The Rise of the Global South: A Catalyst for Collaboration and Sustainable Development

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July 14, 2023

The Rise of the Global South: A Catalyst for Collaboration and Sustainable Development

ISO sustainable cocoa standard nears completion: Continued ‘misery’ for farmers, or significant progress? Photo: iStock/NLshop

Source: The News Minute


  • The unwillingness of many leading countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to align with NATO over the war in Ukraine has reignited discussions surrounding the term “Global South.” The Global South refers to countries often labeled as ‘developing,’ ‘less developed,’ or ‘underdeveloped.’
  • These nations, primarily located in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, are characterized by higher levels of poverty, income inequality, and challenging living conditions compared to the more affluent “Global North.”
  • This article aims to delve deeper into the concept of the Global South, its historical background, its significance amid the Ukrainian war, and the way forward for collaboration and sustainable development.

Historical Background:

  • The term “Global South” was coined in 1969 by political activist Carl Oglesby, who highlighted the Northern Hemisphere’s historical dominance over the countries of the Global South during the Vietnam War.
  • Previously referred to as the “Third World,” these nations witnessed a shift in terminology following the end of the Cold War and the rise of the non-aligned movement.
  • The Global South emerged as a classification based on shared histories of colonization and similar socioeconomic indicators.

Features of the Global South:

  • The Global South primarily comprises lower-income countries in Africa, Asia, and South America. Geopolitically, these nations have experienced imperialism and colonial rule. Many of them are currently undergoing the process of industrialization and have been classified as newly industrialized countries.
  • Prominent countries within the Global South include Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico, known for their large populations and growing economies.

The Significance of the Global South:

  • Cooperation within the Global South has the potential to unlock significant progress through technical and ideas exchanges, the sharing of manufacturing best practices, and more.
  • Countries like India aim to unite Global South nations to adopt an action-oriented approach, highlighting common concerns such as energy security, justice, and sustainable energy transition.
  • The rise of Asian countries like China and India challenges the notion of the North as the ideal, promoting a more inclusive global order.

Challenges for Consolidation:

  • While collaboration within the Global South holds immense potential, it faces certain challenges. The ongoing debate over climate reparations has sparked controversy, with discussions on the contributions of industrializing countries like China and India.
  • The Russia-Ukraine war has also impacted the least developed countries (LDCs), prompting closer alignment with initiatives like China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Furthermore, the dominance of the US in international affairs presents obstacles to the consolidation of the Global South.

The Way Forward:

  • To champion the Global South, India must actively engage with regional politics within the developing world. Recognizing the diversity within the Global South is crucial, necessitating tailored policy approaches that address the varying needs and capabilities of member countries.
  • India’s development partnerships prioritize consultation, outcome orientation, people-centric approaches, and respect for partner countries’ sovereignty. By distinguishing India’s approach from that of China, the Global South can avoid debt traps and promote sustainable development.

The Conclusion:

  • Collaboration between the Global South and India has the potential to catalyze advancements in various fields and foster sustainable development.
  • The Global South represents a significant force that challenges traditional power structures and promotes a more inclusive global order.
  • By addressing challenges, adopting tailored policy approaches, and prioritizing collaboration, the Global South can contribute to shaping a more equitable and prosperous world.

Mains Exam Practice Question:

Explain the concept of the Global South and discuss its significance in the context of international relations.


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