Are we non-aligned?
Even as New Delhi puts its foot down and sides with Moscow over the still unfolding Crimean crisis, realities are changing thick and thin. For one, the slapping of economic sanctions on Russia after expelling it from the G8 (now G7), ideas are floating around debating whether it’s a Cold war redux and whether Vladimir Putin is trying to rebuild from the scratch the lost world of Soviet Russia. With the UN General Assembly declaring the Crimean referendum invalid, and ‘Russian annexation of Crimea’ to be ‘illegal’, the world is fast camping up along old dividing lines and the bipolarities that characterised much of 20th century. But out of the 193 countries that were asked to lay bare their sentiments over the Crimean flashpoint, the abstentees are the ones who can determine a new order of things. India, China and Brazil, while clearly stating they disapprove of unilateral sanctions and trade and travel embargoes, have nevertheless abstained from casting a vote. This though could be read as not trying to align with any one camp and not further the already existing tensions. Favouring diplomatic and multilateral dialogues, India, along with a few other countries, has urged the powers to consider reasoned arguments instead of blatant muscle flexing. With both Iran and Israel, longstanding adversaries, too among those who decided to not back either parties in the struggle over Crimea, the situation is truly intriguing. Given that New Delhi, Beijing and Brasilia have deep reservations about US-driven sanctions crippling economy and sovereignty of countries, such as those in Libya, Syria among others, perhaps non-alignment as a political philosophy could make a comeback.