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

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Non-Alignment

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Although not a member of the "fervent band" of NAM "devotees" I found your recent editorial comment (April 1) on India's foreign policy in the context of president Clinton's visit disturbing. Was it necessary to poke fun at president K R Narayanan while debunking non-alignment? There is nothing wrong or irrelevant in the suggestion that the principles guiding non-alignment are quite valid in a world threatened by the hegemony of one power. Despite mainstream thinking on the subject in the light of recent international developments, both at the political and economic levels, the concept of national sovereignty has assumed a new significance. You will certainly agree that sovereignty, with all its manifestations, is the greatest asset a country has and integration into an unfair world trade order on terms dictated by the US is predicated upon the depreciation of this age-old strength associated with the formation of nation states. It is one thing to speak of India's growing role in international trade and quite another to perceive the implications of conforming to the WTO or signing the CTBT. What we need is not merely the unhindered one-sided movement of capital and goods but also the freedom of labour to make the world economy truly more competitive. In short the developing countries require fair and not merely free trade and Indian foreign policy should ideally reflect this growing need. The North-South dialogue can be viewed in this context more fruitfully. Beyond these immediate concerns are issues pertinent to American policy towards the UN, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Trade cannot become paramount at the cost of these issues in coining a new foreign policy “harmonising...the country’s external and internal concerns”. There is much in non-alignment which may have become irrelevant to a world without superpower blocks but has imperialism, and the inequality inherent in it, suffered the same fate just because the developed world has no visible nineteenth century colonies to defend?

Anirudh Deshpande
Gurgaon

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