Even as he landed in the Cuban capital Thursday evening to attend the two-day summit of the 116-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) beginning Friday, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described NAM as a "state of mind" and said the movement must live up to its new potential in a highly uncertain, insecure world.
He said NAM is as relevant today as it was before as "Non-Alignment is a state of mind - to think independently about our options to widen our developmental choices."
Manmohan Singh was speaking to Indian journalists accompanying him on his trip that brought him from Brazil, where he concluded a three-day visit, to Cuba.
He said soon after the end of the Cold War there was a lot of complacency in the Western world "that we have reached the end of history, that capitalism had proved its superiority".
"And now we find a new anxiety in the world how to deal with the problem of terror, the role of the non-state actors. The future of humanity is being increasingly questioned and people are talking about a clash of civilizations, people have been talking of evil empires."
He said NAM, with 116 countries representing all regions of the world, "can help and make a constructive contribution to building a new world order free from fear, war, want and poverty", he said.
It is still uncertain whether Cuban President Fidel Castro, a legendary figure recuperating from an intestinal surgery, would attend the inaugural. But indications in the controlled media are that the 80-year-old fading revolutionary might come for a few hours and meet some selected leaders.
The summit might see some fiery speeches from the leaders of Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Malaysia, Palestine and others, representing almost half the people on the planet and two-thirds of the membership of the United Nations.
But their rhetoric might not get reflected in the final summit declaration that is decided only on the basis of consensus. India's role, said officials, would be a moderating one that would seek to steer the movement from any extreme political positions to one that focuses more on economic and trade issues and other problems like terrorism, AIDS, climate change, etc.