India’s definitive foreign policy for 21st century

Ashish Shukla
5 min readSep 9, 2023

(This is a reprint from NewsBred)

It’s likely that a few of the distinguished guests would be muttering under the breath; and media, that eternal witch, would be screeching at every ear in the town. Yet the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has possibly unfurled India’s definitive foreign policy for the 21st century.

India is to be the Voice of Global South — not by just hosting a virtual summit by the same name in early January. It would seal a chair for African Union (AU) on the G20 table and none would oppose, never mind that sinking feeling amongst a few who have their multiple military bases and an obsolete currency embedded in the “dark continent” to worry about, not to say the rapacious loot of resources.

Global South of course is not just Africa: As one saw in the virtual summit of January, amongst the 125 nations who took part, 29 were from Latin America and the Caribbean; 31 from Asia, 11 from Oceania and 7 from Europe. Yet Africa, with 47 nations in attendance, let’s say, is the face of Global South. Have a look at the expanse of Global South below:

Interestingly, India doesn’t see itself as any other than a part of this Global South. We have the good word of no less than the charismatic Indian foreign minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar: “When India assumed the G20 presidency last December, we were acutely conscious that most of the Global South would not be at the table when we meet. This mattered very much because the really urgent problems are those faced by them…and India itself, so much a part of the Global South, (emphasis mine) could not stand and let that happen.”

What are these urgent problems?

A few are brazen demands — like the one on “climate change” — while others are the sleight of hand, like debt, at which the Rich are adept in enforcing compliance from the Global South.

Modi isn’t cutting corner on either: No insistence on “climate change” till the Global South have financial and technological assistance from the rich; and it’s time the global institutions are reformatted for a fair deal to Global South.

A word on “climate change” is due. This agenda is largely driven by the rich who claim that the global warming could sink humanity by 2050 if consumption of fossil fuel is not dramatically cut so as to reduce Co2 in the atmosphere. This is driven under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), led by its scientists in the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) though interestingly 15 times more scientists are terming it a hoax.

So this is how it works: The “climate change” peddlers, the Davos gang, world’s most influential players in global finance like BlackRock, JP Morgan, Rothschild Asset Management, Credit Suisse, Rockefeller Asset Management etc (the FAIRR Initiative) with some $25 trillion assets in control, have declared a war on agriculture: That agriculture systems are a major cause of global warming.

The FAIRR claims, without proof, that food production accounts for around a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. So they insist on “sustainable agriculture” with “net zero greenhouse gas emissions”, a classic doublespeak, implying that the world better changes the way it produces and consumes food.

So the idea is to produce climate-resilient healthy diets, under the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the tentacles of World Trade Organization (WTO), driven by world’s largest wealth managers which as we all know would never put a dime without being assured of massive profits.

So you hear of lab-grown meat, alternatives such as Bill Gates-funded Impossible Burgers, never mind its own FDA tests indicate it could be carcinogenic. Then there is Air Protein, a World Economic Forum-promoted insect protein diet.

We are also aware how fertilizers plants across the EU are shutting down since Russian natural gas isn’t available to produce it. It has caused a massive reduction in crop yields across the globe.

Then there is WTO which won’t allow the food crisis in marginalized countries to ease never mind leaders like Modi are willing to feed the world provided the WTO gives a go-ahead. WTO, being the only global body dealing with trade rules and regulations between different nations, just can’t be bypassed.

The WTO diktat forces poor countries to adopt so-called “free trade” by removing tariffs or subsidy on its farming. The WTO looks the other way though in the case of rich nations. For instance, in 2012, the US provided $100 billion for domestic food aid which included food coupons. But when India tried the same, the US slammed New Delhi for “trade-distorting subsidies” and the WTO looked the other way.

Russia, no wonder, is wanting to opt out of WTO since the latter allows countries to increase tariffs on Russian goods way above the WTO guidelines as Russia is under the US sanctions. All this when the WTO, created under the UN Charter, isn’t supposed to take political decisions against any of its 164-member nations.

This game is thus rigged against the Global South. Fragile supply chains, rise in cost in ocean shipping, unfair tariffs etc are all taking a toll. Modi’s India understands this under-swell of anger; its also aware that most of the world doesn’t want to make a choice between one or the other superpower: the US or China.

That’s why India brings the human-centric and not GDP-centric development on the G20 table.

That’s why it understands why reforms in the WTO or in World Bank, IMF etc can no longer be postponed.

It wishes to share with Global South, as Jaishankar said, “its experience and expertise, including our game-changing digital public goods in universal identification, financial payments, direct benefit transfer, digital health, commerce, industry and logistics.”

India has shown it has simple, scalable and sustainable solutions to empower the vulnerable and marginalized to be the fastest growing large economy.

Today the world is making a beeline to Africa. The continent has 40 percent of the world’s gold and up to 90 percent of its chromium and platinum. The largest reserves of cobalt, diamonds, platinum, uranium etc are in Africa.

Africans themselves are beginning to find their voice. Eight coups in last three years in different nations shows colonialism by stealth would no longer work. Africans want to have control of their resources, its refining; they wish a way out of spiralling debt, be it of the West or China. It welcomes forces like Russia which could curb the menace of embedded terrorism; and the good offices of India which through its methods could empower them.

India’s foreign policy under Modi is thus in plain view: Be the voice of Global South which is sick of West and possibly wary of China. This is the third vector of international geopolitics and India would be at its helm. India and Africa, on the two sides of Indian Ocean, share a historical affinity. A Global South in sync could keep the superpowers honest. It’s good for poor, it would ultimately be for rich too, and humanity would have a future. India’s “One Earth, One Family, One Future” G20 theme thus has a profound, and not banal, implications.



Ashish Shukla

Author, International journalist, Publishes as antidote to media lies