India, Gaza, and the Drift from Non-Alignment
For decades after independence, India’s approach to the world was shaped by its historical experience of colonialism. But, as the Israel-Hamas war has shown, the “non-aligned” stance this produced may not be as unassailable as it once seemed.
NEW DELHI – India’s tortuous stance on the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza offers a fascinating illustration of the recent evolution of the country’s foreign policy.
For decades after independence, India’s approach to the world was shaped by its historical experience of colonialism. Having spent 200 years with a foreign country speaking for them on the world stage, Indians were unwilling to sacrifice any decision-making power in the name of either side in the Cold War. “Strategic autonomy” became an obsession, leading to the birth of “non-alignment,” or equidistance between the superpowers.
The position was more complicated than it sounds. As a leading voice for decolonization, India took a moralistic stance against imperialism and apartheid that often came across as being anti-Western, even as the country’s steadfast adherence to democratic processes and respect for diversity at home endeared it to Western liberals.