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4.3] India and South-South Cooperation

Global South and Global North Division

1. ITEC – Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Program

One of the important initiative under South-South cooperation, the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Program, ITEC for short, is the leading capacity building platform of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. Instituted in 1964, ITEC is one of the oldest institutionalized arrangements for international capacity building having trained more than 200,000 officials from 160+ countries in both the civilian and in the defence sector.

Building on India’s vast and rich network of governance- and development-related expertise available in higher educational institutions and training facilities, ITEC offers nearly 10,000 fully-funded in-person training opportunities through nearly 400 courses offered at 100+ eminent institutes in India each year.

Even during the disruptions occasioned by the covid pandemic, the ITEC programme continued with its commitment to share India’s development experience with the world, providing online healthcare and governance related trainings to nearly 10,000 professionals through digital platforms.

Apart from our regular calendar-based training programs, India also responds to country-specific requests for training in specific areas of governance by organizing customized training programs which are designed and delivered by the leading institutions in India.

Today, ITEC utilizes a bouquet of varied modalities to meet its mandate of capacity building. The major sectors under which ITEC operates can be categorized as follows:

1.1 Capacity Building

The ITEC programme helps in capacity building by (i) offering technical training slots to its personnel in large network of vocational and human resource development institutions across India; (ii) the deputation of Indian experts to developing countries to train local personnel, impart specialized skills and know-how in different fields. In addition, (iii) ITEC programme facilitates study visits to India by senior political leaders and decision-makers to acquaint them with the opportunities India offers in enhancing developing cooperation with their nations.

1.2 Project Assistance

ITEC also extends project assistance to developing countries, in particular, in the small and medium industry sector. These may include agricultural processing, manufacture of agricultural tools, carpentry, plastic molding, brick-making, among others. Typically, the ITEC Division assists with project identification, the drawing up of a feasibility report, project implementation and the training of local personnel to eventually manage and run the project on their own. It may be noted that India’s project assistance is not loaded with administrative expenses to be borne by the recipient, a common practice in OECD aid.

1.3 Institution Building

Drawing from its own development experience. India sets great store by capacity-building and the promotion of skills. While training of foreign personnel in India and the deputation of Indian experts abroad are important means to achieve this, a more sustainable, long-term solution lies in the building of appropriate institutions in partner countries. These include vocational training institutes, entrepreneurship development institutes, specialized institutes to foster skills in specific areas such as agriculture and animal husbandry, ICT and business management, among others.

India spends $ 20 million on ITEC activities annually. Since 1964, the cumulative figure on this account is $ 3 billion, with around US$ 1 billion going to Africa. 40 per cent of the ITEC budget is devoted to project assistance. It may be noted that the Government of India has empaneled 48 prestigious institutions to offer as many as 220 courses in a wide variety of disciplines.

1.4 Scholarships

India has a long tradition of providing opportunities for higher education to students from developing countries. These may be for graduate and post-graduate courses in prestigious Indian universities, covering a wide range of disciplines in the humanities, science and technology and professional areas such as engineering and medicine. These scholarships are administered through the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), although some scholarships may also be offered under the aegis of other institutions. Several universities also offer self-financing placements to foreign students and this number is now several times that of placements under government scholarships.

In the words of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is a country which has always played a constructive role on the world stage. Our offer of development aid, our development model is not based on ‘give and take’, but is guided by the developmental requirements of partner countries. Our focus has always been on Capacity Building and Resource Development. We have always strived for collective team work at all forums of our developmental partnerships.

2. NIEO – New International Economic Order

The New International Economic Order (NIEO) is a movement by the developing and third world countries to end economic colonialism and dependency through a new economic model. The main argument of third world countries is that – the current international economic order is a form of neo-colonialism and perpetuates inequality.

2.1 History of NIEO

After 2nd World War, while the newly decolonized countries gained political sovereignty, it was also felt that their de jure (by law) political colonization ended only to be replaced by a de facto (in practice) economic colonization. Thus, NIEO became a central theme of discussion in forums like NAM, Group of 77 and UNCTAD.

