Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Global South: Origins and Significance


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Global South

Mains level: Not Much

gobal south

Central Idea

  • The unwillingness of many leading countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to stand with NATO over the war in Ukraine has brought to the fore once again the term “Global South.”

What is Global South?

  • The term “Global South” refers to countries that are often described as ‘developing’, ‘less developed’, or ‘underdeveloped’.
  • It encompasses countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, which are characterized by higher levels of poverty, income inequality, and harsh living conditions compared to the “Global North”.

Historical Background

  • Emergence of the Term: The term ‘Global South’ was first used in 1969 by political activist Carl Oglesby, who argued that the war in Vietnam represented a history of northern “dominance over the global south”.
  • Transition from Third World: Prior to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, these countries were commonly referred to as the ‘Third World’.
  • Momentum and Context: The term gained momentum following the end of the Cold War and the rise of the non-aligned movement.

Features of the Global South

  • Lower-income Countries: The Global South primarily consists of lower-income countries located in Africa, Asia, and South America.
  • Geopolitical Background: Geopolitically, these nations have a history of imperialism and colonial rule.
  • Newly Industrialized Status: Many of these countries are in the process of industrialization and have been described as newly industrialized.
  • Prominent Countries: Prominent countries within the Global South include Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico, known for their large populations and economies.

Need for Classification

  • Critique of Earlier Terms: The East/West binary and the categorization of countries as developed/developing were criticized for perpetuating stereotypes and favoring Western ideals.
  • Cold War Context: The First World, Second World, and Third World classifications were associated with Cold War alliances.
  • Broad and Inclusive Classification: The term ‘Global South’ provides a broader classification based on shared history of colonization and similar socioeconomic indicators.

Global South amid Ukrainian War

  • South-South Cooperation: South-South cooperation has emerged as countries like India and China challenge the dominant global order led by the US.
  • Questioning the North as the Ideal: The rise of Asian countries questions the notion of the North as the ideal.
  • Criticism of Classification: The classification of the Global South has been criticized for its broadness and concerns about resource accumulation, as well as the neglect of Africa.

Significance of the Global South

  • India’s Role: India aims to unite Global South countries to adopt an action-oriented approach.
  • Potential for Progress: Cooperation within the Global South can unlock significant potential for progress, including technical and ideas exchanges, sharing of manufacturing best practices, and more.
  • Common Concerns: Energy security, justice, and sustainable energy transition are common concerns for the Global South, which India aims to highlight.

Challenges for Consolidation

  • Debate over Climate Reparations: The ongoing debate over climate reparations has triggered controversy, as some argue that China and India should contribute given their increasing industrialization and historical carbon emissions.
  • Impact of Russia-Ukraine War: The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has impacted the least developed countries (LDCs) and prompted them to align more closely with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Dominance of the US: Despite the shift to a multipolar world, the US still dominates international affairs, posing challenges for the consolidation of the Global South.

Way Forward

  • Active Engagement: India must actively engage with regional politics within the developing world to champion the Global South.
  • Tailored Policy Approach: It is crucial to recognize the diversity within the Global South and develop a policy vision that addresses the varying needs and capabilities of its member countries.


  • Collaboration between the Global South and India can lead to significant advancements in various fields.
  • India’s development partnerships prioritize consultation, outcome orientation, people-centric approaches, and respect for the sovereignty of partner countries.
  • Distinguishing India’s approach from that of China can help avoid debt traps and financially unsound undertakings, promoting sustainable development within the Global South.

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