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International Relations

Global South

  • 11 Jul 2023
  • 8 min read

For Prelims: Global South, NATO, Russia-Ukraine, BRICS, Imperialism, BRI, Developing Nations, Global North.

For Mains: Global South, its significance and Challenges.

Source: TH

Why in News?

The reluctance of many nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to support NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in the Ukraine conflict has brought the term "Global South" into focus.

What is Global South?

  • About:
    • The Global South refers to countries often characterized as developing, less developed, or underdeveloped, primarily located in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
    • These nations typically experience higher levels of poverty, income inequality, and challenging living conditions compared to the wealthier nations of the Global North.
    • The “Global North” is richer nations that are located mostly in North America and Europe, with some additions in Oceania and elsewhere.

  • From "Third World" to "Global South":
    • The term Global South was first coined in 1969 by political activist Carl Oglesby.
    • It gained momentum after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, which marked the end of the "Second World."
    • Previously, developing nations were commonly referred to as the "Third World," a term coined by Alfred Sauvy in 1952.
    • However, this term became associated with poverty, instability, and negative stereotypes propagated by Western media.
    • As a result, the term "Global South" emerged as a more neutral alternative.
  • Geopolitical and Economic Commonalities:
    • The term Global South does not have a strict geographical definition. It signifies a combination of political, geopolitical, and economic similarities among nations.
    • Many countries in the Global South have a history of Imperialism and Colonial Rule, particularly evident in African countries.
    • This history has shaped their perspectives on the relationship between the global center (Global North) and periphery (Global South) within the world political economy.

What is the Significance of Global South Today?

  • Shifting Economic and Political Power:
    • The Global South has experienced a significant shift in wealth and political visibility in recent decades. The World Bank (WB) has acknowledged a "shift in wealth" from the North Atlantic to the Asia-Pacific region, challenging conventional notions of economic power distribution.
    • Projections indicate that by 2030, three of the four largest economies will belong to Global South countries, with China and India leading the way.
  • Impact on Geopolitics:
    • The growing economic and political power of the Global South has important implications for global geopolitics.
    • Asian nations are predicted to play a significant role in what experts call the "Asian Century."
    • Additionally, there is talk of a "post-Western world" as the influence of the Global South challenges the historical dominance of the Global North.
    • These shifts signify the increasing assertiveness and influence of the Global South on the world stage.

What are the Challenges to the Development of the 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.
    • However, it is still questionable whether BRI will be a win-win situation for both parties or it will focus only on China’s Profit.
  • US Hegemony:
    • The world is now considered to be multipolar by many but still, it is the US alone who dominates international affairs.
      • The US possesses the largest economy in the world, with substantial influence over global financial markets. The U.S. dollar remains the dominant currency for international trade and is used as a reserve currency by many countries.
  • Inadequate Access to Resources:
    • Global North-South divergences have been historically characterised by major gaps in the access to resources required for crucial developmental outcomes.
    • Industrialisation, 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.

What are the Initiatives of India for Global South?

  • Indian Prime Minister announced five initiatives to support the development of other developing countries in “Voice of Global South Summit” hosted by India in January 2023.
    • The "Global South Centre of Excellence" will research development solutions and best practices which can be implemented in other developing countries.
    • The "Global South Science and Technology Initiative" aims to share Indian expertise in areas such as space technology and nuclear energy.
    • The "Aarogya Maitri" project will provide essential medical supplies to any developing country affected by natural disasters or humanitarian crises.
    • The "Global South Young Diplomats Forum" will connect young officers of foreign ministries,
    • The "Global South Scholarships" will provide higher education opportunities in India for students from developing countries.


  • The rise of the Global South as an economic and political force has challenged traditional power dynamics and brought attention to the changing global order.
  • As the Global South continues to assert itself, it reshapes geopolitics, heralding a new era where nations from Africa, Asia, and Latin America play increasingly significant roles in shaping the future of international relations.
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