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Udhay asked: Is there any scope for India to lead a group of democratic countries, instead of a weak NAM?

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  • S.D. Muni replies: The US led the so-called democratic camp against the communists and that precipitated the Cold War. Even in the name of leading the democracies, US aligned with all kinds of military and authoritarian regimes. At the later stages in the Cold War, the US even supported China a communist country, in order to isolate the then Soviet Union, another communist country. The point is to underline the fact that international relations are conducted primarily on the basis of perceived national interests, not on the nature of political systems.

    In the NAM also there are many democratic countries. If you think that NAM is a weak group, which it is, how will a group of democratic countries will be strong. Most of the democratic countries are in the West. US still being a superpower claims to lead them. How will India be allowed or be benefited by leading them? Why would these developed countries accept India's leadership? And, leadership for what?

    However a “Community of Democracies” was established in June 2000 by about a 100 founding members of which India was an active member. This group was formed to ‘promote and strengthen democracy’ at the initiative of US and Poland. This group does not aim to coordinate the foreign policy moves or strategies of the member countries. India, in 2005, also joined the UN Democracy Fund and allocated financial resources to help in the global cause of promoting democracies. Traditionally in its foreign policy, however, India has hesitated from taking any strong initiative in supporting or promoting democratic forces in other countries. The exception is only in the case of some of India’s immediate neighbours.

    What India needs to do is to build its capabilities and pursue its vital national interests, without bothering about leading this or that group.