Introduction

How useful still is the notion of non-alignment—an article of faith with India’s foreign policy establishment which has been questioned in recent times? In a discussion with strategic affairs expert C. Raja Mohan at the Mindmine Summit in 2020, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar set the cat among the pigeons: “Non-alignment was for a specific era and a particular context … We are to grow by leveraging the international situation. And you can’t do that by staying away. The era of great caution and much greater stress on multilateral relations is behind us. We need to take risks.”[1]

Indeed, the doctrine of non-alignment was framed with reference to the Cold War, seen to have ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Today the COVID-19 pandemic is giving rise to a “new normal”, one of whose features – predating the pandemic but amplified…

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