The G20 represents an emerging order – one that brings the G7 together with other major economies as equal partners. The G20 has evolved over time into one of the most powerful economic and financial groupings. At present, it comprises 85 per cent of global GDP, 75 per cent of international trade and two-thirds of the global population.
India’s G20 Presidency coincides with the beginning of ‘Amritkaal’, the next 25 years after the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, which makes it both futuristic and inclusive.
Our Presidency of the G20 ensures that India’s perspective on issues of vital national importance do not go unheard in the global financial narrative. At the same time, under PM Modi’s inspiring leadership, India has become the voice of the Global South within the G20.
We took over the Presidency at a challenging and watershed moment coinciding with a period of flux internationally. The Russia Ukraine conflict has vitiated relations between Russia and the industrialised West, most of which are members of the G20. The conflict, and the resulting unilateral sanctions imposed by the West, has upset the post pandemic global recovery and raised oil and gas prices as well as food availability. As always, the impact has been felt by the Global South, traditionally the most vulnerable.
India is seeking to find pragmatic global solutions for these challenges. In doing so, India has utilized its soft power in good measure. Her soft power, as disseminated through her inclusive cultural and civilisation heritage across millennia, demonstrates that her values of tolerance, inclusiveness and cross fertilisation of cultures are more important than ever before in today’s troubled world. India has used the G 20 Presidency to make culture the force to connect, to build relations and to heal the ruptures created by history and politics.
India has used the G20 Presidency to make culture the force to connect, to build relations and to heal the ruptures created by history and politics
India’s vision for the global development agenda is shaped by the rapid transformation of its economy and society launched by the Prime Minister, particularly green and digital transformations. The PM has transformed India’s foreign policy to focus on the ‘global common good’. Through its G20 leadership, India has extended this principle towards finding sustainable solutions to some of the key global challenges emerging out of the interconnectedness of the world, such as climate change, new and emerging technologies and food and energy security.
PRIORITIES OF INDIAN PRESIDENCY
The Presidency provides an opportunity to showcase India’s leadership inter-alia in climate action and climate commitments. The Prime Minister has pointed out that India’s determination to achieve climate commitments is clear. India has achieved the target of 40 per cent energy capacity from non-fossil sources some nine years before the deadline.
The Prime Minister has emphasised the importance of behavioral change for catalysing climate action and highlighted the need for collective action by the global community as part of a movement called LIFE – ‘Lifestyle for Environment’. These are most relevant for the G20 today.
As the G20 President, India has identified, highlighted, developed and strengthened international support for priorities of vital importance for the Global South in diverse social and economic sectors, ranging from energy, agriculture, trade, digital economy, health and environment, to employment, tourism, anti-corruption and women’s empowerment.
On digital, India hopes that our start-up sector and our proven capabilities to create tech models that balance the need for global integration and priorities at a national level can be internationalized. Digital India would go global. A new tech order must combine cross-border flows of technology and investment with development and growth aspirations.
On health, India has demonstrated new and innovative approaches to tackle complex challenges including Covid 19. India’s efforts to track the COVID pandemic’s spread relied on the success of the Aarogya Setu digital platform. India’s successful vaccination campaign which saw 2 billion vaccines administered across our populace, was underpinned by the Co-WIN digital platform.
VOICE OF GLOBAL SOUTH
India has utilized the Presidency to call for an inclusive G 20, one which has the African Union with a permanent seat at the table. This is in line with EAM Dr. S Jaishankar making a strong pitch at the recent B 20 Summit, organized by the CII, for “a more diversified and more democratic” re-globalization. EAM added that the Global South “not only did not reap the full benefits of economic change, but often ended up saddled with unviable debts emanating from opaque initiatives”. The crisis was “accelerated rapidly by the multiple shocks of debt, Covid and conflict”.
It has been our consistent position during the Presidency that the core mandate of the G20 is to promote economic growth and development. Therefore, the crucial concerns of the Global South in areas such as debt and finance, sustainable development, climate action, food security and women led development must be addressed. There is a strong compulsion to create more resilient and reliable supply chains. India has become the voice of the Global South and has argued that a more just, equitable and participative global order can only happen with investment, trade and technology decisions directed at the Global South.
How big a challenge is the elusive consensus on the Russia Ukraine conflict? President Putin has personally informed PM Modi that he would be represented by his Foreign Minister Lavrov. The other important leaders, including President Biden, have confirmed their participation. There is yet no final commitment to attend from China’s Xi Jinping. Nor did he address the B20, the Business Summit, perhaps a reflection of China’s deepening economic crisis. If present, Xi would possibly take a hard line position on possible language on the Russia Ukraine issue.
The absence of consensus on a paragraph in the Summit document on the seemingly intractable Russia Ukraine conflict remains a real concern. The Economist in its 26th August 2023 edition has conceded that the much vaulted Ukrainian counter offensive has not been doing well. There is talk of Zelensky seeking re-election before being forced into peace talks where he would necessarily have to make territorial concessions.
On the other hand, there are plenty of semantics available from the Western members of the G20, particularly the USA. The West seems to be in no mood to listen to Kissinger who at 99, in a recent article, had invaluable advice to offer to the West: “The question will now be how to end that war. At its end a place has to be found for Ukraine and a place has to be found for Russia — if we don’t want Russia to become an outpost of China in Europe.”
Under these circumstances, India is determined that the voice of the Global South that it represents will prevail and the Summit document will call for a more equitable and just global order.
India’s hopes for forthcoming G20 Summit under its Presidency can be summed up in this verse from the Rig Veda (11.28.1-9):
“May the stream of my life flow into the river of righteousness.
Loose the bonds of sin that binds me.
Let not the thread of my song be cut while I sing;
And let not my work end before its fulfillment”.