In his opening remarks at the Foreign Ministers’ meeting of the G20, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was correct in saying that multilateralism was in crisis and global governance had failed.

The division between the West, led by the US, and Russia-China was on full display. The Ukrainian war took centre stage — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to “end this war of aggression”. Lavrov meanwhile apologised to “colleagues from the Global South” for the West’s attempt to “shift responsibility for failures.”

Both the foreign ministers’ meeting and the finance ministers’ meeting did not issue communiques due to this rift. The developing countries’ major concerns like food and energy security, climate change, and health did not get their due.

The group’s moment in the sun was in 2008, when they were able to coordinate and form policy guidelines in response to the financial crisis. They agreed then to spend over $4 trillion to revive their economies. The group has not met similar success since. This is a forum in which developed and developing countries are supposed to thrash out their differences and address economic issues collectively. However, its response to the multiple challenges facing developing countries – Covid-19 pandemic, high debt levels, climate change – has not been up to par.

The time has come for the Global South to coordinate and find solutions to issues they face. After all, there is a historic precedent in the Non-Aligned Movement. Many experts believe that this summit could help India become the voice of the global South. This ambition is not misplaced. However, India is not there just yet. The country needs to increase trade and investments in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The government must also focus on signing free trade agreements with these countries to boost ties.