In his monthly radio address Mann Ki Baat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unique initiative to reach the masses across the country, he usually talks about Swachchata, Fit India, women’s empowerment, student exams and other down-to-earth subjects. In contrast, on November 27, Modi made a pitch — on an ambitious subject — “for the entire country to join the G20, a big opportunity for India.”
“We have to focus on global good, and world welfare. Whether it is peace or unity, sensitivity towards the environment, or sustainable development, India has solutions to challenges… The theme that we have given – ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ – shows our commitment to Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” said Modi. The first Sherpa meeting will be held in Udaipur, Rajasthan.
India is the new President of the G20
India became President of the G20 on December 1 at a time when the world is grappling with a serious existential crisis. The raging war between the NATO powers and Russia since February 24 that has destroyed Ukraine, leading to an estimated 6.6 thousand civilians killed. This European conflict has caused an unprecedented energy crisis, a famine in Africa, dragging the West towards a global recession. Notwithstanding progress on the Loss and Damage issue, in Sharm ElSheikh, during the COP 27 jamboree, where developed countries agreed to pay compensation to the LDCs, a devastating long-term upheaval of landscapes and communities in inevitable across the planet leading to runway global warming. The major developed powers have failed diplomatically, environmentally and economically. With geopolitics redefining geo-economics, India is likely to emerge as the chief global diplomat and the economic and ecological symbol of hope in a galaxy teetering on despair.
India, will host over 200 meetings with the global glitterati, including diplomats, entrepreneurs, political leaders, NGOs from 19 powerful economies and the EU. This is bound to boost our hospitality and tourism sectors.
In the past, India has hosted the NAM Summit in 1983, and the third India-Africa Forum summit in 2015. In sheer size and scale, nothing compares with hosting the G20. This can be a game-changer if India spells out a new global vision.
G20 covers 85 % of global GDP
The G20, which covers 85% of the global GDP, and 67% of the world’s population, entails the global responsibility of shaping decisionmaking on key challenges facing the world. Launched in 1999, during the South-East Asian economic crisis, the G20 has eclipsed the G7 during the global recession of 2007-2008 and the Eurozone crisis of 2010. With the dynamism and economic might of the BRICS, in 2008, the G20 was elevated from the finance ministers to the heads of government/state. Today, the G20 faces an unprecedented crisis. The European war has dragged the world into a second global recession and a catastrophic energy crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has added to the woes.
The G20 presidency offers a unique branding opportunity for India: Surging economic growth rates, the digital revolution, ability to combat Covid-19 effectively at home and abroad through vaccine aid and diplomacy. India’s progress in switching to renewables, meeting its targets to counter climate change and its push for self-reliance are commendable.
New trends in entrepreneurship, business innovation, the rise of startups as unicorns, and gender progress in the services sector are appreciable. A single-year presidency does not empower the host to transform the world, yet given India’s successes, at the continental scale, the country can lay the benchmark for global standards. The G20 presidency provides India with Herculean challenges but also enormous opportunities, as Modi pointed out in his Mann Ki Baat.
Four democracies on the path to becoming powerful economic players — Indonesia, India, Brazil, and South Africa — hold the presidency from December 2021 to November 2025, a rare opportunity for synergy and solidarity to advance and assert their combined leadership of the Global South. Among the four, India is the largest economy, has the largest population and the longest democracy.
All three members of IBSA — India, Brazil, and South Africa — will hold the G20 presidency consecutively in 2023, 2024, and 2025. The IBSA, insulated from the geopolitical pressures constraining the BRICS (where these three countries are required to work with Russia and China), can develop a cohesive plan to project the priority concerns of the Global South. India must emerge as the chief global diplomat.
As the G20 President, India should take a broader view of the G20 agenda to synthesise divergent interests of all constituents of the forum: five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the developed world united under the G7, five members of BRICS, and all G20 members. As the host, India should factor in the perspectives of countries not represented in the G20. India will advocate an inclusive approach, with pragmatic and human-centric solutions to global issues. Elevating the African Union (AU) from a permanent observer to a full-fledged member of the G20, thus placing it on par with the EU will win India global goodwill.
India must reflect Global South
It is possible to weld the different choices together to create a holistic and comprehensive approach for the Indian presidency of the G20. The challenge is to combine an Indian perspective with the vital interests of the Global South, and demonstrate diplomatic finesse to communicate with and reconcile the viewpoints of adversarial power centres such as the West, Russia and China. With geopolitical links with all sides, India is in the enviable position to deliver this unique package. It must walk the talk.
The G20 presidency is an opportunity for India to shape a New World Order. In a historic speech in Bali, Indonesia, Modi laid out the quintessential principle of the New World Order as global peace. Declaring “this is not the era of war”, Modi said: “I am confident that the next year when the G20 meets in the Holy land of Buddha and Gandhi, we will all agree to convey a strong message of peace to the world.” Modi’s call on LiFE, an environmentally friendly lifestyle are apt initiatives. Peace, Global Good and World Welfare will guide India’s G20 presidency. With emphasis on soft power and belief in ‘One Earth, one Family, one Future’, India is destined to guide the world towards a more sustainable and just New World Order
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