July 27, 2009 3:45:05 pm
The debate over the Sharm el-Sheikh joint statement continues. But independent of those issues,there is another one,flagged in Meghnad Desai’s recent column. Even if two PMs were going to meet,should it be done on the sidelines of a NAM conference? Whether it is Sharm el-Sheikh in 2009,or Havana in 2006 (remember consultations over Siachen that Musharaff milked?),we seem to indulge in bad drafting and faux pas because our minds are on NAM. Perhaps we will do the same at the next NAM summit in Tehran in 2012. Even if we want to permit reference to Balochistan or allow delinking of composite dialogue from action against terror,why do it at a NAM summit?
More importantly,why are we part of the talk shop known as NAM? In 1955,NAM was the outcome of the Nehru-Nasser-Tito triumvirate (plus Nkrumah and Sukarno) and its bedrock is still the Havana Declaration of 1979,whereby countries “struggle against imperialism,colonialism,neo-colonialism,racism,and all forms of foreign aggression,occupation,domination,interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics”. The Cold War is dead. Even before that,NAM splintered after Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Former Yugoslavia no longer exists.
With heterogeneity among members,and lack of clout,has a single agenda been successfully been pushed by NAM? Is there anything in the agenda that is not part of a broader UN platform,now that the focus is on socio-economic dimensions?
Apartheid issues are over. Is anti-Zionism a credible agenda? Even on disarmament,how much has been NAM’s success? Sustainable development,reforms of UN,MDGs and South-South cooperation are meaningless words on pieces of paper. Not that these issues are unimportant,but they are meaningless in NAM pronouncements. We should recognise Bandung Conference of 1955 for what it actually is,a milestone in history,but of little relevance today.
Participation in NAM (and summits) is not only dangerous because we trip over joint statements. It is more dangerous because it colours our policies and mindsets. We pronounce on imperialism,colonialism and neo-colonialism in NAM,but outside NAM,bend over backwards to align with US. Our foreign policy priorities are US,China,Europe and East Asia. None of these have anything to do with NAM,not even the last. In the post-1989 world and post-1991 India,it would be a good idea to opt out of NAM.
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