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THE CONTEXT: The Honorable PM of India recently inaugurated a virtual event, “Voice of the Global South Summit”. Also, India’s recent access to G20 Presidency, has iterated the country’s role as the “voice of the Global South”, that is otherwise under-represented in global forums.
ABOUT THE VOICE OF GLOBAL SOUTH SUMMIT
- The Voice of Global South Summit is an international conference that brings together leaders, policymakers, and experts from developing countries to discuss issues of common concern and to explore ways to strengthen cooperation and collaboration among countries of the Global South.
- India hosted the summit in a bid to articulate the views of the developing countries regarding the effects of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
- The event has planned eight ministerial sessions including finance, energy, education, foreign affairs, and commerce.
- It was held under the theme – ‘Unity of Voice, Unity of Purpose’ – essentially envisages bringing together countries of the global south and sharing their perspectives and priorities on a common platform across a whole range of issues.
The major outcomes of the summit:
- The Indian Prime Minister through this event has set the stage on behalf of developing countries, many of which are united by a history of colonization.
- Offering to become the voice of the Global South, India during the event gave a new agenda to the world on behalf of the countries of the South: ‘respond, recognise, respect, and reform’.
- It was held that the world is facing unprecedented crisis of 3 “F” ‘Food, Fuel and Fertilizer’. The most acute impact of this is felt in global south. It is our endeavour to utilize the G20 presidency to give resonance to the voice of the global south.
- Calls for greater cooperation among developing countries to address common challenges, such as climate change, poverty, and inequality were taken.
- Emphasis was on the need to promote South-South cooperation to drive economic growth and development.
- Agreement on the importance of advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change were discussed.
- Discussion on the need to reform global governance structures to better reflect the interests of the Global South were held.
UNDERSTANDING THE GLOBAL SOUTH
- The Global South is a term used to describe the countries and regions of the world that are considered to be less developed and economically disadvantaged. It includes countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, among others. The concept of the Global South emerged as a response to the historical imbalances in the global economy and the need for greater equity in the distribution of power and resources.
- The significance of the Global South lies in the fact that it represents the majority of the world’s population, and its economic and political influence is growing. The Global South is also home to many of the world’s fastest-growing economies, and it has the potential to drive global economic growth and development in the future.
What is Global North and Global South?
- Global North’ refers loosely to countries like the US, Canada, Europe, Russia, Australia and New Zealand.
- This classification is more accurate as the countries share similarities in terms of wealth, indicators of education and healthcare, etc.
EVOLUTION OF THE GLOBAL NORTH AND SOUTH DEBATE
- The emergence of the Global North and South debate can be traced back to the historical and structural imbalances in the global economy and the distribution of power and resources. The roots of this debate can be traced back to the colonial era, when European powers established colonies in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to extract resources and exploit cheap labor. This resulted in the transfer of wealth and resources from the Global South to the Global North.
- After the colonial era, the newly independent countries of the Global South continued to be exploited and marginalized in the global economy. The global economic order was dominated by Western powers, who controlled the institutions and rules that governed the international economic system. This included the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, which were designed to promote the interests of developed countries at the expense of developing countries.
- The Global North and South debate gained momentum in the 1970s and 1980s, as developing countries began to demand a greater say in global governance and a more equitable distribution of power and resources. This included calls for debt relief, fairer trade policies, and greater access to technology and investment. Developing countries also began to form alliances and groupings, such as the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77, to promote their common interests in global forums.
- Presently, the Global North and South debate remains a central issue in global politics, as developing countries continue to seek greater economic and political power in the international system. The debate is also closely linked to issues of poverty, inequality, and social justice, as many developing countries struggle to achieve economic growth and development in the face of global economic imbalances.
VARIOUS INITIATIVES FOR DEVELOPMENT OF THE GLOBAL SOUTH
There are several initiatives that have been launched to support the development of the Global South, including:
- South-South Cooperation: This refers to the collaboration between developing countries to share knowledge, expertise, and resources. South-South cooperation can include initiatives such as technical assistance, capacity building, and investment.
- Official Development Assistance (ODA): This refers to financial assistance provided by developed countries to support the development of developing countries. ODA can include grants, loans, and technical assistance, and is often used to support projects in areas such as education, health, and infrastructure development.
- Climate Finance: This refers to financial assistance provided by developed countries to support developing countries in their efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Climate finance can include funding for renewable energy projects, climate-resilient infrastructure, and other initiatives that support sustainable development.
