In international politics, the group of states sharing the peacetime policy of avoiding political or economic affiliations with major power blocs. At its beginning the nonaligned movement consisted primarily of Asian and African states that were once colonies of the Western powers and were wary of being drawn into a new form of dependence by the West or by the communist bloc. Founded by Jawaharlal Nehru, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and others, the movement held its first official meeting in 1961 in Bandung, Indon.; 25 countries attended. Meetings have since been held on a three-year schedule. While the Soviet Union existed, the movement tended to seek development assistance from both the U.S. and the Soviet Union but to refrain from forming political or military alliances with either country. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the nonaligned movement has been chiefly concerned with debt forgiveness and with development of fairer trade relationships with the West. By the early 21st century the movement had more than 110 members.
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The term "Non-Alignment" itself was coined by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru during his speech in 1954 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. In this speech, Nehru described the five pillars to be used as a guide for Sino-Indian relations, which were first put forth by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. Called Panchsheel (five restraints), these principles would later serve as the basis of the Non-Aligned Movement. The five principles were:
Jawaharlal Nehru's concept of nonalignment brought India considerable international prestige among newly independent states that shared India's concerns about the military confrontation between the superpowers and the influence of the former colonial powers. New Delhi used nonalignment to establish a significant role for itself as a leader of the Third World in such multilateral organizations as the United Nations (UN) and the Nonaligned Movement. The signing of the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation between India and the Soviet Union in 1971 and India's involvement in the internal affairs of its smaller neighbors in the 1970s and 1980s tarnished New Delhi's image as a nonaligned nation and led some observers to note that in practice, nonalignment applied only to India's relations with countries outside South Asia.
The end of the Cold War left the Nonaligned Movement without its original raison d'être, and its membership became deeply divided over international disputes, strategy, and organization. During the 1992 Jakarta summit, India took a middle position between countries favoring confrontation with developed nations on international economic issues, such as Malaysia, and those that favored a more cooperative approach, such as Indonesia. Although New Delhi played a minor role compared with Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta on most issues facing the summit, India formulated the Nonaligned Movement position opposing developed countries' linkage of foreign aid to human rights criteria.
India also is a founding member of the Group of fifteen, a group of developing nations established at the ninth Nonaligned Movement summit in Belgrade in 1989 to facilitate dialogue with the industrialized countries. India played host to the fourth Group of Fifteen summit in March 1994. At the summit, Prime Minister Narsimha Rao and other leaders expressed concern over new trade barriers being raised by the industrialized countries despite the conclusion of a new world trade agreement.