On backdrop of demand from developing world, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the ‘Declaration for the Establishment of a New International Economic Order’ and its accompanying program of action on 1 May 1974. A few months later the UN General Assembly adopted the ‘Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States’.

In 2018, the UNGA adopted the resolution ‘Towards a New International Economic Order’, that reaffirmed the need to continue working towards a new international economic order.

2.2 The Demand for NIEO

The following factors in various ways have led to the strong demand for NIEO:

  1. Currently, the global south faces major problem, it includes a) high population, b) unemployment c) poverty d) illiteracy, e) political instability etc.
  2. A lot of third world countries have faced the brunt of colonization in previous century. This led to huge transfer of resources from these countries to the global north, which is also partly responsible for the socio-economic problems of these countries.
  3. The forces of globalization have created a significant global interdependence between developed, developing and underdeveloped countries. There is wide gap between developed and periphery countries which limit the scope of economic and trade relations. Thus, the current world order perpetuates the transfer of wealth from global south to global north, increasing the wealth gap.
  4. There is also a frustration among third world countries that the trade relations post decolonization have continued to serve the interest of the developed parts of the world. The WTO have also failed and have been used by western countries to further their interest.

Thus, there is a strong demand to establish a New International Economic Order (NIEO) by developing countries to remedy the situation. The third world is home to around 88% of global population, contributing around only 42% of global GDP. Thus, the development of this part of the world becomes extremely important.

2.3 NIEO Reforms

The demands for from a new economic order include:

  1. Sovereign equality of all states, with non-interference in their internal affairs.
  2. Full sovereignty of each State over its natural resources.
  3. Just relationship between the price of raw materials and other goods exported by developing and developed countries
  4. A reform of the international monetary system, financing and trade mechanisms (IMF, WTO etc.) to establish a just economic world order.
  5. Both financial and technology transfer incentives and assistance for industrialization projects in developing countries.
  6. Promotion of cooperation among the countries of the South, to ensure greater individual and collective autonomy and a better bargaining power vis-à-vis global north.

2.4 India and NIEO

Since independence, India have played a significant role in advocating and developing NIEO. South-south cooperation have been one of the important pillar of Indian foreign policy and reflects the Indian spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (whole world is one family).

  1. As a leader of NAM, India played an important role in establishing NIEO. The economic issues of the 3rd world has remained a major point of discussion in NAM.
  2. India played a crucial role in setting up the UN conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that promotes the interests of developing countries in world trade.
  3. India’s role in amending the GATT rules was also decisive. It allowed the imposition of import restrictions by developing countries and improve their exports.
  4. COVID 19 Vaccine
  5. India has been sharing her knowledge and expertise on the experience of development with neighboring and other developing countries through different platforms like ITEC, RIS, ISA, CDRI etc.
  6. India is also advocating NIEO through multilateral alignments like BRICS, IBSA, Russia-India-China (RIC), G4 Nations initiatives etc. aimed at creating multipolar world order.

2.5 Scholars Perspective on NIEO

India believes in in ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’

“As far as India is concerned, our engagement with the Global South is not just a matter of policy, it is ingrained in the very fabric of our culture and philosophy,” Mrs. Ruchira Kamboj, Permanent Representative to the UN.

S Jaishankar

“The case for a ‘Global South sensitive’ model of globalization therefore becomes stronger by the day. In this regard, India stands for three fundamental shifts that can create a conducive environment.”

  1. The model of globalization: from self-centered globalization to human-centered globalization. This means shifting the focus more on development as a whole.
  2. A different approach to Innovation & Technology: From being on the receiving end of technological patronage, to deploying Global South-led innovations for societal transformation.
  3. Development Cooperation: From debt creating projects to a demand-driven and sustainable development cooperation

“South-South cooperation must be as a parallel process to North-South Cooperation and SDGs can be met by joint efforts of both.”

