India rallies support for Global South ahead of G-20 meetings

India's PM Narendra Modi is attending a two-day virtual summit of as many as 120 developing countries from the Global South. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI – India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi rallied support for the developing nations of the Global South that are grappling with economic hardships ranging from rising oil prices to shortages in food and fertiliser.

“As far as India is concerned, your voice is India’s voice. Your priorities are India’s priorities,” Mr Modi said on Thursday at the start of a two-day virtual summit of as many as 120 developing countries.

“People of the Global South should no longer be excluded from the fruits of developments.”

The Voice of Global South meeting is one of the ways India is looking to build a pressure group as it takes over the chair of the Group of 20 nations this year. 

“India has always stood for a greater role for developing countries in determining our common future,” Mr Modi said at the summit.

“In the 21st century, global growth will come from countries of the South.”

In recent years India has actively sought closer ties with the US and its Western allies to counter an economically and militarily assertive China.

This has often come at the expense of its engagement with developing countries.

New Delhi is now looking to fix that balance, especially as it also faces a hit from soaring commodity prices, especially in the aftermath of Russia’s war in Ukraine. 

“India, as a developing country, is more concerned about the rising prices and shortage of fertiliser, fuel and food,” Mr Sushant Singh, a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research and guest lecturer at Yale University, said.

“The G-20 provides a platform to India to raise the voices of these countries, and increase its bargaining power and standing in the grouping.”

The two-day summit will have eight ministerial meetings covering finance, energy, environment, trade and commerce, education and foreign affairs. A separate session will focus on generating ideas for India’s G-20 presidency.

“Over the last few decades, the South’s declining importance in the West’s priority list has led to the under-representation of Asia, Africa and South America in international forums,” Ms Shibani Mehta, who studies India’s diplomacy at Carnegie India, said.

She added that these issues will also figure prominently in future G-20 summits in Brazil and South Africa. BLOOMBERG

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