alignment.
  • In the words of Former Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale India is no longer the non-align nation.

How it is a Multi alignment policy?

  • India to truly multi aligned or all aligned by being a part of every major grouping.
  • India is a part of BRICS and Prime Minister Modi is attending the SCO SUMMIT in Samarkand.
  • On parallel to rival groups India is also the part of Quad and Indo pacific economic framework.
  • India is buying the discounted Russian oil and reusing to buckle under pressure from west and USA.
  • S-400 purchase is happening and India have dodged the bullet of sanctions from USA.
  • India is choosing the bilateral Free trade agreement like with Australia and UAE and withdrew from groupings like RCEP and Most recently IPEF. This policy are is said to be in the economic interest of India.

Advantages of Multi alignment

  • India no longer wants to repeat the mistake of missing out of P5 Security council (“Permanent membership in the Security Council was granted to five states based on their importance in the aftermath of World War II).
  • If any group work against your interest it is better to be part of group rather than remain outside and do nothing
  • With retreating USA and its collapsing hegemony world is moving towards multiple polar world order.


  • Major disadvantage of non-alignment is you no longer have influence over adverse policy of friendly country.
  • For example. Russia sells S-400 to India but it also sold the same weapon to china.
  • USA and India are strategically getting closer day by day but USA recently approved the sale of $450 million F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.


  • Multi alignment will serve India its best national interest.
  • So far India has managed the rival parties at world stage to secure its foreign policy objectives but with Russian aggression and Chinese assertion and divided world will pose a significant challenge to India’s multi alignment policy.


Mains question

Q. What do you understand by non-alignment and multi-alignment? Analyze the shift In India’s foreign policy from non-alignment to multi-alignment.

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