Cold War

The very fact of India’s achieving independence caused an enormous impact all over the world. Freedom fighters everywhere received a great impetus. India convened the Asian Relations Conference in March 1947; this served as a pace setter for the coming events. Nehru summed up the shared sentiments when he said:

For too long, we of Asia have been petitioners in the Western courts of the Chancellories. That story must now belong to the past. We propose to stand on our own feet and to co-operate with all others who are prepared to co-operate with us. We do not intend to be a plaything of others.

‘Standing on our own feet’ and ‘not being a plaything of others’ was the essence of the policy of non-alignment.

The policy of non-alignment was contagious, and soon the number of its votaries began to increase for the same reasons and motivations.

An essential feature of the policy of non-alignment was the emphasis on peace, universal disarmament, and elimination of the element of fear. On January 12, 1951, Nehru said:

What we need is a passion for peace and for civilised behaviour in international affairs. It is the temper of peace and not the temper of war that we want, even though peace is sometimes casually mentioned….If we desire peace, we must develop the temper of peace and try to win even those who may be suspicious of us or who think they were against us. We have to try to understand others, just as we expect them to understand us. We cannot seek peace in the language of war or threats.

The policy of Non-Alignment was against creating positions of strength or playing the game of power politics. The doctrine of balance of power did not find favour with this. The commitment to peace also involved tackling the root cause of the social, economic and political conflicts, reducing international tensions and resolving conflicts without recourse to violence. The resolution of conflict through discussion, negotiation and accommodation was the way.

India stoutly refused to be drawn into the ambit of international treaties, and alliances of a military nature. India persistently tried to relax international tensions and to promote world peace.

Non-alignment was not a run-away dogma of expediency, but a positive means to the positive end. It is not even synonymous with 'isolationism', or 'neutrality'. It was purposive non-involvement in power politics, avoidance of military alliances and pacts to retain freedom of judgment and to preserve national identity and interests. It ensured freedom to judge each issue on merits within framework of national sovereignty, independence and interests.