The concept is even now more a wish than a reality. Everywhere there are clashes of interest, accentuated by conflict of ideologies. The big and advanced nations have attained unimaginable material prosperity. They are using their wealth to acquire ever-increasing military strength. They view others with fear and suspicion.
This leads them to enter into pacts and form protective and defensive alliances. In this way there has come into existence, powerful military blocks armed to the teeth. In this highly explosive situation the existence of a neutral block, solemnly wedded to peace, cultivating and fostering good neighborly relations, and refusing to be drawn into military alliance is difficult.
In fact, the Non-Alignment Movement is now the only safe alternative to nuclear devastation. Nations with peaceful intention have declared their firm intention of existing side by side as friendly neightbours, helping each other to weather through storm and stress and to develop each other’s material resources and cultural relations.
This concept of peaceful co-existence was formulated at Bandung (Indonesia) in collaboration with Communist China in 1955. Those were the days when the Mao-ist slogan was—’let a thousand blossoms, bloom in peace, thousand ideologies contend’. This gave to the policy of peaceful co-existence a new dimension. The nations adhering to this policy gave it a formidable weightage.
The nuclear powers of those days—USA, USSR, UK and Prance spelt danger to each other, and the emergence of a neutral group, refusing to join any of them was the only hopeful sign in an aggravating situation.
Since then, China has drifted away into other paths. This has given greater strength and significance to the NAM movement. Formerly America regarded the movement with disfavour; “those who are not for us are against us”—they seemed to think.
Nations faithful to this movement are gradually multiplying, the present member being 70 (seventy) countries, mostly of Asia, Africa and under-developed countries of Latin America. An atmosphere of goodwill is spreading all around. People have begun to speak less of war and more of for settling difference through peaceful means of negotiations and cultural exchanges.
The incessant stress laid on the need for peaceful co-existence has made military-minded people aware that war creates more problems than it can ever solve. A third world has come to stay and its view is always helpful in restoring a sense of values.
From the outset, India, under the able leadership of Nehru, an ardent believer in Non-violence has declared herself unequivocally in favour of this policy. She has resisted all pressure from within and outside to change her policy. The implications of this policy are clear. Nations should live as decent neighbours. If there are differences, they should be settled by friendly negotiation.
Each should understand the other’s difficulties and make due allowances for them. No nation should interfere in the internal affairs of another. Mutual grievances should be discussed and settled amicably. The implementation of this policy needs patience and goodwill. Given goodwill, no problem is beyond solution. Even the Pentagon of America has been forced to recognise this in Vietnam.
The concept of peaceful Co-existence has for India a two-fold significance,—moral and practical. From the moral point of view, it is in harmony with India’s traditional regard for non-violence.
In this concept India finds a moral justification for keeping clear of military involvements. India refuses to be an aggressor or to interfere with other people’s affairs. But from the practical point of view, it is a highly desirable policy. It enables India to devote herself to peaceful task of re-construction undisturbed.
For a developing country peace is one thing absolutely necessary. She is gradually extending her relations with countries like Russia. Japan, Indonesia, Brazil, Egypt and other like-minded nations of the SARC. For India peaceful co-existence is not only a principle but a sterling policy.