With the disintegration of the European colonial system after the Second World War, many things appeared on the international stage that changed the nature, style and strategies of international relations.
Among those things, the emergence of new nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America brought about such a drastic change that the nature of international relations underwent a significant change in terms of its contents and style.
These nations have sought to change the international system. “Their attempt has been to change the rules of the game of international relations in a manner which sub serves their national interests and helps in the evolution of a world order which is based on justice.
By helping, and at times reversing, the historical process which has resulted in the establishment of an order based on economic exploitation and political dominance called imperialism”.
Most of the new nations sought to realise this object through a movement which has come to be known as non-alignment. The whole story of non-alignment from Belgrade Conference (1961) to the latest, Harare Conference (1986) confirms the resolve of the new nations in reshaping the international order.
It is another question as to how far non-alignment has succeeded in its mission. “Non-alignment”, as Prof. K.P. Misra says, “is an important theoretical contribution which is mobilising public opinion and thus creating favorable climate in favour of broad substantive and structural changes in international relationship.”
Non-alignment is an Indo-Anglican word. Non words are not common in English, while non seems to be an inevitable component of Indian philosophy and philology.
With the only exception of the Random House Dictionary, no other dictionary recognises non words.
So, as a concept, Non-alignment owes its origin to India. It was during our national independence movement, says Subimal Dutt in his memoirs ‘ With Nehru in the Foreign Office’, that “the principle of non-alignment was accepted by the Congress at Haripura session (1939).”
Even our culture and philosophy preaches what we refer to today as non-alignment. And this old Indian philosophy was asserted by Gandhi when he advocated that “India should be friendly to all, enemy to none.”
It was long before India became free that Jawaharlal Nehru, when he was in charge of External Affairs in the Interim Government, had declared that independent India would keep away from power blocs.
In 1946, he declared again that India would follow an independent foreign policy. He said, “We purpose as far as possible, to keep away from the power politics of groups, aligned against one another, which have led in the past to World Wars and which may again lead to disaster on an even wider scale.”
It was however, after the attainment of independence by India with unique historical experiences, geographical situation, and the perception of its national interest by enlightened leadership that non-alignment as a policy came to occupy an important position in international relations.
Burmese Prime Minister took the same stand when he declared in 1948 that “of all of the three great powers, U.K. the U.S.A., the U.S.S.R., Burma should be in friendly relations with all the three.”
It was again in 1950 that it declared that Burma does not desire “alignment with a particular power bloc antagonistic to other opposing bloc.” Indonesia also reciprocated the same feeling after gaining independence.
Certain people trace the origin of non-alignment in cold-wars. It was at the Algiers Conference of the Non-aligned held in 1973 that it was discussed whether non-alignment is a product of cold-war or anti- colonial struggle.
Fidel Castro of Cuba advocated that non-alignment is essentially ah anti-colonial and anti-imperialist move. He questioned its ant bloc tendency while pleading that socialism is a natural ally of non-alignment.
To illustrate his contention, he pointed that Soviet Russia has given persistent support to the goals and objectives of non- alignment. Yugoslavia, on the other hand, advocated a policy of equidistance from the power blocs. Equidistance implies its origin in cold- war.
According to him. the major object of non-alignment is to preserve peace between the major powers. P.N Haskar says, “As far as India was concerned, non-alignment did not originate in Belgrade.
It did not even originate in the Conference of certain number of Afro- Asian States held in Bandung in April, 1955.
Its roots lay deep in the very struggle for our freedom against British Imperialism and in the ethos and world view which Gandhi and Nehru imparted to that struggle giving to the most down-trodden Indian a sense of national identity, transcending the narrow confines of our social, religious and regime structures.
We are non-aligned abolition. We did not come to it as Yugoslavia did because of conflicts with the Soviet Union.” We may conclude this controversy by saying that it may have taken organizational form during the cold-war but it is certainly not a product of the cold-war.