ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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LUSAKA-I-Our Little Barks are Frail...

THE West has already called the bluff. The, Soviets, increasingly, find the Asian - African causes a trifle boring. The non-aligned themselves are always looking for a new window-dressing for their tried and reliable bi-alignment. It was amazing, against this background; that sixty-odd states were represented at the Third Non-aligned States Conference at Lusaka, Not only that, there seem to be new aspirants to membership of this club. Trinidad, in fact, sought admission and got it. Pakistan had made a similar but an unsuccessful effort at the Preparatory Conference at Dar-es-Salaam earlier this year. Evidently the term non-alignment not only retains some of its charm, but also continues to be the status symbol par excellence! This is the reason why these statesmen met at a brand new building specially constructed for the conference at Lusaka at a cost of 8 crores of rupees. How many arms these eight crores would have bought for the guerillas fighting in Southern Africa is an idle question; for a grand resolution condemning all the concerned powers was passed from the same building. The non-aligned leaders, astute statesmen as they were, did not go further. Indira Gandhi recalled our glorious freedom struggle and said that the Africans were fighting the same struggle as we ourselves had in the recent past. Everybody had something to say in this vein. The non-aligned summit, however, had no blueprint made for what these emergent countries could do to help the cause of liberation in Africa south of the Zimbabwe. The non-aligned shall periodically pass resolutions condemning the United States, France, West Germany, Britain and Japan (as they did at Lusaka) and shall keep quiet till the next summit. The advanced states have, it would seem, come to see through these slogans. They do not worry about them any longer. Meanwhile we have only a mild reproach for the British duplicity in Rhodesia and South Africa. The Commonwealth survives in spite of Enoch Powells and meaningless economic sanctior against Ian Smith. It seems, like a dip in the Holy Ganga, a resolution every five years or so will wash us off our guilt by association! This is only one illustration of the wordy inaction to which the non-aligned states chose to stick at Lusaka. Obviously they had no choice. Having taken a heavy intake of foreign aid, their talk of independence was bound to be hollow. Indira Gandhi made a reference to 'neo-colonialism', something which her father had never done. It was a refreshing change. She went on to assert that neo-Colonialism had no sympathy with effort of developing countries to achieve self-reliance because it would reduce economic leverage now used "for thinly disguised political purposes". There could hardly be a disagreement with this statement. But then, what should the non-aligned do about it or, for that matter, what has India done about it, were questions she had no time to answer. The much talked about self- reliance remains as far away as ever. But talking about it once in a way probably absolves one of the responsibility of doing anything about it. Words have become an opium of the ruling elite in the non-aligned states. Lusaka demonstrated that.

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