As India prepares to assume the G20 presidency later this year and host the summit next year, arrangements for the prestigious event are in full swing.
While the Union Cabinet in mid-February approved the setting up of a G20 Secretariat and its reporting structures, the name of Foreign secretary Harsh V Shringla has cropped up for holding the position of its Chief Coordinator.
The G20 Summit will be the biggest multilateral event hosted by India in recent years. As many as 10,000 international delegates are expected to attend the 2023 summit. India will hold the presidency of the G20 from December 1 this year to November 30, 2023, culminating in the G20 Summit, which will be the biggest multilateral event hosted by the country in recent years. About 10,000 international delegates are likely to attend the summit.
As per practice, a G20 Secretariat is being established to handle work relating to substantive knowledge content, technical, media, security, and logistical aspects of India’s G20 presidency. It will be manned by officers and staff from the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Finance, and other relevant line ministries, departments, and domain knowledge experts. The Secretariat will be functional till February 2024.
Media reports suggest that Shringla’s appointment as the G20 Chief Coordinator could be announced in the near future and he is expected to take up the assignment in May, following his superannuation at the end of this month.
Shringla, according to these reports, is well-suited for the job as during the past two years, while cultivating ties with all major powers and neighbors, he has also led from the front in the efforts to evacuate Indians stranded abroad during the pandemic as well as from Afghanistan and Ukraine. While his tenure saw a renewed emphasis on the country’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, relations with the US also received his constant attention. In December last year, Shringla played a key role in making Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India a success. He also focused on furthering ties with Europe, besides the Indo-Pacific region.
The G20 Secretariat will be guided by an apex committee headed by the Prime Minister and comprise some senior ministers. The Coordination Committee will report to the apex committee.
The Group of Twenty (G20) includes the world’s 20 largest economies and is the premier forum for international economic cooperation that plays an important role in global economic governance.
India was originally expected to be President of the G20 in 2022, coinciding with the 75th year of the country’s independence. It had arranged a swap with Italy, which was to be the Chair in 2022 but agreed to take on the Presidency in 2021. During the G20 Summit in November 2020, India made another swap with Indonesia, which took on the Presidency for 2022.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said at the time that her country discussed the exchange with India because a G20 presidency in 2023 would have overlapped with Indonesia’s presidency of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The G20 was founded in 1999 in response to several world economic crises. Since 2008, it has convened at least once a year, with summits involving each member’s head of Government or state, Finance Minister, Foreign Minister, and other high-ranking officials. The EU is represented by the European Commission and the European Central Bank. Other countries, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations are invited to attend the summits, some on a permanent basis. The group’s stature has risen over the years and today it is recognized as exercising considerable global influence.