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Beneficial Outreach

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Egypt was, with India, one of the founding nations of the Non-Aligned Movement, which sought to prevent polarisation of the world into two camps at the time of the rivalry between the US and the USSR. The movement can be credited with having played a role in preventing major, even nuclear, conflict. The inherent animosity against India that has existed for decades in the ‘Western’ camp and manifests itself even today, in various ways, is also because of this early strategic stance taken by founding fathers Pt Nehru, Egypt’s Nasser, Yugoslavia’s Tito, Indonesia’s Sukarno and Ghana’s Nkrumah. For many years the movement had relevance, which was lost when the bipolarity diminished and other factors came into play.

Now, India’s outreach to the world needs to revive the spirit of non-alignment as a cohesive and positive force at a time when fresh security challenges have emerged between the West and Russia. Unlike the past, care has to be taken that ideological inclinations do not permit the earlier slide into a ‘preference’ for one or the other side. Every issue needs to be decided on the basis of merit, keeping India’s interests in mind.

The present government, despite the attempts by vested interests to present it as ‘Islamophobic’, has rigorously promoted ties with the Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia, UAE and others, particularly in the economic field. This has perplexed many, who do not understand the pragmatism involved. Now, the net has been cast wider by the reach out to Egypt, whose President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was invited to be the Chief Guest at this year’s Republic Day parade, and a contingent of its Armed Forces given the honour of participating in the event. Knowing Prime Minister Modi, this is not just pomp and show, but a part of well-thought out strategy to build nation-to-nation bonds independent of other considerations. The goodwill earned will play a role in furthering the outreach.

It was also highlighted during Sisi’s visit that, both, India and Egypt are ancient civilisations with relations going back, at least, three thousand years, when they were major manufacturing and trading powers. At a time when many nations around the world are losing their civilisational moorings for a number of reasons, a renewed vigour in India-Egypt relations in the modern context would prove beneficial not just to the two countries, but also the entire region. That was the original spirit and purpose of the non-aligned movement.