Vision of Bandung



By: E.A. Vidyasekera


Holding of the Bandung conference in 1955 was a landmark event in the history of modern world.



This was a time when revolutionary changes were taking place in the countries of Asia and Africa. India and several other countries were freed from colonial yoke.


So was China liberated from a protracted internal war against the reactionary rule of the Chiang - Kai- Shek government Indonesia just attained its independence from the Dutch rule.


In the African continent president Nasser of Egypt has taken the power after overthrowing the monarchy.


Nevertheless, the rest of Africa was under colonial rule and the liberation movements were spreading fast against colonial rule.


It is in this background that the five independent countries in South Asia -India, Burma, Pakistan, Ceylon and Indonesia assembled in Colombo in 1954 to be known as Colombo powers. This group of countries took a historic decision to convene a larger conference comprising Afro-Asian countries in Bandung in 1955, as a part of a movement to bring together African and Asian countries for a new vision and aspiration for a dynamic movement to rebuild new nations.


At the Bandung conference, President Gamal Abdul Nasser one of the dynamic leaders of the resurgent Africa observed as follows:

"It is my deep conviction that the co-operation among the Asian - African Nations can play a dominant role in the lessening of the present international tension and the promotion of world peace and prosperity.


At this time when the United Nations passes through what I may call a crisis, the conference bears a special responsibility, that is to restore to the people of the world by practical steps and concerted action their faith in the reality of international justice and the workability of international cooperation.


All over the world there is a growing sense of insecurity the fear of war has been aggravated by the development of mass destructive weapons capable of effectively to annihilation".

The stakes are high in terms of the very survival of mankind. Although sixty years have passed, the sentiments expressed by President Nasser are relevant even today as we see the continued conflicts and terrorism eroding the peace in the world.


On the other hand prime minister Nehru's report to the Indian parliament on the outcome of the Bandung is equally valid today in building new independent nations- Nehru specially emphasized the importance of building independent economic and developing the cultural issues when he referred to the separate committees that were set up at the Bandung conference as a new vision. "in the economic field he pointed at the importance of technical assistance, establishment of a special United Nations fund for Economic Development, stabilization of commodity trade and prices through bilateral and multilateral arrangements, increased processing of raw materials, study of shipping and transport problems establishment of national and regional banks and insurance companies, development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, and exchange of information and ideas on matters of mutual interest."


It is heartening to note that some of these projects have already achieved but many more things are yet to be done, in the field of cultural relations with the newly liberated countries of Africa, it was India who had initiated in providing scholarships to study in Indian universities especially in science and technology. India was opened to the many African students to pursue their higher education in Indian universities. India had made remarkable developments especially in the field of education even during Colonial rule.


India was one of the first countries to recognize the establishment of the peoples' Republic of China in 1949. The friendship between the two giants is Asia - China and India was based on what is known as the "pancha seela" principles, the five participles of peaceful co-existence. These five principles were accepted as the corner stone of the Bandung spirit and was extended to ten principles. It was precisely on Nehru's initiative that Prime Minister Chou-En- Lai was invited to the Bandung conference. Therefore Bandung conference also helped China to establish closer relations with many African Countries.


Bandung conference took the initiative of ereating a mechanism to assist the liberation movement in Africa in particular. It was a time when the Vietnam war was at a zenith with south Vietnam still under partial occupation.


The liberation movement in South Vietnam established a revolution government which too participated at the Bandung as a legitimate government of South Vietnam. The independent countries in Asia, such as India recognized the South Vietnam liberation movement and came forward to provide assistance. The spirit of Bandung was to establish a viable third force as against bipolarity between capitalist and socialist camps. It was this spirit which assisted in the establishment of AAPSO in Cairo in 1958 after a conference held in Cairo under the initiative of president Gamal Abdul Nasser with Cairo as the heads office of AAPSO.


