NAM at 60 marks an age of Indian alignment


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Non-Aligned Movement


The birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru this month and the 60th anniversary of the Non-Aligned Movement prompt reflection on Nehru’s major contribution to the field of international relations.

Background of NAM

  • In 1946, six days after Nehru formed the national government, he stated, “we propose… to keep away from the power politics of groups aligned against one another… it is for One World that free India will work.”
  •  Nehru was opposed to the conformity required by both sides in the Cold War, and his opposition to alliances was justified by American weapons to Pakistan from 1954 and the creation of western-led military blocs in Asia.
  •  Non-alignment was the least costly policy for promoting India’s diplomatic presence, a sensible approach when India was weak and looked at askance by both blocs, and the best means of securing economic assistance from abroad.
  • India played a lone hand against colonialism and racism until many African states achieved independence after 1960.
  • India played a surprisingly prominent role as facilitator at the 1954 Geneva Peace Conference on Indochina, whereafter non-alignment appeared to have come of age.
  •  Indian equidistance to both Koreas and both Vietnams was shown by India recognising neither; yet it recognised one party in the two Chinas and two Germanies.
  • The Treaty of peace, friendship and cooperation between India and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of 1971, fashioned with the liberation war of Bangladesh in view, come dangerously close to a military alliance.

Failures of NAM

  • Only two members of Summit Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, Cyprus and Ethiopia, supported India in the war with China.
  • Among the Non-Aligned Movement’s members was a plenitude of varying alignments, a weakness aggravated by not internalising their own precepts of human rights and peaceful settlement of disputes on the grounds of not violating the sacred principle of sovereign domestic jurisdiction.
  • Other failures were lack of collective action and collective self-reliance, and the non-establishment of an equitable international economic or information order.
  • The Movement could not dent, let alone break, the prevailing world order.


In essence, Indian non-alignment’s ideological moorings began, lived and died along with Nehru’s idealism, though some features that characterised his foreign policy were retained to sustain diplomatic flexibility and promote India while its economic situation improved sufficiently to be described as an ‘emerging’ power.

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