C Raja Mohan

“India should avoid the temptation of building a bloc against the developed North. Instead, offer sustainable economic cooperation to the Global South through national, regional, and global institutions to further joint causes.”

3. South-South Cooperation in WTO Negotiations

The topic is covered under Paper 2, Section A, Topic 8: Evolution of International Economic System

4. BRICS Forum – Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa

4.1 Introduction

BRICS Member Countries Map

BRICS is a multilateral forum comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates. BRICS was established as BRIC in 2009, in aftermath of Global Financial Crisis, with India, Russia, China and Brazil as founding members. Fareed Zakaria described the establishment of BRICS as the beginning of ‘Post American world order’. It symbolized ‘the decline of west and the rise of rest’. It also showed that the centre of gravity of international economy has shifted towards Asia Pacific.

After establishment, South Africa joined the grouping in Dec 2010, making BRIC into BRICS. The most recent expansion happened in Jan 2024 when 4 other countries i.e. Iran, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Ethiopia joined the BRICS forum. Apart from existing 9 members, more than 20 countries (including Mexico and Turkey), have expressed interest in joining the coalition.

4.2 Potential of BRICS

Combined, the BRICS members encompass about 30% of the world’s land surface and 45% of the global population. All five initial member states are members of the G20, with a combined nominal GDP of around US$57 trillion in PPP terms (33% of global GDP). This is higher than the combined GDP of G7 countries of approximately US$ 52 trillion (in PPP terms).

Two of the BRICS members are permanent members of UNSC, while three other are aspiring members. These nations have huge natural resources, military industrial complex, skilled and semi skilled man power. The BRICS countries are considered the foremost geopolitical rival to the G7 bloc of leading advanced economies, implementing competing initiatives such as the New Development Bank, BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement, BRICS basket reserve currency etc.

4.3 BRICS 2023 Summit

Since its foundation in 2009, BRICS have held regular annual summits. The most recent summit was held in Aug 2023 in South Africa, At the summit, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have been invited to join the bloc.

The newly elected president of Argentina later withdraw the country’s membership application. Further, Saudi Arabia did not join the grouping as planned, and later remarked that they’re still considering the BRICS membership.

The summit also concluded with a statement on potential BRICS currency, suggesting that such a currency would “increase our payment options and reduce our vulnerabilities.”.

The 2024 Summit is scheduled to take place in October 2024 in Russia.

BRICS Currency

BRICS have decided to investigate the potential development of a BRICS currency for trade and investment within member countries. While the discussions regarding practicality and advantages of introducing such currency are still a work in progress, if introduced, it could be a game changer for trade amongst developed countries.

With inclusion of Iran and UAE as member countries, such a currency will reduce the dependence on dollar for energy imports of BRICS countries. It will boost the trade amongst BRICS members and particularly benefit Russia and Iran, for whom it’s dif. Such a system will reduce deficit for countries like India and also give BRICS a better bargaining power vis-à-vis USA and EU.

4.4 New Development Bank

In 2013, during the fifth BRICS summit, the member countries agreed to create a global financial institution as an alternative to the western-dominated IMF and World Bank.

In 2014, the agreement to establish BRICS financial institution i.e. New Development Bank was signed and the institution was formally created in 2015 with its headquarters in China (Shanghai). While India, China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa were founding members of NDB, Bangladesh, UAE and Egypt joined eventually. The founding countries have all equal voting rights of approximately 19% each, and the rest 5% is divided into newly joined countries. The Membership of the Bank is open to members of the United Nation

The NDB finances the various developmental and infrastructure projects in member countries. So far it has sanctioned close to 100 projects worth more than USD $ 32 billion.

