Context- The article discusses India’s aspirations to lead the “Global South,” comprising
developing nations not aligned with traditional Northern Hemisphere powers. India seeks to
offer an alternative to Chinese dominance and Western patronage, aiming to enhance its global
influence and represent shared concerns of developing nations.
What is the Global South?
- As per the definition provided by University of Virginia, the Global South was
traditionally defined as economically disadvantaged nations, an alternative to the “Third
World”. Following are presently accepted features of Global South.
- Beyond Geography: It’s now a term for areas affected by capitalist globalization,
regardless of actual location. For example, there can be “Souths” in the geographical
- Shared Experience: It represents a shared experience of subjugation under global
capitalism. The term captures the collective resistance against global capitalist forces,
reminiscent of cold war discourses.
- Essentially, it’s an evolving term reflecting complexities in global power and economy.
What grievances does the Global South hold?
- Pandemic Response: The Global South felt neglected during the COVID-19 crisis. While
northern countries had ample vaccines, many developing nations struggled without.
- Economic Setbacks: Post the pandemic, many countries in the Global South faced
economic hardships. They accumulated debt but couldn’t recover the growth they lost
- Effects of Global Politics: The instability caused by events like the Russian invasion of
Ukraine and the subsequent Western sanctions affected the Global South, especially in
terms of food and fuel.
Why is India championing the Global South?
- Alternative to China: India wants to offer an alternative to countries caught between
Chinese dominance and Western influence. This positions the Global South as the
developing world excluding China.
- Increase Global Influence: By leading the Global South, India seeks to elevate its global
status. This aligns with its ambition to be recognized as a “Vishwaguru” or world leader.
- Address Common Grievances: India aims to voice the shared concerns of the Global
South. For instance, the disparity in vaccine distribution during the pandemic saw the
North getting vaccinated multiple times over, while the South struggled.
- Bolster Partnerships: Initiatives like the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor (IMEEC)
showcase India’s strategy. By using European funds, American security, and its goodwill,
India seeks to strengthen relationships with other nations.
What challenges does India face in this role?
- Resource Limitations: Unlike China, which offers benefits through trade and projects like
the Belt and Road Initiative, India lacks such vast resources. India’s primary asset is its
- Balancing Influence: As India’s influence grows, it needs to ensure that it remains seen as
a friend and not a dominator. This is crucial to avoid situations where its leadership
could be viewed negatively.
- Positive Image Maintenance: The situation in Maldives serves as a reminder. India’s high
profile there turned into a disadvantage during a recent election.
- Competition with China: China sees itself as the leader of the developing world and
expects their support. India’s championing of the Global South challenges this
assumption, potentially leading to geopolitical friction.
- Delivering Tangible Benefits: India must provide real, tangible benefits to its partners,
not just symbolic gestures or promises.