Answer Synopsis 25/11/2020

Question : What is the importance of NAM (Non alignment policy). Do you think India’s foreign policy seems to be moving away from “non-alignment.” Comment.

Structure of the answer

  • Describe policy of Non alignment and historical stand India has taken over the years.
  • Mention what led to the recent shift in the policy.
  • Give examples showing change not country specific – having broad contours.


Non Alignment Movement as an organization of States did not seek to formally align themselves with either the United States or the Soviet Union, but sought to remain independent or neutral. The policy of Non-alignment had its genesis in the backdrop of cold war, where U.S. and USSR signified 2 power blocs of the era. India’s Non alignment was about not joining any of the bloc and taking a balanced approach.

Importance of NAM

  1. World peace – NAM has played an active role in preserving world peace. It still stands by its founding principles, idea and purpose i.e. to establish the peaceful and prosperous world. It prohibited invasion of any country, promoted disarmament and a sovereign world order.
  2. Territorial integrity and sovereignty – NAM stands with this principle and proved its repeated relevance with the idea of preserving the independence of every nation.
  3. Third World nations – Third world countries fighting against socio-economic problems since they have been exploited for a long time by other developed nations, NAM acted as a protector for these small countries against the western hegemony.
  4. Support of UN – NAM’s total strength compromises of 118 developing countries and most of them being a member of UN General Assembly. It represents two third members of general assembly, hence NAM members act as important vote blocking group in UN.
  5. Equitable world order – NAM promotes equitable world order. It can act as a bridge between the political and ideological differences existing in the international environment.
  6. Interest of developing countries – If disputes arise between developed and developing nation at any point of a concerned topic for example WTO, then NAM act as a platform which negotiates and conclude disputes peacefully securing the favorable decisions for each member nation.
  7. Cultural diversity and human rights – In the environment of gross human right violation, it can provide a platform to raise such issues and resolve the same through its principles.
  8. Sustainable development – NAM supported the concept of sustainable development and can lead the world toward sustainability. Can be used as larger platform to make consensus on global burning issues like climate change, migration and global terrorism.
  9. Economic growth – The countries of NAM has 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.

India’s Foreign policy and its shift from ‘Non-alignment policy’  

  1. Disintegration of USSR and the rise of USA had tremendous impact on the foreign policy of India. India slowly updated its foreign according to the necessities of time.
  2. Economic needs of the fast developing India had to be supported by opening of its economy and getting more foreign assistance.
  3. World that emerged post-soviet era saw the rise of US as both an economic and strategic power. It was difficult to pursue India’s growth trajectory without engaging with US.
  4. India signed a nuclear deal with US in 2008.
  5. India today is a signatory to 3 of 4 US foundational agreements that it signs with its strategic defence partners that is LEMOA, COMACASA and GSOMIA.
  6. US recently changed the name of its Pacific command to Indo-Pacific command.
  7. Globalization, growing interdependence, and the emergence of transnational challenges have pushed India to engage with multiple global partners.
  8. Emergence of economic powerhouse in form of China has also posed a new challenge in front of India.
  9. India today has vibrant relations with Israel which were earlier marred with Palestinian considerations.
  10. India’s traditional stance has always been of recognition of Arab rights of Palestine and limited relations with Israel.
  11. India is a member of QUAD which partners Japan, US, Australia and India. It looks to further Indian interest in pacific region creating a major power bloc in the region.
  12. India is also member of major groupings such as BRICS, ASEAN and BIMSTEC etc. emphasizing Indian engagement in multiple global fronts.


  • It would not be right to call it departure from India’s policy of Non alignment.
    • Indo-US trade dispute in WTO, India’s largest arms deal with Russia (S-400 ), Indian purchase of oil from Iran even when US has imposed CAATSA on both of these nations.
  • Indian considerations in foreign relations are driven by their own strategic autonomy.
  • Indian foreign policy is evolving to encompass the growing needs of its national security and prosperity.
  • However Non alignment being India’s own brainchild it is unlikely that it will not be a part of India’s near future foreign policy.

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