The Voice of the Global South summit that Delhi convened recently did not produce any spectacular outcomes; it was not supposed to. The forum, however, marks an important effort by India to make global governance work for the developing nations, whose concerns tend to get a short shrift in international forums.


How is it significant?

  • The virtual forum has provided valuable inputs from the Global South that could facilitate India’s ambition to steer the G20 summit in Delhi to success later this year.
  • The forum is also about India reconnecting with a global group of nations that had fallen off the Indian foreign policy radar since the end of the Cold War.
  • Over the last three decades, Indian diplomacy’s focus has been on reordering its great power relations, bringing stability to the neighbourhood and developing regional institutions in the extended neighbourhood.
  • That 120 odd nations attended the meeting underlines the willingness across the Global South to support Indian leadership on addressing the global challenges that have had a massive impact on the condition of the many developing countries.


Current challenges for the Global South

  • The twin crises produced by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian war in Ukraine have had a devastating and disproportionate impact on the Global South.
  • The international context today is not amenable to major global initiatives. Multilateralism is now in dire straits thanks to the growing military tensions among the great powers — between Russia and China on one side and the US, Europe and Japan on the other.
  • Major power conflict has been reinforced by the breakdown of the world trading rules and the weaponisation of global finance.


What India should do?

  • India’s own past experience with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group-77 developing nations points to the real difficulty of uniting the Global South in pursuit of common goals.
  • Representing the presumed collective interests of the Global South has become harder today given the deep economic differentiation and sharp political divisions among the developing nations.
  • Sceptics at home would remind Delhi of India’s own enduring developmental challenges, despite its impressive aggregate GDP and growing economic, industrial, and technological capabilities. Given the size of its population, critics would insist that lifting India towards greater prosperity and sustainable development would automatically improve the condition of the Global South.
  • Yet, a large nation and rising power like India can’t simply be self-centred. Nor should it abandon its long-standing equities in the Global South.
  • Delhi certainly needs to contribute in more significant ways to modernising and democratising the global order. What Delhi needs is a careful balance between nationalism and internationalism, a practical sense of what is feasible in today’s world, and a well-defined crafted hierarchy of Indian priorities on the global stage.



While the future of this particular forum is not clear, the idea that India must reclaim the leadership of the developing world appears to have gained much currency in Delhi. Although the government might be aware of the dangers of one’s reach exceeding its grasp, the foreign policy discourse in Delhi is drifting towards exuberance about India’s plans to reorient the G20 and take charge of the Global South.


SourceThe Indian Express


QUESTION – The holding of the ‘Voice of Global South’ summit points towards a realisation in New Delhi that it must reclaim the leadership of the developing world. Do you agree? Comment.