Whither India?

What has happened to the “Third World,” that was supposed to have been the non-aligned alternative to the “First World” (the USA, Britain, France, etc.) and the “Second World” ( Soviet Union, China, Cuba, etc.)?  Well, the Communist world collapsed (there is now only N. Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and China in that general category), and the Third World has undergone a metamorphosis.

Originally India and Egypt were the mainstay of the Third World bloc, with many Central and South American, African and Asian countries such as Indonesia that were former colonies, that were supposed to be non-aligned either with the Capitalist West or the Communist East.  But, most of the former members have either fallen by the wayside and joined, albeit tentatively, the First World, such as Brazil or S. Africa, or have segued into a Muslim bloc consisting of the 57 Muslim nations (from Morocco in the west to Indonesia in the east) that constitute a permanent anti-Israel bloc in the UN.

India is in fact the third largest Muslim nation on earth, after Indonesia and Pakistan, having a 15% minority that nevertheless amounts to ca. 180 million Muslims.  But, India is blocked from being a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference because of the Kashmir problem, since Kashmir is predominantly Muslim and is split between India and Pakistan, although both claim all of it.   A further demise of the Third World non-aligned movement has been signaled by the good relations between India and Israel, especially in the defense areas, since both have mainly Muslim enemies, Pakistan and the Arabs, respectively.  There is no doubt that Israel and India, both achieving independence from Britain in 1948, have a lot in common.

But, India’s leadership of the non-aligned nations meant that it automatically voted with the Muslim bloc.  That is until Narendra Modi of the right-wing BJP was elected Prime Minister in 2014.  India has responded to Israeli complaints about its anti-Israel voting pattern at the UN and in fact abstained in the UNHRC vote last week for the Report on the Gaza war of 2015 that focusses mainly on Israeli “war crimes.”   This was a historic break with the past.  Further PM Modi has announced that he will visit Israel before the end of 2015.

This represents a turning away of the non-Muslim former Third World countries from the Muslim bloc that dominates all UN human rights issues with its demonizing campaign against Israel.  No less an expert than Prof William Schabas, who was forced to resign from Chairmanship of the Committee investigating the Gaza war, has publicly stated that the UNHRC’s emphasis on anti-Israel resolutions is “unhelpful.”  Even Egypt, that is still notably anti-Israel in its rhetoric, is nevertheless forming an informal alliance with Israel in its fight against Islamist terrorism, particularly in Sinai.  Things do change, and sometimes for the better.

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