KingMakers IAS Academy logo

From Non-alignment to Multi-alignment – India’s Foreign Policy

From Non-alignment to Multi-alignment – India’s Foreign Policy

UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus: GS-2-  Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

In separate statements this week, External Affairs Minister laid out India’s world view in the face of global challenges, many of which pull it in different directions. Mr. Jaishankar’s contention was that non-alignment as a concept belonged to a bygone era and that multipolarity in the world necessitated that India would have to take a definite stand, and even take “risks” on issues such as connectivity, maritime security, terrorism and climate change.

India’s & multi-alignment:

  • It is unquestionable that India will have an outsized role to play in regional and global governance. As the world’s largest democracy, and one of the leading economic powers, India’s status on the global high table is increasingly being institutionalised.
  • Gaining a seat on the G20, the global management table post 2008, itself reflected a shift from its usual solidarity with the G77, or the global trade union of developing countries.
  • It has simultaneously invested in institutions that have called for a greater voice for emerging powers in global governance such as BRICSand the AIIB, despite the fact that these groupings and institutions were designed fundamentally to challenge some of the biases of the liberal world order.
  • In today’s multi-conceptual world, India’s foreign policy is best described by what the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee once called ‘alignment with all’. It is fair to argue that New Delhi has evolved well beyond non-alignment to what may be dubbed ‘multi-alignment’.


  • Several reasons can be adduced for India’s shift from non-alignment to multi-alignment.
  • Undeniably, policies adopted by India since the beginning of this century had helped generate a climate of trust across the spectrum of warring nations and long-time antagonists.
  • A spirit of accommodation and constructive solutions to major regional and international challenges had also made India more acceptable to most nations. The India-U.S. Civil Nuclear Agreement in the first decadeof this century was in this respect truly the “game changer”.
  • India came to be seen as a positive, stabilising influence as far as the global and the regional environment was concerned.
  • Non-alignment clearly had no place in this milieu.

Does this mean India abandons Non Alignment:

India does not reject non-alignment in its entirety.

While it would no longer remain disentangled from difficult decisions, it would not compromise on its independence.


  1. Dehyphenation of Palestine issue on relationship with Israel.
  2. It is significant that despite multiple references by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the India-China clashes, the deaths of Indian soldiers at Galwan Valley last month, and his call for India and the U.S. to jointly “counter” China, the government has rightly chosen not to raise its tensions with China in any forum other than bilateral talks with Beijing.
  3. Equally significant is the government’s outreach to Moscow. This included a visit by Defence Minister and the participation of External Affairs Minister in the Russia-India-China trilateral last month, and the External Affairs Minister’s comments that India should also seek to build coalitions with “middle powers”, such as the European Union and Japan.

This is evident that India retains its policy independence while maintaining close relationship with other nations.

  • More importantly, India has “never been part of an alliance system, nor will it ever be”.
  • Even the U.S. must look beyond its present alliances, and engage with more multilateral arrangements.
  • Non-alignment worked for India during the Cold War era between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. However, the fact that India and China share a land boundary would always be a factor in a “new cold war” between the U.S. and China.
  • The assertion of India’s strategic independence and resistance to joining any alliance comes as a timely reminder amid speculation that tensions with China will push India into a stronger clinch with Washington, which is on its own collision course with Beijing.

Source:”The Hindu”.


India has over the years moved from non – alignment to one of multi-alignment. What has necessitated such a change? Discuss.