New Delhi: New challenges are emerging from the incidents in the West Asia and it is time for the countries of the Global South to talk in one voice for greater global good, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday even as he condemned deaths of civilians in the Hamas-Israel conflict.
In his address at the second India-hosted virtual Voice of Global South Summit, Modi, highlighting top 10 priorities for the developing countries, called for a consultative and demand-driven development financing system that respects national sovereignty and avoids debt traps, in comments that came amid rising criticism of China's harsh lending conditions.
Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said at a media briefing that the deliberations on the Hamas-Israel conflict included concerns over the ongoing hostilities, "horror" at the civilian casualties, the need for humanitarian aid for Palestinian people and the threat of terrorism.
In his remarks at the summit, the prime minister apprised the leaders from around 130 nations about the achievements of India's G20 presidency from the perspective of the Global South and announced a series of initiatives including New Delhi's decision to hold an annual conference from next year on development priorities of the developing countries.
The leaders at the summit also deliberated on the possible consequences of the Hamas-Israel conflict. The summit comprised two sessions at the level of leaders and eight others at the ministerial level.
"For global prosperity, Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas (together with all, development for all) is needed. But we all are seeing that new challenges are emerging from the incidents in West Asia," Modi said.
"India has condemned the horrific terrorist attacks in Israel on October 7. Along with restraint, we have also emphasized on dialogue and diplomacy. We strongly condemn the deaths of civilians in the conflict between Israel and Hamas," he said.
Kwatra said "almost all leaders spoke about the challenge of terrorism which comes from there, the need to provide humanitarian assistance there and horror at the civilian casualties because of the conflict." "These three were kind of threads which were common to almost all interventions," he said.
Citing the situation in West Asia, Modi said these crises can have a major impact on the Global South and it is important that "we find solutions to all these situations with solidarity, in one voice, and with shared efforts." He Modi also referred to his recent phone conversation with President of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas last month.
"After speaking to President Mahmoud Abbas, we have sent humanitarian assistance for the people of Palestine. This is the time when the countries of the Global South need to speak in one voice for the greater global good," he said.
Israel has been carrying out a massive military operation in Gaza following the unprecedented and multi-pronged attacks on Israeli cities by Hamas militants on October 7.
In his remarks, Modi said the message from the second Voice of Global South summit was that the Global South wants its "autonomy" and is ready to take big responsibilities in world affairs.
In the concluding session of the summit, Modi highlighted top ten priorities for the Global South which included his call for having a consultative, demand-driven and people-centric development financing that respects national sovereignty and avoids debt traps.
China, considered to be the world's largest sovereign creditor, has been showing reluctance to certain proposals on debt restructuring.
Kwatra said the challenges of debt burden came up strongly at many sessions at the virtual summit as financing is a need that stresses across various areas of development cooperation and economic growth of a country.
He said the overarching view was that development financing should be extended in a manner so that it does not impose debt burden on structural parameters of the economy of any country.
Asked whether the name of any specific country figured in the discussions for triggering the debt burden, he said no specific name was mentioned. But at the same time added that: "everybody knows what kind of credit causes debt".
In the list of top 10 priorities for Global South, Modi pitched for climate action based on principles of equity and climate justice as well as underlined the need for affordable and inclusive energy transition, and food security for all.
The priorities included digital public infrastructure for public service delivery, reformed multilateralism, women-led development, counter terror cooperation and preventing misuse of new technologies.
The prime minister also called for cooperation under the framework of 'five Cs' which he explained as consultation, cooperation, communication, creativity and capacity building.
Modi also described the Voice of Global South as the most unique platform for the changing world of the 21st century.
"Our priority was to make the G-20 inclusive and human-centric on a global scale. Our effort was that the focus of G-20 should be development of the people, by the people and for the people," he said.
"It is with this objective that we organised the Voice of Global South Summit for the first time in January this year. In more than 200 G-20-related meetings held in different states of India, we gave prominence to the priorities of the Global South," he said.
"The result was that we were successful in getting everyone's consent on the issues of the Global South in the G20 New Delhi Leaders' Declaration," Modi said.
Modi also talked about African Union's entry into the G20 as a permanent member at the New Delhi summit of the grouping.
"I cannot forget that historic moment, when the African Union was inducted into G20 as a permanent member with India's efforts," he said.
Listing achievements for the Global South under India;s G20 presidency, Modi said unprecedented seriousness was shown this time on climate finance.
There was consensus at G20 on providing finance and technology in easy terms to countries of the Global South for climate transition, he said.
"India believes that new technology should not become a new source of widening the distance between North and South. Today, in the era of Artificial Intelligence (AI), there is a great need to use technology in a responsible manner.
"To take this forward, an AI Global Partnership Summit is being organised in India next month," he said.
In his address, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said Global South should work towards self-reliance to mitigate various vulnerabilities as the Covid-era was a stark reminder of the "perils" of dependence for basic necessities on far away geographies.
Though Jaishankar did not make any specific references while making the remarks at the second virtual Voice of Global South summit, the comments are largely seen as veiled dig at China as he also talked about reliability of supply chains and challenges of economic concentrations.
The external affairs minister also said that there continues to be a "resistance" for a greater role for the Global South in shaping solutions for the key contemporary issues.
"We also need to work towards self-reliance to mitigate our vulnerabilities vis-a-vis economic concentrations. The Covid era is a stark reminder of the perils of dependence for basic necessities on far away geographies," he said.
"We need to not only democratise and diversify production, but build resilient and reliable supply chains and promote local solutions. Only then can the Global South secure its future," he said.
In the last few years, India has been positioning itself as a leading voice flagging concerns, challenges and aspirations of the Global South.
As the G20 president, India has been focusing on issues like inclusive growth, digital innovation, climate resilience, and equitable global health access with an aim to benefit the Global South or the developing countries.
Jaishankar also talked about the growing stress on the global economy and the long-standing structural inequities.
"All of us are acutely aware of the growing stress on the international economy and global society. Longstanding structural inequities have been seriously aggravated by the devastation of the Covid pandemic," he said.
"This has been made still worse by the fuel, food and fertilizer crises emanating from the Ukraine conflict and its responses. Resource challenges, financial constraints, disrupted trade and climate events have added to our burdens," he said.