Tag: Cold war

SnapKey: Secrecy: 27th March 2019

A great many mysteries of the world have languished in secrecy for a long time. Only when the time was right they were brought out into the open for the world.

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Non-Alignment Movement

During the cold war (see my article on the cold war), amidst the high tensions between the two power blocs of N.A.T.O. (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and Warsaw pact, emerged a third side to the war. The Non-alignment movement or popularly called N.A.M. was set up with the purpose of being completely neutral and not siding with any of the two superpowers and their alliances.

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The N.A.M. was set up in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (Now in Serbia) by the five founding members, Jawaharlal Nehru (India), Josip Broz Tito (Yugoslavia), Sukarno (Indonesia), Gamal Abdel Nasser (Egypt) and Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana) in the year 1961.

Main objective of the N.A.M. was to give newly independent countries a third option, a neutral side other than the two alliances. Fidel Castro of Cuba described it as “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries” in their “struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics”. N.A.M. was a platform, through which the newly independent countries could maintain good relations with both the Capitalists and the Socialists.

Being Non-aligned did not mean isolationism, in fact it was the complete opposite of it. N.A.M. countries provided neutral ground for negotiations during the conflicts between the two super powers to maintain the peace and not let the situation get out of hand and prevent full scale war between them, which would lead to the total anhilation of the human race. It can be said that they were somewhat successful in doing so, but indirect conflicts between the two powers still prevailed and zero loss of life couldn’t be achieved.

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It was a very useful platform for the non-aligned countries to unite and fight the oppressive policies of the superpowers but it wasn’t very effective against their might. For example- The N.I.E.O (New International Economic Order) was set up witht the objective in mind to help developing countries reach economic and infrastructural prosperity. This was suppressed by the superpowers, like that of U.S.A. as it would’ve harmed their interests. Even though united, the N.A.M. members couldn’t fight against the superpowers and this particular movement of N.I.E.O. failed miserably.

India, used the Non-aligned movement to its advantage. In certain cases if it felt that it was being pressurized by one of the superpowers, it would simply tilt towards the other side. Even after this, relations with both U.S.A. and Russia have been very friendly and hasn’t been affected gravely, even during the cold war. This showed the superpowers that India couldn’t be bullied into doing something and that it was resolute. It faced quite a lot of criticism for this stance as India wouldn’t raise voice against the side it was tilted towards and was labeled as hypocritical in its policies, to which India has justified this particular stance by stating that if it comes under threat or political pressure then it has every right to look for allies and help from other countries as her national interest and safety come first.

Since the cold war ended, the Non-Alignment Movement has struggled for relevance, it took a major hit when one of its founding members, Yugoslavia, left its membership after it disintegrated and the successor states did not show much interest in the movement. The initiative which was taken by India for the N.A.M. proclaimed very well with the other foreign nations and showed that she was ready to participate in global politics and activities, it indeed strengthened her position and has left a positive image in the minds of almost all the countries that were affected by it. The next N.A.M. summit is in Venezuela, this year.

Priyamvad Rai

 

Shock Therapy

No, the article is not about the electroshock treatment mentally challenged people get.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, a number of independent states emerged from the ruins of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (U.S.S.R.). These states had their roots deep into the socialist system that had been set up by the U.S.S.R. Now that it was no more, they needed to look out for their own ambitions and agendas.

What is Shock Therapy?

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Shock Therapy, is a set of policies, that help the newly independent countries to convert their socialist authoritarian government to a capitalist democratic government. Countries which opted for Shock therapy were aided and assisted by the International Monetary Fund (I.M.F.) and the World Bank. It was either opting for Shock Therapy or survive on your own without any kind of assistance. There was no third alternative.

Speed and the amount of time taken by the Shock Therapy varied from country to country but the basic goals and direction was similar.

It mainly focuses on converting the socialist authoritarian government into a capitalist democratic government and completing removing the roots of the Soviet Union and its systems. It also meant removal of government control of the industries and services and opening them up for private companies and privatisation. In terms of agriculture, the collective system of farming that was prevalent before was removed and privatized.

The most major and drastic change that came with shock therapy was the change in the policy towards foreign relations and trade with other countries. Previously, during the Soviet Union’s rule, all of the republics that came under it had trade relations between themselves only and not with any of the Western Countries. The Shock therapy involved abolishing all Soviet Union era trade agreement between the countries and establishing new trade relations, directly with the western countries. Western countries emerged as leaders in helping and directing governments in doing so.

What were the consequences of Shock Therapy?

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Shock Therapy, however, did not lead the people into the Utopia of mass consumption society it originally promised it would. Instead it failed miserably and almost destroyed many countries, some unstable even now.

Taking Russia as the prime example, as it was the largest of the socialist states. The Shock therapy almost plunged the country into a state of instablity and division. The industries that were controlled by the government were put up for sale to private individuals and industries. These sales were carried out on basis of Market forces and not the government led industrial policies. These sales were considered as the biggest ‘garagle sale’ in the history. It virtually destroyed the industries of Russia.

The value of the Ruble also fell, along with it there was a rapid and large increase in the inflation rates, the people were pushed to their limits, lost their savings and put into poverty. The old collective system of farming had disintegrated and no alternative was there to take its place, which removed the food security that Russia had achieved. It had to import food, which was strainful to the economy and its GDP fell so hard, that its rate in 1999 was lower than that of 1989.

Also prevalent was the old system of public welfare, which too was withdrawn, consisted of government subsidies on various good and services, pushed the people even further into poverty. The intellectual manpower of the country was either affected deeply by poverty or moved out of the country, leading to almost no specialized manpower in the country. A mafia emerged in the country that started to grow and control the economic activites. Unlike during the Soviet era, post Soviet states like Russia were divided into rich and poor regions and the economic gap between the rich and the poor only kept increasing.

The development of a democratic government was not given the same importance as liberalizing economy and converting to capitalism. This was the case in many of the post-Soviet States like Russia. Constitution was designed and built in a hurry, but these states had a very powerful executive and a president that had almost all the powers. The democratically elected parliaments were relative very weak and almost had no say. Improper structure of the government led to internal political strifes among the people, civil wars and a lot of oppression of the people.

Though, as we know, states like Russia, didn’t disintegrate and they still exist. How did they manage to do so?

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Around the year 2000, the economies of these states started to revive. This happened due to the countries (Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Russia etc) started to export their natural resources. These countries were major producers of oil, minerals and natural gas. This export allowed them to revive their economies to a certain extent.

Other countries benefitted from this too. Pipelines began to be constructed on a large scale and the countries through which these pipelines ran through brought in a source of revenue as rent had to be paid for constructing the pipeline through their lands.

Along with this, some amount of manufacturing also began in the country, but it wasn’t a very major factor but it did help them bit by bit.

In conclusion, Shock therapy was not a very positive maneuvere. It always led to disruption and violence in the countries that had to adopt it. Instead of it being an option as it should have been, it was posed as an ultimatum to the countries. Do or die.

Priyamvad Rai