India is on the high table, but is taking us along: Global South hails Delhi’s leadership

Sep 24, 2023 11:55 PM IST

Leaders from various countries of the global south and the UN praised India for its partnership with the UN system and its support for development projects. They see India as a voice for their aspirations and as providing help and assistance. India has filled a void in the international system where low-income and developing countries have felt ignored. The leaders called for reform of global institutions and highlighted the need to address issues like sustainable development, climate financing, and food and fuel crises. India was hailed as a trusted partner and champion of the vulnerable.

New York: If Jamaica realised during the Covid-19 pandemic that India was a friend which could be relied upon, Samoa deeply appreciates India’s development assistance over the years, including through a collaborative project with the UN system.

The 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York. (AFP)
The 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York. (AFP)

If Bhutan recalled India’s consistent support for its socioeconomic development and termed it as a stalwart of the global south, Dominica lauded Indian G20 presidency and said it was “eternally grateful” that India had extended its hands of friendship to small island developing states.

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If Mauritius was grateful for being invited as a guest country at G20 and pointed out that India wasn’t saying “bye bye” to the global south as it was going to the decision-making table but taking them along, St Lucia recalled that it had witnessed India’s championship of the global south for over four decades and Delhi was today a “trustworthy and dependable” leader.

If Guayana acknowledged that India, at every stage of its development, had sought to take the global south along, had offered tools to help, and was now using its position to the high table to give a voice to the global south, the UN General Assembly president himself said India had an “unparalleled” role in the mission for a better world and the G20 presidency was a “historic milestone” and sent a strong symbol of solidarity across the global south.

These were among the comments of leaders from countries of the global south and the UN at two events held in New York on Friday. The first was hosted by the permanent mission of India on the theme, India-UN for Global South: Delivering for Development, and focused on Delhi’s partnership with the UN system, including through a fund, in enabling development assistance projects in the global south. The second event, hosted by the Observer Research Foundation, was on the theme of “South Rising: partnerships, institutions and ideas”.

Both events illustrated that India has filled a vacuum in international system, where low income countries, developing countries, and small island developing states have felt unheard and excluded from global governance with their issues ignored. But the testimonies of foreign ministers of close to ten of these countries indicates that they see New Delhi as both articulating their aspirations and anxieties on the big stage and providing help and assistance.

When asked what constituted the global south, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said acknowledged it was “a very Indian thing” and was “ambiguous” but if you wanted to have it, you can have a clear sense of what it is. There is a shared sense of history among the countries, a majority of which have been colonised; most are geographically and physically in the south, though not all countries of the south are a part of it; and it depicted a certain mindset, a certain solidarity, a certain community. “If you are a part of the global south you know it.”

This sense of solidarity was visible on Friday in New York as India’s friends came together to call for a reform of global multilateral institutions, underscored the need to put issues of sustainable development goals, climate financing, debt, and the food, fertilizer and fuel crises on the table, and hailed New Delhi as a partner, leader, collaborator and champion of the most vulnerable in the international system.

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    Prashant Jha is the Washington DC-based US correspondent of Hindustan Times. He is also the editor of HT Premium. Jha has earlier served as editor-views and national political editor/bureau chief of the paper. He is the author of How the BJP Wins: Inside India's Greatest Election Machine and Battles of the New Republic: A Contemporary History of Nepal.

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