It sounds like a software update whenever I see the numbers 2.0 appended to an acronym like firefox 11.2 or a chrome 20.1 etc. It was quite witty to coin the foreign policy a NAM 2.0 on the same lines and regarding the updates it provides, there are some terms which I found quite in line to be appreciative about. The basic theme remains the same, we don’t swear allegiance to any of the power factions, we still maintain and respect our own autonomy in decision making and also the autonomy of other countries as well. That’s that for a brief intro on what I will be trying to talk about here.
Going a little into details, a small overview of the NAM would help. NAM certainly shaped our foreign policy for a long time, it strengthened our stand and belief to withstand the global pressures and maintain our autonomy in the foreign affairs and the relations. The new NAM dubbed as an update 2.0 calls it under a different name- “Strategic autonomy”. Why the choice of word strategic? Again I think it makes a valid point cos when the NAM was coined, India was not in a position to be strategic for it was a country just into its independence having neither an economic strength nor a stable policy. Over the years India has proved its worth in many fronts, especially the most recent economic crisis has proved the strength as an economy and the participation in the international for a proving its importance and recognition too. The replacement of the G8 by the G20, the importance associated in international meets, the importance of having bilateral deals with the country have all endorsed the idea of the word “strategic” proposed here. I believe the word strategic takes an economic front and an personalized perspective here.
So the question still remains. Is NAM still relevant? NAM at its inception was directly associated with the cold war situation. Now, it doesn’t seem to make a direct reference to any of it cos there are no more of the two opposing factions anymore and there is neither a race to prove who is the strongest. The concept has changed and so has the meaning of NAM. And that’s the reason why the NAM 2.0 takes precedence here. The strategic economy acknowledges India’s changed position, where the goal is not just peace and working towards development but sustenance and growth. It is not at a position where it has to receive benefits or grants as a beneficiary but is in a position to drive growth and play a larger role in the neighbourhood helping the overall growth in the region as a benfactor.
The relation with its neighbours is dealt at a greater importance in the NAM 2.0 which is again a very sensible suggestion considering that Asia offers a great opportunity of growth and the reduced dependence on the west for economic developments. This is further endorsed by our growing interest in the relations in the surroundings. The look east policy has changed our view saying that development and growth is not unidirectional, looking at the west anymore. The east has an equally strong role to play. The recent FTA with ASEAN, the bilateral developments, opening of markets with S.Korea, Japan all seem to prove a bigger point that the dependence is no more a set of one or two countries but individually strong ones and each has to be treated at its own merit. And understanding this idea, the NAM 2.0 proposes the same.
So to answer the question as to whether the NAM 2.0 is relevant, I would say it very much makes its stand strong and clear. The ideas have changed, the roles have changed, but NAM still stays a longer way to come. The independence of thought, the deft, delicate relations to be handled have changed methods. It is not the two military or economic factions any more but individual delicate relations which don’t need allegiance towards any factions or restrictions imposed with a policy or an ideology. It is widening the options the country has and providing a greater position of bargain to arrive at. The changed role from a beneficiary to a benefactor certainly seems a strong driving point for the coinage- ‘strategic autonomy ’ and the update NAM 2.0 cos the basic still remains the same- playing no particular favourites.