4.5 Analysis of BRICS

“BRICS is no longer an ‘alternative’, it is an established feature of the global landscape” – S Jaishankar

In his article ‘BRICS Expansion is no Triumph for China’, C Rajamohan suggests that the expansion of BRICS does not turn it into a potent block, rather undermines it. With India China geopolitical confrontation already in place, the addition of Egypt and Ethiopia (who are already at dispute over Nile waters), will make the consensus even more difficult. He suggests that BRICS will be as ineffective as NAM in converting anti-Western rhetoric into a concrete agenda. Thus, instead of shaping a new theatre of contestation with the West, the BRICS forum will be a theatre of contestation itself.

Sanusha Naidu suggests that “the inclusion of new members has geo-economic, geostrategic and geopolitical implications… the latest additions will push some BRICS nations to think more about their Middle East policies, and for China and India to beef the existing policies.” She further comments that the inclusion of new members is “very energy centric”.

Marco Fernandes, a researcher at the Tricontinental Institute of Public Research notes that “BRICS constitutes 45% of the world’s oil reserves and 56% of gas reserves. BRICS member Russia alone accounts for half of the world’s production of enriched uranium. In addition, Russia and China account for about 70% of the global uranium production. Thus, the BRICS bloc is well-equipped in the energy sector and is a superpower.”

Response of the Western Scholars

Western scholars have always been apprehensive about BRICS, they call BRICS as ‘motley cow’ (diverse in characteristics, with no unanimous decision-making power). For them BRICS has no future. The BRICS as a platform aims to challenge US hegemony but the members have more contradictions among themselves. The BRICS solidarity can easily crumble under the pressures of geopolitics. The territorial dispute between India and China and to large extent between China and Russia has not completely settled. Further inclusion geopolitical rivals like of Egypt-Ethiopia (over Nile waters), and Iran-Saudi Arabia (which deferred the inclusion for now) will mean that consensus in the grouping will be impossible.

So far intra BRICS trade has remained just 6.5% of their total trade with the outside world. They have more economic interdependence with USA and Europe than among themselves. There is a huge gap in political ideologies. Of the 9 states that make up the expanded group, three can be said to be democracies, four are autocracies, one is monarchy, and another a theocracy. Thus, there is very little political and cultural integration. People to people contact is minimal. It seems that BRICS will crumble as the tensions between India and China may grow. The withdrawal of Argentina and the deferring of membership by Saudi Arabia, indicate that BRICS is not as attractive as it has been marketed.

4. IBSA Forum –India, Brazil, South Africa

South South Cooperation and IBSA Logo

The IBSA Dialogue Forum (India, Brazil, South Africa) is a grouping that seeks to promote international cooperation among member countries. It represents three important poles for galvanizing South–South cooperation and greater understanding between three important continents of the developing world. The forum provides the three countries with a platform to engage in discussions for cooperation in the field of agriculture, trade, culture, and defence among others.

IBSA is also called as new model of south-south cooperation. Established in 2003, it was formed on the backdrop of disappointment with the developed countries towards implementing the development agenda agreed at Doha in 2001.

IBSA is a unique Forum which brings together India, Brazil and South Africa, three large democracies and major economies from three different continents, facing similar challenges. All three countries are developing, pluralistic, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious nations.

The grouping recently completed 20 years and in March, 2023, Brazil assumed the presidency of IBSA.

What IBSA Countries Bring to the Table

  1. India is world’s largest democracy, known for its technical prowess, low-cost health care products, and solar energy generation.
  2. Brazil is known to be a giant in agriculture.
  3. South Africa is a global influencer on environmental conservation and is a leading global actor to have direct access to the African Union (AU).

5.1 IBSA Mechanism

The cooperation in IBSA is on three fronts:

1) As a forum for consultation and coordination on global and regional political issues, such as, the reform of the global institutions of political and economic governance, WTO/Doha Development Agenda, climate change, terrorism etc.

2) Trilateral collaboration in various areas and projects, through fourteen working groups and six People-to-People Forums, for the common benefit of three countries. Various areas of cooperation include: agriculture, education, energy, science and technology, trade, transport etc. 

3) Assisting other developing countries by taking up projects in the latter through IBSA Fund.

