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The Global South


The term "Global South" refers to the continents of Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania collectively. It is one of a family of phrases, along with "Third World" and "Periphery," that refer to regions beyond Europe and North America that are predominantly (but not exclusively) low-income and frequently marginalised politically or culturally.

The term "Global South" denotes a shift away from a primary focus on development or cultural difference and toward an emphasis on geopolitical power relations. With the end of the Cold War, the terms "Global North" and "Global South" gained popularity in academic subjects such as international relations, political science, and development studies. The North-South language offers an alternative to the concept of "globalisation," challenging the belief in increasing cultural and societal homogenization.

The North-South paradigm has grown in sophistication in recent years. Intellectual groups such as Indian subaltern studies have stressed the history of imperial resistance.

The phrase "Global South" serves as a metaphor for more than just underdevelopment. It refers to an entire history of colonialism, neo-imperialism, and uneven economic and social transformation, all of which contribute to the maintenance of enormous disparities in living standards, life expectancy, and access to resources.

India and Global South

India has been a leader in organising the Global South countries under the UNGA, NAM, and numerous other organisations since independence. During the first decades of independence, the goal was to decolonize other Asian and Latin American countries and to aid newly independent countries in achieving autonomy while remaining neutral in the Cold War. India campaigned for a New International Economic Order in the 1960s and 1970s (NIEO).

India's development cooperation with South Asian partners has expanded in recent years, as have the formats for consolidating partnerships, which now include grant assistance, lines of credit, small development projects, technical assistance, disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, educational scholarships, and a variety of capacity building programmes.

Currently, India is an active participant in the WTO and G-20, working alongside other Global South countries such as Brazil to counter the industrialised west's dominance and unilateral decision-making. New organisations such as BRICS and BASIC are playing a critical role in organising and representing developing countries in conversation with rich countries.

Economic balances are shifting in favour of China and India, paving the way for the rise of Southern countries as major economic powers in the coming years. Simultaneously, these countries use this advantage to barter with global banking institutions for a more favourable treatment of the Global South.

The active participation of southern nations in the WTO in pursuit of agricultural subsidy reduction and other concerns, as well as the creation of the G-20 as a forum for North-South communication, demonstrate the evolving importance of emerging powers in the twenty-first century. The collapse of the WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun, September 2003, demonstrated the critical role of Third World opinion in this new global economic context.

How is India’s Cooperation different and unique

India seeks to build the sense of solidarity, empathy, and connectedness with the greater developing world that characterised the country's early outreach to South countries.

India's approach, which is consistent with the South-South paradigm, is demand-driven in all projects performed at the host countries' request. The guiding idea and philosophy are formed by the development priorities set by partner countries.

Second, India is a non-prescriptive country. That is, development assistance is not conditional on certain outcomes.

Thirdly, this development assistance is not motivated by an invasive goal; we do not attack national sovereignty or demand structural reforms, as is the case with North-South donor-recipient interactions.

Fourthly, unlike North-South cooperation, support by developing countries to fellow developing countries is entirely voluntary and is not based on historical obligation. The South-South cooperation is free of externally imposed norms derived from North-South cooperation.


The Global South is not a uniform entity in binary opposition to the developed North. This straightforward reality manifests itself when it attempts to define and characterise itself (multilaterally or unilaterally) as empowering itself within a restructured global order. India's image as a World South leader who has 'arrived' on the global stage remains contingent on its role in sustaining regional stability in South Asia and resolving internal disparities. Addressing internal and regional inequalities assumes particular importance in the context of Third World states which, ‘far from disappearing, have increased numerically and in terms of geographic spread.


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