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Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets during the concluding session of the Voice of Global South Summit via video conferencing in New Delhi on January 13, 2023.
| Photo Credit: ANI

India will provide essential medical supplies to “any developing country” affected by natural disaster, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday. Speaking at the conclusion of the virtual ‘Voice of the Global South Summit’, Mr. Modi said institutions of global governance require “fundamental” changes.

“We developing countries are also concerned about the increasing fragmentation of the international landscape. These geopolitical tensions distract us from focusing on our development priorities. They cause sharp swings in international prices of food, fuel, fertilizers and other commodities. To address this geopolitical fragmentation, we urgently need a fundamental reform of the major international organisations, including the United Nations Security Council and the Bretton Woods institutions,” said PM Modi at the end of the two-day event.

Mr. Modi announced a series of initiatives to enrich India’s engagement of the Global South highlighting New Delhi’s medical diplomacy during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, “I would now like to announce a new ‘Aarogya Maitri’ project. Under this project, India will provide essential medical supplies to any developing country affected by natural disasters or humanitarian crisis.”

He also announced a “Global South Young Diplomats Forum“ for diplomats of the Global South and a “Global South Centre of Excellence“ that India will establish. Two other programmes – “Global South Science and Technology Initiative” and “Global South Scholarships” for students from the developing economies to pursue studies in Indian educational institutions – were also announced by the Indian Prime Minister.

‘Frozen mechanism’

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar addresses the Voice of the Global South Summit. Photo: Twitter/@DrSJaishankar

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar addresses the Voice of the Global South Summit. Photo: Twitter/@DrSJaishankar

Speaking at the event, External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar added that India will shape its Presidency in G-20 in consultation with both the partners in the G-20 as well as with the “fellow citizens” in the Global South. He said disruption in the supply of essential commodities after the eruption of the Ukraine crisis has not received attention in the global bodies and that the United Nations is “a frozen 1945-invented mechanism”. 

“Where the United Nations is concerned, a frozen, 1945-invented mechanism is simply unable to articulate the wider concerns of its membership. Some powers have been singularly focused on their own advantage, to the exclusion of the well-being of the international community. And the G-20 reflecting the composition of its membership, has had its own particular focus. This is what we are seeking to change. India’s G-20 priorities will be shaped in consultation with not just our G-20 partners but also our fellow citizens in the Global South,” said Mr. Jaishankar. 

The Indian Minister said the Global South has faced additional stress and anxieties because of “debt, unviable projects, trade barriers, contracting financial flows and climate pressure”, apart from the Covid pandemic. But these factors have not made it to the global high table which remains dominated by older concerns. 

“The costs and availability of fuel, food and fertilizers have emerged as a major concern for many of us. So too has the disruption in trade and commercial services. However, none of this has got the attention that it deserves in global councils,” said Mr. Jaishankar while highlighting the “burden of a colonial past,” and “inequalities of the current world order”.

Mr. Jaishankar emphasised that “global conversations” should reflect the “concerns and challenges”. He said that a “more democratic and equitable world can only be built on greater diversification and localisation of capabilities.”

The meeting was also addressed by Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal who called for forging new partnerships among countries of the Global South to “build resilient supply chains, increase trade and promote tourism”.

“At the WTO Ministerial Conference held in Geneva in June 2022, India, South Africa and other developing countries worked together to obtain the TRIPS waiver decision providing equitable and affordable access to vaccines. We shall redouble our efforts at the WTO to get the TRIPS waiver extended to COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics,” said Mr. Goyal hosting the session on Commerce and Trade Ministers of the Global South.

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