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Non Alignment 2.0

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Non Alignment 2.0 is the name of a policy document released on 30 January 2012 by an independent group consisting of Sunil Khilnani, Rajiv Kumar, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Prakash Menon, Nandan Nilekani, Srinath Raghavan, Shyam Saran, and Siddharth Varadarajan. The 70 page document starts by laying out the reasons for its existence:

NonAlignment 2.0 is an attempt to identify the basic principles that should guide India’s foreign and strategic policy over the next decade. The views it sets out are rooted in the conviction that the success of India’s own internal development will depend decisively on how effectively we manage our global opportunities in order to maximize our choices — thereby enlarging our domestic options to the benefit of all Indians.

The purposes of the present strategy document are three-fold: to lay out the opportunities that India enjoys in the international sphere; to identify the challenges and threats it is likely to confront; and to define the broad perspective and approach that India should adopt as it works to enhance its strategic autonomy in global circumstances that, for some time to come, are likely to remain volatile and uncertain.

The necessity of such a document is driven by a sense of urgency among all its authors that we have a limited window of opportunity in which to seize our chances.

This optimistic document does not budge from the post-independence view of India’s role in some crucial ways:

The fundamental source of India’s power in the world is going to be the power of its example.

This one conviction is the sheet rock of the principle of non-alignment: India is India, not a member of this or that block. On this basis the authors try to rescue the principle from what WSJ calls the “dustbin of history” (ironically, a bow and scrape in the direction of Leon Trotsky there). However, unlike the policies of a past generation, this document has a sense of urgency:

But while the underlying trends are propitious, time is of the essence. This is the case in two senses. The window of opportunity for India becoming a prosperous nation is relatively small: the basic structures and dynamics necessary to achieve this prosperity will have to be put in place in the next 10 to 15 years. The underlying factors that are propitious for our growth may not last very long.

The Indian media has, by and large, welcomed this; Business Standard, TOI, the Hindu, and others carry largely positive articles on this document. Criticism has come not only from the WSJ but also from other far political corners, such as Khaleej Times and the Daily Pioneer.

It is futile to try to summarize the adumbration of the basic logic in the rest of the document. Instead, I urge you to read it and make up your own mind.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

March 28, 2012 at 4:18 am

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