While global trade is estimated to decline. India is keeping its export numbers afloat by increasing trade with the global South. In this context, examine the rising importance of the global south in geopolitics and India’s response to it.

The global trend is going through a tough time with growth volumes dropping to 1% in 2023 according to WTO. However, India is diversifying its exports and increasing trade ties with the global South.

Global South:

  • The term global south does not refer to the geographical south, infact  most of the global South is within the northern hemisphere.
  • The term is used to describe a grouping of countries along socio-economic and political characteristics – broadly regions of Latin America, Asia, Africa and Oceania.
  • It is also analogous to ‘3rd world’ and ‘periphery’ that denote regions outside Europe and North America, mostly low income and often politically or culturally marginalized countries.
  • These countries are newly industrialized or in the process of industrialisation, and are current or former subjects of colonialism.

Present geopolitical situation:

  • The US is trying hard to continue its hegemony in the international system.
  • The US is trying to curb the rise of China, weakening Russia.
  • The US is trying to maintain its primacy amid the Ukraine crisis by securing Europe behind its leadership, building alliances with countries that conform to its interests and values.
  • Rise of China and its own agenda.
  • Russia’s assertion in geopolitics by Ukranian invasion.

Why global south advocates neutrality:

  • Countries of the global South, especially India and China are being blamed for the failing sanctions against Russia in context of the Ukraine war.
  • In reality, all these countries oppose the sanctions regime and advocate neutrality because of their dependence for energy, fuel, fertilizers, wheat, community and defense equipments on Russia.
  • Lack of trust on the west because of memoirs of west’s colonialism and recent interventions such as Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, etc.
  • Racism by the West even in the times of crisis by refusing to grant a one time exception for patents for the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • General belief among the global South that the West is unlikely to help them in need.
  • Double standards of the West.
  • Most of these countries do not perceive Russia as a major threat.
  • China’s aggressive stance – Creeping expansionism, violation of maritime zones in the South China Sea, pearl of strings, debt trap diplomacy, etc.
  • Amid such geopolitical developments, Southern countries would not like to be a part of any security or military alliances with either the West or the Russian or Chinese sides.

India’s response:

  • Negotiating with multiple sites simultaneously.
  • Increased oil purchases from Russia, shrugging of Western pressure.
  • Military logistics exchange memorandum of agreement with the US.
  • International North South transport corridor connecting Russia and India via Central Asia and Iran.
  • Maintaining good ties with the US as well as Russia.
  • Bypassing the dollar in bilateral trade with Russia and 23 other countries via currency swap arrangements.

Way ahead:

Neutrality and strategic autonomy is the way ahead for the global South. The need of the hour is the global South voices collectively for the larger concerns on existential threats from climate change, ecological devastation, inequalities and increasing military station.


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