The Global South

The Global South

This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “The Global South: origins and significance”. The topic “The Global South: origins and significance” has relevance in the “International Relations” section of the UPSC CSE exam.


For Prelims:

What is Global South?


For Mains:

GS2: Agreements Affecting India’s Interests


Why in the news?

The Global South, composed of countries in Asia, Africa, and South America, is now asserting its political and economic influence in ways that were previously unseen in the “developing countries” and “Third World.”


What is the Global South?

  • The term “Global South” encompasses a range of countries worldwide, often characterised as “developing,” “less developed,” or “underdeveloped.” 
  • While not exclusively limited to the Southern Hemisphere, many of these countries are predominantly located in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. 
  • Generally, they exhibit higher poverty rates, greater income inequality, lower life expectancy, and more challenging living conditions compared to the wealthier nations of the “Global North.” 
  • The “Global North” primarily includes North America and Europe, with additional contributions from Oceania and other regions.



Origin of the term in Vietnam War:

The term “Global South” was coined in 1969 by political activist Carl Oglesby, who argued in the liberal Catholic magazine Commonweal that the Vietnam War represented the culmination of a long history of Northern dominance over the countries of the Global South.


Earlier term of Third World:

  • The term “Global South” gained momentum after the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union.
  • Before that, the more common term for developing nations was “Third World.”
  • “Third World” was coined by Alfred Sauvy in 1952 and referred to the developing nations, many of which were still under colonial rule at that time.
  • The term “First World” designated the advanced capitalist nations, while the term “Second World” referred to the socialist nations led by the Soviet Union. The term “Third World” 


End of the ‘Third World’:

  • The fall of the Soviet Union led to the decline of the term “Third World” in the 1990s.
  • Criticisms of “developed,” “developing,” and “underdeveloped” labels prompted the use of the more neutral-sounding term “Global South” as a replacement.


Significance of the term 


A geopolitical concept:

  • The term “Global South” does not have a purely geographical meaning. 
  • Surprisingly, the two largest countries associated with the Global South, China and India, are located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere. 
  • Instead, the term signifies a combination of political, geopolitical, and economic similarities shared among nations.


Shared similarities:

  • Countries in the Global South, particularly African nations, have predominantly experienced the impacts of imperialism and colonial domination. 
  • This history has shaped their distinct perspective on the relationship described by dependency theorists as the centre-periphery dynamic in the global political economy.


What the Future Holds: 

  • In recent years, a significant “wealth shift” has occurred, according to the World Bank, moving economic power from the North Atlantic region to the Asia Pacific. This shift challenges conventional notions of where global wealth is being generated. 
  • By 2030, it is projected that three out of the four largest economies will belong to the Global South, with China, India, the United States, and Indonesia leading the way. 
  • Already, the combined GDP of the Global South-dominated BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) surpasses that of the Global North’s G-7 club when measured in terms of purchasing power. 


Political Power:

  • Countries in the Global South are progressively asserting their influence on the global stage. 
  • Examples include China’s involvement in mediating between Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as Brazil’s efforts to promote a peace plan for ending the conflict in Ukraine. 
  • This shifting power dynamic in both economic and political realms has prompted geopolitical experts to discuss the emergence of an “Asian Century”.


Way ahead

  • The rise of the Global South and its increasing political and economic influence signifies a significant shift in the global landscape. This presents both opportunities and challenges for the future. 
  • Moving forward, it is crucial to recognize the Global South’s contributions, address inequality, foster collaboration, redefine development, promote South-South cooperation, and adapt to changing geopolitical dynamics. By doing so, we can create a more inclusive, equitable, and prosperous future for all nations.



Heine, Jorge. “The Global South: origins and significance.” The Hindu, 11 July 2023, p. 8.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Bramfab

plutus ias current affairs eng med 13 July 2023


Q1. With reference “Global South” term sometimes seen in news, consider the following statements: 

  1. The term “Global South” gained prominence after the breakup of the Soviet Union, replacing the previously used term “Third World” for developing nations.
  2. Global South refers to the countries that wholly lie in the Southern Hemisphere sometimes described as ‘developing’, ‘less developed’ or ‘underdeveloped’.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2  

(d) None 

Answer: (a) 


Q2. Consider the following countries:

  1. Brazil 
  2. Russia
  3. Australia 
  4. India 
  5. China 
  6. South Africa 
  7. Indonesia 

How many of the above mentioned countries can be called a part of Global South?

(a) Only four 

(b) Only five 

(c) Only six

(d) All Seven 

Answer: (b)

Q3. Analyze the concept of the “Global South” in the context of international relations and its implications for the changing global landscape.

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