5.2 IBSA Fund

IBSA Fund is an initiative of IBSA to support the developing and least developed countries (LDCs) in the common pursuit of their broad development objectives.

The fund was established in 2004 and became operational in 2006. It seeks to identify replicable and scalable projects that can be disseminated to developing countries on a demand-driven basis as examples of best practices in the fight against poverty and hunger. IBSA Fund-supported projects help partner countries in the Global South to achieve their national priorities as well as all other internationally agreed development goals.

Since its inception, a total of 39 development projects have been supported in 34 partner countries, with outlay of around $44 million.

These best practices of what global south can achieve together have become instrumental examples, helping developing countries to build and share indigenous solutions in improving the wellbeing of people, particularly women and children.

5.3 IBSA Trilateral Meetings

Since its inception in 2003, 10 trilateral ministerial meetings have been held in IBSA members. There was significant gap of 6 years between 7th (2011) and 8th trilateral meeting (2017). However, the latest meeting (10th trilateral summit) was held in 2022, and it appears that the member countries are indeed interested in revival of the forum.

According to the Joint communique issued at 10th Summit, where the foreign ministers of all the three countries met, following points were stressed:

  1. Need to achieve universal health care.
  2. Coordination and cooperation among IBSA countries in various multilateral fora, including the UN, WTO, WIPO and G20, on major issues of international agenda.
  3. The Ministers agreed to make all efforts to reform and strengthen the multilateral trading system and make the WTO more effective and responsive to the needs of its developing country members.
  4. Commitment to safeguarding the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations as well as a rule-based international order, equal sovereignty and non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs.
  5. The Ministers expressed concern at the slow pace of Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) on UNSC reforms.
  6. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), its Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement.
  7. The Ministers deplored the continued terrorist attacks across the world. They condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed and by whomsoever.

5. RIS – Research and Information System for Developing Countries

Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) is a New Delhi–based autonomous think-tank, under the Ministry of External Affairs (GOI), and is engaged in research in issues related to

  1. International economic development,
  2. Trade and investment and
  3. Technology.

RIS is envisioned as a forum for fostering effective policy dialogue and capacity-building among developing countries on global and regional economic issues.

The focus of the work programme of RIS is to promote South-South Cooperation and collaborate with developing countries in multilateral negotiations in various forums. RIS is engaged across inter-governmental processes of several regional economic cooperation initiatives. Through its intensive network of think tanks, RIS seeks to strengthen policy coherence on international economic issues and the development partnership canvas.

RIS is engaged in the Track II process of several regional initiatives. RIS is providing analytical support to the Government of India in the negotiations for concluding comprehensive economic cooperation agreements with partner countries. Through its intensive network of policy think tanks, RIS seeks to strengthen policy coherence on international economic issues.

6. CDRI – Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure

Launched in 2019, at the United Nations Climate Action Summit, The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) is a partnership of national governments, UN agencies and programmes, multilateral development banks and financing mechanisms, the private sector, and knowledge institutions. CDRI aims to promote the resilience of new and existing infrastructure systems to climate and disaster risks in support of sustainable development.

The strategic priorities of CDRI include:

  1. Technical Support and Capacity-building: This includes disaster response and recovery support; innovation, institutional and community capacity-building assistance; and standards and certification.
  2. Research and Knowledge Management: This includes collaborative research; global flagship reports; and a global database of infrastructure and sector resilience.
  3. Advocacy and Partnerships: This includes global events and initiatives; marketplace of knowledge financing and implementation agencies; and dissemination of knowledge products. 

In August 2022, CDRI was accorded the status of an ‘International Organization’ by the Government of India via a Headquarter Agreement.

6.1 CDRI Member Countries

Notable Exceptions: South Africa, China

CDRI Member Countries Map PSIR

Notable Members: USA, Canada, Brazil, France, UK, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal

Note: We’ve given only a preliminary information about RIS and CDRI, assuming that students should be at least aware about these organizations. A detailed study of these institutions may not be required from an exam viewpoint.

Posted in PSIR NOTES

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