Global South

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    Recently, the Indian External Affairs Minister said that India would be the “voice of the Global South, that is otherwise under-represented in such forums”.

    About Global North and Global South: 

    • Global North refers loosely to countries like the US, Canada, Europe, Russia, Australia and New Zealand
    • Global South includes countries in Asia, Africa and South America. 
    • Why is it in the news now?
      • The economic emergence of some of these South countries, such as India and China, in the last few decades. 
      • Many consider the world to now be multipolar rather than one where the US alone dominates international affairs. 
      • The progress achieved by many Asian countries is also seen as challenging the idea that the North is the ideal.

    Need for the ‘Global North’ and the ‘Global South’

    • Easier analysis: For a long time in the study of international political systems, the method of categorising countries into broad categories for easier analysis has existed. 
      • The concepts of ‘East’ and ‘West’ is one example of this, with the Western countries generally signifying greater levels of economic development and prosperity among their people, and Eastern countries considered as being in the process of that transition.
      • Another similar categorisation is of First World, Second World and Third World countries, referring to countries associated with the Cold war-era alliances of the US, the USSR, and non-aligned countries, respectively.
    • Change and clear names were required: In the post-Cold War world, the First World/Third World classification was no longer feasible, because when the Communist USSR disintegrated in 1991, most countries had no choice but to ally at some level with the capitalist US – the only remaining global superpower.
      • The East/West binary was seen as often perpetuating stereotypical thinking about African and Asian countries. 
    • Terms did not explain the real condition of the countries: The idea that some countries were ‘developed’ while others were not was thought to be too wide a classification, inadequate for accurately discussing concerns.
      • Categorising incredibly diverse countries into a monolith was felt to be too simplistic.
    • Old names for present times, not working: Some so-called developing countries have come so far that it’s fair to say they have developed. A handful of failed states are hardly developing at all. Most countries are somewhere in the middle.

    World Systems Approach

    • It was introduced by sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein in 1974, emphasising an interconnected perspective of looking at world politics.
    • There are three major zones of production:
      • Core, 
      • Peripheral and 
      • Semi-peripheral.
    • The core zones reap profits, being the owners of cutting-edge technologies – countries like the US or Japan. 
    • Peripheral zones, on the other hand, engage in less sophisticated production that is more labour-intensive. 
    • In the Semi peripheral (middle) are countries like India and Brazil.

    How is Global South an upgrade on previous terms?

    • Better term for similar countries:
      • They are arguably more accurate in grouping countries together, 
      • Measures similar in terms of wealth, indicators of education and healthcare, etc. 
      • Most have a history of colonisation, largely at the hands of European powers.
    • Exclusion: 
      • This classification trains more focus on the Global South. 
      • Region’s historical exclusion from prominent international organisations – such as from the permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council. 
      • As bodies like the UN and the IMF are involved in major decision-making that affect the world in terms of politics, economy and society, the exclusion is seen by these countries as contributing to their slower growth.

    Cause of Inequalities in different categorisation

    • different levels of health and education; 
    • The nature of a country’s economy and its industrial sectors; 
    • International trading policies and access to markets; 
    • How countries are governed and international relationships between countries; 
    • Conflict within and between countries;
    • A country’s vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change. 

    Criticism of the classification

    • The term is too broad: 
      • The problem of proper naming is still not resolved.
      • North countries paying for funding green energy, having historically contributed to higher carbon emissions, many in the Global North have objected to China and India’s exclusion from this, given their increasing industrialisation.
    • Is the objective different from previous classifications?
      • There is also the question of whether the South simply aims to replace the North and the positions it occupies, again continuing a cycle in which a few countries accumulate crucial resources. 

    Way Ahead

    • In this multipolar world, the whole North and South needs to come together to fight the issues of developed and developing countries and promote the East like the West.

    Source: IE