India’s G20 Presidency: Championing the Global South

Source– The post is based on the article “India’s G20 Presidency: Championing the Global South” published in The Indian Express on 6th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- International relations

Relevance– Global south and India

News– The article explains the renewed interest of international politics for the global south. It also explains India ‘s new perspective for the global south.

What are different perspectives on India’s approach for the global south?

Some people in India welcome the return to ideas like non-alignment and Third World solidarity. These influenced foreign policy of India in the past.

US and Europe, wonder if Delhi is returning to anti-Western orientation.

India’s eastern partners too are apprehensive that Delhi might privilege the “Global South”. It may downgrade the new forums like the BRICS built in recent years to promote a multipolar world.

Others think that  the claim to champion the Global South are not in consonance with India’s idea of a vasudhaiva kutumbakam.

What are the changing realities of new world order?

Many of the old constructs from the second half of the 20th century were framed around the axes of West versus the East and the North versus the South. They are not aligned with the ground realities.

Consider the example of China. It has long been viewed as part of the East and the South. But, now it is the second largest economic and military power and sits at the top of the global hierarchy and has deep ties with the West.

By the 1980s, most countries had moved away from the so-called third path to economic development. They began to adopt the ideas of liberalization and globalization.

India also restructured its economy and foreign policy. India continued to participate in the NAM summits and various affiliated forums in the United Nations. Promoting Third World solidarity was not a priority for India.

What are the new perspectives of great power for the global south?

World is entering into an era of renewed great power competition for the Global South.

China sees the Global South as a huge economic and geopolitical opportunity. Its strategy has culminated into the Belt and Road Initiative. China’s new global weight is not limited to the economic domain, but also envelops the cultural, political, technological, and the military.

China is eager to exploit the setbacks to US policies in the Middle East. He will also participate in a Sino-Arab summit. His visit will highlight the growing convergence between the Arab quest for strategic diversification away from the West and Beijing’s determination to have its footprint in Arab.

US is making special efforts to reconnect with the Global South. Last June, the US sought to inject new life into the summit with the Latin American countries. Washington is hosting the African leaders to regain some influence in the dynamic continent. Over the last two years, it has also intensified the engagement with the South East Asian and South Pacific countries.

Europe has begun to offer alternatives to Belt and Road by putting down serious money for infrastructure development. If Europe ever becomes a geopolitical actor, it will be compelled to take a more strategic view of the non-Western world.

What is India’s position with regard to the global south?

India too has risen in the international hierarchy. Although it is by no means a pole in its own right, its room for international activism has grown significantly. It can put its weight behind the issues of special concern to the developing world amidst the challenges presented by deglobalisation, the pandemic and climate change.

India’s objective is not to rebuild a global trade union against the North. India is eager to become a bridge between the North and the South by focusing on practical outcomes rather than returning to old ideological battles.

In recent years, Delhi has often talked of itself as a “South Western power” that is capable of building deep partnerships with the US and Europe and at the same time, championing the interests of the Global South.

What is the way forward for India to champion the cause of the global South?

India must also come to terms with the fact that the Global South is not a coherent group and does not have a single shared agenda. There is much differentiation within the South today in terms of wealth and power, needs and capabilities. This demands a tailored Indian policy to different regions and groups of the developing world.

Championing the Global South today would demand more active Indian engagement with the messy regional politics within the developing world.

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