Indian Foreign Policy: Non Alignment in the Midst of the Cold War

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Indian Foreign Policy: Non Alignment in the midst of the Cold War

At the onset of the cold war, the world was rapidly developing into two hostile camps, one dominated by the west – most particularly by the US – and the other by the USSR. The two superpowers differed only by ideology, the US with capitalism and the USSR with communism, but both sought to aggressively spread their ideologies and expand their spheres of influence to other sovereign nations. No means was spared in this expansion, the use of military force, moral and economic pressure and security blocs were all commonly used to subjugate other nations. After World War Two, Europe was sufficiently polarized, any further expansion along the preset borders of East and West would have most certainly ended with war, a scenario none of the two camps wanted considering the continent was already ravaged by five long and bloody years of war. With no further expansion possible, the super powers turned their eyes on the newly formed countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. These newly independent countries were long dominated by the colonial rule of Europe, leaving them impoverished and susceptible to outside influence in the hopes of eliminating their economic burdens. But many rejected the pressure to choose sides in the US-USSR competition. In 1955, at the Bandung Conference in Indonesia, dozens of Third World governments committed to stay out of the Cold War. The consensus reached at the Bandung Conference concluded with the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961. Non Alignment stands for "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries" in their "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." Of these countries that follow the doctrine of non-alignment India is of great importance not only because it spearheaded non-alignment but because non alignment was deeply etched into its foreign policy more than a decade earlier on the eve of its independence. India like many other third world countries shared the same common history of domination and subjugation by an imperial power, because of that India was under colonial rule and struggled to gain her freedom. Furthermore, like those countries both the US and USSR vied to incorporate it into their spheres of influence. however according to the ideology of Non Alignment, India worked to distance itself in a way that would not let her be dominated by any one of the superpowers while still maintaining friendly relations and complete autonomy. Throughout the cold war India’s decision to remain non-aligned in her dealings with the US and USSR proved to be an effective technique in maintaining her independence and freedom while at the same time strengthening and/or maintaining her national security. Nonalignment had its origins in India's ancient history, colonial experience and the nonviolent Indian independence struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi. Years of harsh British Rule left India resolute to not be dominated by any foreign power either politically by Cold War blocs or economically by US capitalism or Soviet communism. The concept of non-alignment stems forth from the cultural and philosophical history of the India . Historically India has always had a diverse background, and has been the meeting point for many different people’s cultures and religions. Because of this; diversity, cooperation and tolerance has become the central philosophy of every Indian and leaves no room for absolutes and extremes but rather a golden middle path of compromises and tolerance. Naturally expanding this view to the power struggle between the US and USSR it makes sense that India rejects the ideologies of both powers and seeks a sustainable middle ground between the two. Indian non alignment was heavily...
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