The five Colombo powers – India, Indonesia, Burma, Pakistan and Ceylon took the initiative of ending the India-China war, as it met in Bogor, Indonesia at the invitation of president sukarno. This meeting was historic as it decided to convene the conference of Afro- Asian countries. Conference was to be based on the five principles of peaceful co-existence as envisaged by Nehru and Chon - En - Lai in settling the India- China relations on border issues. Apart from the five countries twenty-six countries attended the conference. While the western countries tried to denigrate this conference as a non - starter but the rest of the world hailed it as a landmark in the modern history.


AAPSO policy was based on the spirit of Bandung. On the other hand, the Bandung conference took the initiative in organizing a new movement of Africa - Asia and Latin American countries known as the Non Aligned Movement which met in 1961 in Belgrade at the invitation of President Tito of Yugoslavia which goes to history as the first Non Aligned Summit.


Both AAPSO and the NAM were based on the Bandung principles. While NAM was the official organization representing non-aligned countries, AAPSO represents the civil society movement as people's organization. Recognizing the important role that a civil society movement could play in the peace and solidarity movement NAM extended observer status to AAPSO which was always invited for both NAM summit and ministerial meeting. AAPSO was able to provide meaningful inputs to enrich the NAM organization. So that number of NAM countries increased over the years to be the strongest contingent in the United Nations representation. Although NAM was a formidable force at the early stages, later these meetings became more routine. The role played by some of the leading countries of the NAM movement, had undergone considerable change over the years, sometimes at the erosion of the founding principles of Non Alignment and Bandung spirit.


Bandung conference adopted several resolutions for the benefit of the emerging countries from colonialism.


Among then the notable we could be classified under the following heads:


1- Economic cooperation especially among the Afro - Asian countries and extended to Latin America later.
2- Technical Assistance to the most needy countries to overcome their backwardness.
3- Formation of a U.N fund for Economic Development.
4- Stabilizing commodity trade enlarges both bilateral and multilateral trade.
5- To take collective action to diversity export trade.
6- Intra - regional trade and transit trade to avoid monopoly of the rich countries.
7- Shipping and developing shipping lines which include freight rates.
8- Establishment of National and Regional Banks.
9- Exchange of information.
10- Atomic Energy for peaceful use.


Cultural cooperation


1- Development of national culture.
2- To create awakening of the peoples culture. (it is in this connection that on AAPSO's initiative international organization, were setup for writers, women, youth and lawyers).
3- Mutual cultural exchanges were developed to understand each other well including translation of literature.
4- Helping the education of backward countries. India specially agreed to provide scholarship to study in Indian universities for African students.


Human Rights and Self- Determination


Bandung conference fully supported the U.N charter on Human Rights and Self- Determination. Universal declaration of Human Rights was a base on which countries need to pursue.


It strongly condemned the racial segregation especially in South African racist regime.


Also as issue of dependent people and to help them to achieve independence ultimately leading to promotion of world peace, cooperation and solidarity.


Future of NAM and Bandung Vision


The future vision of the Bandung need to be discussed in relation to the rapid changes that takes place in the global environment. Bandung was borne in a different era under different historical situation. The world has made a long march since 1955. But the philosophy enunciated at the Bunding was not static and more creative. Hence it fits into the present and future world as a dynamic philosophy.


On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Bandung a special meeting of states of Africa and Asia held in Jakarta it was agreed unanimously to set up a mechanism of economic cooperation between African and Asian states. There were several meetings between experts on these field were held and discussed ways and means of implementing them for the well being of the people of both continents. This project was further elaborated at NAM Summit held in Durban, South Africa. This has helped for example for India to launch India-Africa cooperation, and China – Africa co-operation.


Under these agreements there was transfer of technology to African Countries by rapid setting up of infrastructure such as railways and also hospitals, exchange of more expertise. A large number of Chinese are now working in African countries after this programmes. This has enabled African countries to march forward in their progress, with high growth rate.