Reinventing NAM for new economic order


The aphorism, ‘the king is dead, long live the king’ is perhaps equally true in respect of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM), which concluded its 15th Summit at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt on Thursday. The organisation was formally launched in 1961 in Yugoslavia. In the incipient years of its existence, it was a bulwark against imperialism and colonialism.

In course of its evolution and growth, it stood for decolonisation, disarmament and development. After the liberation of South Africa and end of apartheid in which India played a very crucial role, NAM devoted itself to the cause of disarmament and establishment of a New International Economic Order or Nieo.

Unipolar world

NAM lost much of its sheen and élan after disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the emergence of the unipolar world. But subsequent developments the world over, particularly the world economic crisis and emergence of a multipolar world under regional and sub-regional groupings, NAM is poised to play an important role in an unfolding multi-polar world.

The world order needs to democratise accommodating the aspirations of the developing countries who face numerous problems such as environmental degradation and the ripple effects of the world recession.

Today, NAM stands at a turning point of world history.    Agreed that the ideological divide has narrowed considerably and correspondingly mutual suspicion and mistrust and intolerance have given way to engagement.

But the issues for which NAM fought for tenaciously such as protecting the interests of the developing and under developed countries of the world is much pressing today.

Globalisation and policies of protectionism and neo-liberalism being pursued by the industrialised countries of developed world and also of the developing countries have only exposed the inherent weakness of decadent institutions like the World Bank and the IMF, the world recession is just one example which demonstrates how these institutions have outlived its utility. The message is loud and clear.

The stalemate at the Doha Round of Talks only reinforces the clarion call of the NAM for establishment of New International Economic Order (Nieo) articulated at the NAM summit in 1970 and 1973. The Nieo resulted in the appointment of the Brandt Commission which called for dialogue between the North and the South.

After so many years, it seems we are back to square one. The iniquity in international economic order still persists or perhaps has further deteriorated pushing the poorer countries to the brink of economic disaster.

No international organisation is as inclusive and comprehensive in its representation as is NAM, after the United Nations. The inclusive nature of NAM membership makes it the microcosm of world opinion. The membership of NAM is more than one hundred and is spread over the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America and even Europe.

Diverse group

It has within its fold petro rich countries like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Iraq and Iran, and the fast developing economies — called the tigers of South-east Asia like Singapore, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. There are also new democracies in Africa and Central America which have displayed a remarkable degree of economic dynamism.

What is significant is that at a time when the economic model of neo-liberalism has failed in most countries of the world, countries of the NAM have evolved a middle of the road stratagem for economic growth and development where state intervention is intertwined with a modicum of market forces, and that is perhaps the panacea to economic ills that afflict most of the countries today.

India had historically espoused the cause of the Afro-Asian countries and was looked up with hope by the developing and under developed countries. At a time when India has emerged as an economic power to be reckoned with, it is all the more appropriate that it should play its legitimate role in the NAM.

If India has to regain its leadership role in the comity of nations, both NAM and the Commonwealth provide the ideal fora for an inclusive global engagement. India has to regain its esteem as the leader of the developing countries of the world and calibrate a fine balancing act between the USA and Russia.

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