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Independent and Non-aligned? South Asian Youth and Student Groups, Cultural Encounters and International Engagements beyond the Cold War Blocs

Franziska Roy

This project grapples with the contradictions and dissonances of Cold War confrontations by focussing on youth and student groups in the newly independent states, India and Pakistan. While India competed with China for a pre-eminent position as spiritual leader of anti-colonial liberation movements, Pakistan was a close ally of America during the height of the Cold War.
The activities of youth and student groups in these states reflect the challenges of negotiating the complicated field of force in which the two blocs competed for the loyalty of the Third World through regimes of aid and advice, as well as concerns over nation-building and a developmental agenda, citizenship ideals and internal political struggles. This cultural lens is one of the few possible approaches since most of the archive of both states remains classified.
The project therefore looks at the activities of these groups, some of whom were part of international organisations such as the World Federation of Democratic Youth, the International Union of Students and the World Assembly of Youth who acted as (sometimes unwitting) Western or Soviet front organisations.