New Delhi: As part of its diplomatic narrative surrounding its year-long presidency of the G-20 grouping, India on Thursday announced that it would hold a virtual summit on the “voice of the global south” next week, on January 12 and 13.
On Friday, foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra announced that in a “new and unique” initiative, India will organise a virtual “Voice of Global South Summit” under the theme “Unity of Voice, Unity of Purpose”. The declared aim was for countries of the Global South to “share their perspectives and priorities on a common platform”.
“The initiative is inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas, and is underpinned by India’s philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” he added.
Kwatra noted that “more than 120 countries” have been invited to participate in the summit. However, he added that the high-level participation at the head of state or ministerial level would be from “10-20 countries”.
Incidentally, the Non-Aligned Movement, set up as a bloc of developing countries not aligned to any superpower, has a current membership of 120 countries. India had, of course, been a founding member of NAM, along with Ghana, Egypt and Yugoslavia.
Since 2014, the Indian PM has not attended any NAM summits. The only NAM meeting attended by Prime Minister Modi was to make a virtual address on the covid-19 pandemic in May 2020.
At the special briefing, Kwatra was questioned about the need for a new grouping for the ‘global south’, when India had largely ‘ignored’ NAM over the last eight years.
“….(from) what we are doing under Voice of Global south summit, for you to insinuate that India will have reduced role, proactive participation in NAM or G-77, I don’t think would be correct,” Kwatra asserted to a media query.
He demurred when asked whether invitations would be extended to Pakistan, China or Ukraine. “As we go ahead, we will share the list of confirmed participants,” said Kwatra.
The foreign secretary noted that the summit would be “an opportunity for non-G20 members to share their perspectives which we could try to put forward in the deliberations in the G-20”. In answer to another query, Kwatra also said that this initiative should not be linked to the G-20.
The G-20 was formed by developed and developing countries as the leading platform for economic cooperation in 1999. Indonesia took over the annual presidency in 2022, marking the start of a four-year period, when major developing countries will handle the chairmanship. After Indonesia and India, Brazil and South Africa will chair G-20 in 2024 and 2025, respectively.
Just like Kwatra had claimed that summit for the global south was a ‘vision’ of Modi, Indonesia had also credited its President Joko Widodo for envisioning a G-20 presidency that “benefits not only the G20 members but also the developing countries, Small Island Developing States, and vulnerable groups”.
Following the Ukraine war, India has also repeatedly raised concerns about unequal economic hardships being faced by developing countries at various fora, from rising oil prices to shortage of fertilisers.