- Multilateral Development Banks: These are international financial institutions that provide loans, grants, and technical assistance to support the development of developing countries. Examples of multilateral development banks include the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the African Development Bank.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF GLOBAL SOUTH?
- Issue of Green Energy Fund: Despite Global North countries’ higher contribution towards global emissions, they are neglecting to pay for funding green energy, for which the ultimate sufferers are the least emitters – the lesser developed countries.
- Impact of Russia-Ukraine War: The Russia-Ukraine war severely affected the least developed countries (LDCs) aggravating the concerns related to food, energy and finance, thereby, threatening the development prospects of LDCs.
- China’s Interference: China is increasingly making inroads in the Global South through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for developing infrastructure, while pushing nations into debt traps.
- US Hegemony: The world is now considered to be multipolar by many but still, it is the US alone who dominates international affairs.
- Inadequate Access to Resources: Global North-South divergences have been historically characterized by major gaps in the access to resources required for crucial developmental outcomes. Industrialization, for example, has been skewed in the favour of advanced economies since the early 1960s, and no major evidence of global convergence was found in this regard.
- Impact of Covid-19: Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the already existing divides. Not only have the countries faced different challenges in dealing with the initial phases of the pandemic, but the social and macroeconomic implications being faced today have been far worse for the global South. The vulnerability of the domestic economies is far more apparent now in countries ranging from Argentina and Egypt to Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
HOW CAN INDIA BECOME THE VOICE OF GLOBAL SOUTH?
- India can be the Voice of Global South by using its position as a major developing country and member of several international organizations to advocate for the interests of the Global South.
- Advocating for a fairer and more equitable global economic order: India can use its voice in international forums to push for reforms that promote a more equitable distribution of power and resources in the global economy. This could include pushing for fairer trade policies, debt relief, and greater access to technology and investment for developing countries.
- Promoting South-South Cooperation: India can take a leadership role in promoting cooperation and collaboration among developing countries to share knowledge, expertise, and resources. This could include providing technical assistance, capacity building, and investment to other developing countries.
- Supporting initiatives to address global challenges: India can use its position to support initiatives that address global challenges such as climate change, poverty, and inequality. This could include providing climate finance to support developing countries in their efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and supporting initiatives to reduce poverty and promote social and economic development in the Global South.
- Advocating for greater representation of developing countries in global governance: India can use its voice to push for greater representation of developing countries in international organizations and decision-making processes. This could include advocating for reforms to the United Nations Security Council and other international institutions to ensure that the voices of developing countries are heard.
THE WAY FORWARD:
To promote the interests of the Global South, India and other developing countries could take the following measures:
- Increase South-South cooperation: Developing countries could work together to share knowledge, expertise, and resources to address common challenges and promote economic growth and development.
- Promote regional integration: Regional integration could help to increase economic integration and cooperation among neighboring countries, and promote intra-regional trade and investment.
- Strengthen institutions and governance structures: Developing countries could work to strengthen their institutions and governance structures to promote economic growth, reduce corruption, and enhance political stability.
- Increase access to finance and technology: Developing countries could work to increase access to finance and technology to help promote economic growth and development.
- Advocate for reform of global governance structures: Developing countries could advocate for reforms of global governance structures to better reflect the interests of the Global South and promote greater equity in the distribution of power and resources.
- Fostering dialogue and cooperation between the Global North and South: India can use its position as a bridge between the Global North and South to promote dialogue and cooperation between these two groups. This could help to reduce tensions and promote greater understanding and cooperation on issues of common concern.
THE CONCLUSION: The development of the Global South is critical for achieving a more equitable and sustainable global economic order. The Global South represents a significant portion of the world’s population, and its economic growth and development have the potential to drive global economic growth and reduce poverty and inequality. However, the development gap between the Global North and South remains significant, and there is a need for greater political will and commitment from developed countries to support the development of the Global South. By promoting the development of the Global South, we can create a more inclusive and equitable global economy that benefits everyone, and ensures a better future for generations to come.
- “India has always shared its developmental experience with our brothers of the Global South, which makes India an important lynchpin of voicing the concerns of the Global South.” In the light of this statement, elaborate on how India can become the voice of Global South?
- “The challenges of the COVID pandemic, rising prices of fuel, fertilizer and foodgrains, and increasing geopolitical tensions have impacted the developmental efforts for the Global South.” Examine.