This time the world's largest political jamboree is going to Egypt's resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh. The largest grouping of countries outside the UN system, calling itself as Non-Aligned Movement or acronymically NAM, meets every three years at the level of heads of state and government. In keeping with its well-preserved tradition, the NAM Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh will be repetitively loaded with a heavy agenda and jaded with high-sounding speeches full of rhetoric but pathetically empty in substance. Nothing earth-shaking or fate-making will come out of this yet another global carnival to change the political or socio-economic scene of the developing world that NAM so proudly claims to represent but which remains desperately poor and hopelessly underdeveloped. The end-product of this 15th NAM Summit will be the same old voluminous declaration called "Final Outcome Document" which this time is expected to inflate into nearly five hundred paragraphs compared to less than three hundred adopted in Havana at the 14th NAM Summit. At the end of the Summit, everybody will join in a profuse vote of thanks to Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak for the lavish hospitality and for steering the deliberations with remarkable sagacity and skill, and for making the world a better place to live and enjoy in the name of its poor and downtrodden people. Egypt's Hosni Mubarak will surely deserve extra compliments for being the longest ever-surviving "democratically" elected head of state in the developing world. He is seen as the beacon of light for NAM's "democratic" leaders who envy his popularity and look at him as a model for emulation. No wonder the NAM heads of state and government, inspired by their host's example, will be reaffirming their resolve to defend and consolidate "democracy as a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social, and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their life." Interestingly, all NAM members claim to be "democracies" to the core though they may be using different systemic titles which include kingdoms, emirates, sultanates and republics. But the reality is that very few NAM members can genuinely be categorised as democracies. India no doubt tops this paltry list with singular distinction. What after all is NAM? As part of the decolonization process, the newly emergent nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America determined not to be part of one bloc or the other launched in 1961 what came to be formally known as Non-Aligned Movement or NAM with the purpose of evolving, free of superpower influence, their common and independent position on the whole range of global political and economic issues, including colonialism and liberation struggles. Since its inception, the NAM played a crucial and highly visible political role in representing the interests of developing countries, particularly in the eradication of colonialism, supporting struggles for liberation and self-determination, the pursuit of world peace and the search for a more equitable and just global order. As a movement, the NAM professed neutrality between the two blocs in that intensely bipolar world and its members vowed to pursue independent policies based on common approach in international relations. But things did not change for them. The NAM, now comprising 118 members, represents over 60 percent of world's population and nearly two-thirds of UN's membership. Their numerical strength has no doubt been a major factor in decision-making at the UN. But this numerical clout has remained inconsequential because of the unbridgeable gap between the "power to decide" and the "power to implement" global decisions. This grim reality is evident from the fate of the outcomes of major UN conferences and summits held since 1990s on various aspects of the development agenda. The Cold War has ended. East-West rivalry is no longer there but today's world still remains divided between the "West and the Rest" and as before, between two unequal halves, one embarrassingly rich and the other desperately poor. The income gap between the rich and the poor has never been wider in human history. While the West is endowed with abundance of wealth and affluence, the "Rest" which includes developing countries of all sorts and regions, encompasses the overwhelming part of humanity that languishes in poverty and backwardness. The poor and dispossessed nations, emerging from centuries of exploitation of their lands by the colonial powers find themselves totally marginalised in the global economy. With economic disparities increasing, the overwhelming majority of developing countries remains deprived of the benefits of economic growth and continues to suffer abject poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy and larger socio-economic asymmetry. The top 20 percent of the world's people, living in the richest countries account for 86 percent of world's GDP. Today's unipolarity has created a situation with very little space or sustainability for the concept of non-alignment. Some of the stalwarts and founding fathers of the non-aligned movement are now totally aligned with the unrivalled "pole of power" and have become its close allies and strategic partners. In fact, with few known exceptions, almost the entire membership of NAM is today generally obeisant to US interests. Indeed, the NAM's biggest challenge today lies in charting a new course for itself in the changed global environment. Neutrality and non-alignment are no longer the defining features of NAM which must now rearticulate its raison d'tre and redefine its role to be able to cope with the common challenges of the post-Cold War world. Unfortunately, this aspect remained unaddressed at NAM's last Summit at Havana, and is not expected to be taken up meaningfully in Sharm el-Sheikh where the final outcome will only be a rehash of the earlier declarations reiterating the traditional and somewhat archaic NAM positions on a vast array of global issues with no relevance to the new global dynamics. The role of NAM as a movement and as an organisation now acquires even greater importance. It must prepare itself as a balancing factor in the unipolar world and help promote a new system of international relations based on peace, justice, equality, democracy and development. This would require an independent and non-partisan approach among its members in international relations and their own adherence to democratic norms and peaceful co-existence. Representing the overwhelming majority of UN member-states, the NAM must now take the lead in correcting the course and conduct of global events, and also re-designate itself as the New Age Movement with no change in its acronym NAM, or else it will soon be reduced to Movement of Aligned Nations or an ever erring MAN as its new acronym. The leaders in Sharm el-Sheikh have a clear choice. Incidentally, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan are also scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the Sharm el-Sheikh NAM Summit to give final touches to the resumption of their "composite" dialogue. Hopefully, this time Manmohan Singh will be polite enough not to snub his Pakistani counterpart as he did in his Yekaterinburg encounter with Zardari. After all, in Havana in 2006, Manmohan Singh charmed General Musharraf so much that at the end of their meeting the latter was heard singing Mohabbat Zindabad. The writer is a former foreign secretary