What is meant by the term 'North-South divide? What attempts have been made since 1980 to close the gap between North and South, and how successful have they been?

In 1950s many new states were created either by breakdown of European Empire or  newly independent countries emerged. These newly formed states were called as Third World. The First World consists of capitalist countries and the Second World consists communist countries. When they became independent, they were undeveloped or underdeveloped. Economically they were poor and contained 70% of World’s population. There was lack of food in Third world countries which was responsible poor health condition and high death rate.
In 1980, international group of politicians under the chairmanship of Willi Brandt, made a report known as Brandt report on the problems faced by Third World. In the report the world was divided into two parts, North and South. The North included the developed nations of North America, Europe, USSR, Japan etc. and the south included most of the Third World. The report also conclude that the North was getting richer and south was getting poorer. The gap was in terms of calorie intake and GNP.
Attempts to close the gap:

  • The North decided to give 0.7% of their national income by 1985 and 1% by 2000 to the third world countries.
  • World Development Fund was set up in which decision making would be equally shared among the lenders and borrowers unlike IMF and World Bank.
  • International energy plan was to be made.
  • Proposal to make International Food Programme and a campaign to improve agricultural techniques in south.

The attempts did not result in the closing of the gap as many North countries did not contribute the decided amount toward the development of third world countries. There were famines in African countries in mid 1980s and the crisis seemed worsening for third world countries.

Question for UPSC Mains:
What is meant by the term 'North-South divide? What attempts have been made since 1980 to close the gap between North and South, and how successful have they been?

Published: March 21, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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