“The Long-Sustained Image of India as a Leader of the Oppressed & Marginalized Nations is Gone” Elaborate

Updated October 6, 2022

The leadership and idealistic credentials of India can be seen through its various pragmatic stance against the dominating countries. During its struggle for independence, India stood with the oppressed and marginalised nations and condemned the actions of colonialists.

India has been a leader of the oppressed and marginalised nations and these nations were also known as the “Third World”. The Third world countries fought against socio-economic problems because they have been exploited for a long time by other developed nations.

NAM acted as a protector for these small countries against western dominance. India was the founder of the Non-Aligned Movement formed during the collapse of the colonial system.

India championed the causes of the oppressed and marginalized Nations through various initiative such as the Non-Aligned Movement, the freedom movement in African Countries, Apartheid movement in South Africa etc.

It contributed to the independence struggles of the peoples of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the other regions of the world. During the early days of the movement, its actions were a key factor in the decolonisation process, which led later to the attainment of freedom and independence by many countries and to the founding of new sovereign states.

But there is a shift in India’s approach towards its strategic foreign policy perspective. India has also reduced the significance it has attached to institutions like NAM, IBSA which can be witnessed through its reluctance in regularly hosting meetings. For Example, Irregular hosting of IBSA summit.  This has led to the disappearance of India’s image as the leader of the marginalised and oppressed nations.

How India can Historically be Accounted as the Leader of the Oppressed and Marginalised Nations

India was at the forefront to create a global space for developing nations and regions whose voices went unheard. It had supported the cause of decolonization and continued to lead the charge on behalf of the weaker states in the international system. During the Cold War which lasted till 1991 has a great impact on the various countries of the world.

(a) India had supported the interest of weakest economies in Doha round of WTO summit.

(b) India supported the concept of sustainable development. India made the NAM as a platform to make consensus on global burning issues like climate change, migration and global terrorism.

(c) India was a founding member of the NAM group. The Non-aligned movement is a movement of countries representing the interests and priorities of oppressed and marginalised nations.

This organization was set up to ensure “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 subjugation.

India emerged as a leader of the oppressed and marginalised nations. NAM played a very significant role during the cold war as it helped to stabilise the global order and preserving peace and security.

NAM acted as a platform of negotiation when the disputes arose between the developing countries and developed countries at any point. It concluded the disputes peacefully and securing the favourable decisions for each member nation.

(d) G77 is an intergovernmental organization of developing countries in the United Nations. It was founded on June 15, 1964, by 77 developing nations. India is one of the “institutional leaders” of G-77 with a decisive role.

India stands as a leader of the oppressed and marginalised nations in the world. The main purpose of the G-77 organization is to ensure that the developing world’s collective interests are safeguarded along with the enhancements of its negotiation capabilities in the wider United Nations system and other international forums.

Another important aim is to foster a good relationship between the developing world at large through economic and technical cooperation.

(e) India had raised its voice against the wrongdoings of superpowers. India always stands at the forefront for the oppressed and marginalised nations. Ex: India voiced its opinion against the US’ move to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

(f) India was a staunch opponent of the apartheid regime in South Africa, it was an unyielding supporter of the Palestinian cause and it opposed the Portuguese colonial presence in Angola and Mozambique.

(g) India’s voice has been gaining weight over the years especially on global platforms. This has allowed it to argue cases in favour of oppressed countries. Ex: India supporting the UN’s decision to transfer ownership of Chagos islands back to Mauritius.

This policy continued throughout the Cold War until India leaned toward the USSR while deftly maintaining strategic autonomy and charting its own course in a bipolar international order.

Reasons for India’s New Foreign Policy

Geopolitical structure

There was the regular threat from the neighbouring countries as 1962- Sino-Indian war, 1965- India-Pak war, 1971 war etc have certainly made India rethink its political alignment.  Countries like the US and Russia indeed act as balancing power to counter China and Pakistan. Ex: COMCASA deal with the US to counter China.

Rapid Emergence of Science and Technology

The science and technology sector of India is growing well along with other sectors and plays a major part in the economic growth. So, it has created a chance for India’s rapid strides in the global order. The other third world countries have failed to keep in sync with India’s pace and have fallen behind. Example: Nuclear capabilities, Space Science, Biotechnology, IT and communication etc.

Economic Transformation

In the last three decades, India’s economy has grown significantly, outperforming from the difficult situation of the cold war era. This has given a boost to India’s ambition to join the group of developed countries. Ex: Rise in FDI after LPG reforms.

With changing global order, the emergence of a multi-polar world and the emergence of India as an economic power has poised new image and role of India.

India’s Newfound Role in the Emerging Global Order

(i) Economic prosperity is now seen as the key to India’s attainment of great power status and it is the main argument behind its current world view.

(ii) India has many structural security challenges such as managing the China threat and the US partnership. The geopolitics of the Indian ocean has imposed the responsibility on India to ensure the security of the sea-lanes of communication from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Straits.

(iii) India is aiming to secure greater market access for services and pushing for easing restrictions in the sector. For example, focus on overcoming deadlock in Broad-Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) with European countries.

(iv) India is emerging as a new global leader and has significantly contributed to the infrastructural developments in Afghanistan like Salma Dam, Zaranj Delaram Highway, reconstruction of Parliament, Cricket Stadium etc.

(v) Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme, a bilateral assistance programme run by the Government of India to ensure the development of under developing and Least Developed Countries through infrastructure development and the capacity building.

(vi) India is aspiring to be a permanent member of the United Nation Security Council and Nuclear Suppliers Group.

(vii) It has been pushing for the conclusion of comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism which intends to criminalise all forms of international terrorism and deny terrorists, their financiers and supporter access to funds, arms and safe havens.

India still plays an active role in the newly emerging global order that will ensure that the marginalised nations will have their voice heard in platforms of global decision making.

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