FOR THE second time in a row, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not attend the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Baku, Azerbaijan on October 25 and 26, and instead Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu will represent India at the summit.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who is in Baku for the ministerial meeting, said, “The world today has moved on from what the NAM founding leaders faced in Bandung in 1955. The scales of global geo-political balance have shifted, and continue to do so, propelled by forces of globalisation and transformational technological progress. Long-held assumption and alignments rooted in the legacies of colonialism and the ideology of the Cold War are making way for new configurations and partnerships.”
Prime Minister Modi did not attend the last NAM summit in Venezuela in 2016, and Vice-President Hamid Ansari had represented India at that time.
While many had cited scheduling issues and prior commitments of the Prime Minister at that time for missing the summit, his absence for the second time makes it clear that Delhi has moved away from the NAM concept – and has adopted an approach of “issue-based alignment”.
This was first articulated by Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale in January this year, and has been reiterated by others at various occasions.
The theme for the Summit is “Upholding the Bandung Principles to ensure concerted and adequate response to the challenges of contemporary world”.
India is a founding member of NAM, which is one of the largest gatherings of world leaders. India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had led a pioneering role in the formation of the movement.
Jaishankar also said on Wednesday, “We must reform and revitalise the current arrangements and working methods of our Movement, to allow us to pursue a positive and forward looking agenda. At the same time, we must guard against attempts to divide us and to misuse multilateral platforms to further narrow interests.”
In sum, he said, “a democratic, effective, flexible, credible, transparent and representative, multilateral order – “reformed multilateralism”, if you will – is a 21st century imperative”
He also said that terrorism is the single biggest threat not only to international peace and security, but also to development. “No cause justifies the indiscriminate killing of innocents as a means of achieving a political goal. The growing linkages between terrorist groups and cross-border operations including terror financing networks, and the spread of hateful ideologies through modern communication technologies have left no country untouched by this scourge,” he said.
“As a group whose citizens stand to lose the most, our collective actions must match our words. Our fight against terrorism has to be fought collectively and across all fronts. The international community cannot afford selective approaches or double standards on this issue,” he said.