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Last updated: 24 Oct, 2023  

Modi.9.Thmb.jpg Long-term gains of G20 Presidency

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D C Pathak | 24 Oct, 2023
The tremendous global outreach achieved by India in the run-up to G20 under its Presidency, consolidation of India’s position in regional groupings, acknowledgement of India’s leadership of the Global South, further strengthening of bilateral and multilateral bonds that served to counter India’s adversaries and above all the direct exposure of the world to India’s inner strengths of indigenous skills, technological potential and civilisational roots, all these should be listed as the extraordinary and lasting advantages gained by India in the wake of this highly successful world event hosted by the country under the direct guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This was a G20 Summit ‘with a difference’ setting off positive geopolitical trends both for global security and the world economy.

Nearly 200 conferences of G20 Sherpas, Ministers of participating countries and specialists, held in India and outside, generated information, graphical data and opportunities for cooperation that would be now evaluated producing a rare gift of knowledge for the participating countries. This is perhaps the biggest legacy of G20’s Delhi Summit.

A singular achievement of the Summit was the release of a joint statement - Delhi Declaration - representing a consensus that had eluded it in the past because of differences on geopolitical developments chiefly the Ukraine-Russia military conflict, issues of environment and matters relating to equity for the Global South.

India has firmed up its position as a world power whose counsel on issues of war and peace would be respected and whose voice of sanity turned the esoteric Indian concept of ‘one world one family’ into a reality.

In fact what turned out to be an epoch-making feature of the Delhi Summit was that G20, the most powerful economic group, was made aware of the need to enlarge its ambit and embrace a human-centric approach to the world at large.

The ninth P20 meet of the Parliament Speakers held on October 13-14 in Delhi as a concluding part of the G20 put a seal of finality on the decision of the democratic countries to work together to advance the agenda of the Delhi Summit. Inaugurating this meeting, Prime Minister Modi described India as the mother of democracy while Speaker Om Birla emphasised the importance of Parliamentary contribution to G20 processes.

The Delhi Declaration of G20 will go down in history as the first expression of unanimity by member countries on a wide variety of global issues beyond the traditional matters of economy and business, such as climate change, the threat of terrorism and an equitable order addressing the disparity between the North and the South.

Climate change has been the subject of acrimonious debates rather than decisions for ‘action’.

India left its imprint at the G20 summit with Prime Minister Modi advancing the concept of Mission LiFE (Lifestyle For Environment) as a part of the larger vision of ‘One earth, one family, one future’.

By calling upon every individual - not just countries and institutions - to become a beacon of hope for humanity by consciously adopting a helpful approach to the environment, supporting a switch over to renewable energy and generally upholding the idea of a lifestyle that was in sync with inclusivity and equality, the Delhi Declaration was breaking new grounds.

Another feature of this G20 summit was the consensus it reached on the need to create a Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI), define its principles and framework and make it an instrument of the new vision for global prosperity. Prime Minister Modi with his impassioned devotion to the cause of Digital India, drove this initiative and secured the total backing of the participants.

A related idea of encouraging ‘start-ups’ was brought to the high table and India’s example as a lead player in that was successfully put forth, to demonstrate India’s front-line role in advancing the cause of the global economy.

India was projected as the fastest-growing economy with the potential to become one of the three largest economies of the world and the ‘ease of doing business’ was convincingly explained to lay the ground for further foreign investments in India. India’s potential across the spectrum - from Space to Sports - was well demonstrated.

Prime Minister Modi has to be given credit for pushing India as an equal partner and as a responsible stakeholder in the G20 group. Reaffirmation of expeditious implementation of the 2023 Agenda on SDGs Goals in a way that ‘no one is left behind’, the call for women-led development and emphasis on the conceptual shift from a GDP-centric approach to human-centric development, must be regarded as transformational ideas voiced at Delhi Summit.

It is remarkable how the G20 Presidency has put India on the global map in a manner that its voice of wisdom has been acknowledged across the world. India’s security and economic interests have been well served at the Delhi Summit.

The political will of the Modi regime has put the stamp of consistency and strategic soundness on India’s foreign policy that basically favoured bilateral and multilateral friendships which were mutually beneficial and were not in conflict with the cause of global peace and advancement of the world economy.

In the context of the Ukraine-Russia military confrontation, India held its ground while calling for a peaceful resolution through talks without naming either side in that combat and highlighting in the Delhi Declaration the pronouncement of Prime Minister Modi that ‘this is not an era of war’.

No voice of dissent was raised by the US, Russia and China at the summit and India’s policy of pushing the Indo-US relationship to a new height while maintaining the country’s deep bonds with Russia was proceeding unhindered.

India maintained its vocal advocacy of UN reforms on the grounds that the world body had to be a representative one in today’s global order and had to broad base its decision-making process.

It appears that voices favouring India’s inclusion as a permanent member of the UN Security Council are getting stronger every day as there is a realisation that this was needed to maintain the very credibility of the UN body as the arbiter of matters affecting global order and peace.

It may be mentioned here that the Delhi Declaration of the G20 Summit gave equal importance to issues of world security and global economic development - this was because India had chosen to be upfront about expressing concerns at all world forums that affected India’s security and posed a danger to the world at large, as well.

At the G20 summit, India gave a clear message to China and Pakistan that it was well-prepared to deal with them both and effectively counter their joint mischief against this country.

After the G20 summit, India is better prepared to deal with an aggressive China on the borders and elsewhere and is in a position to inflict costs on Pakistan for its cross-border misadventures. For all of that Prime Minister is rightly relying on capacity building by India on the ‘mantra’ of self-dependence.

The gains of G20 have been unprecedented in terms of the cultural richness, ‘soft power’ potential and new avenues of exports of India’s enormous handicrafts and local products, to which the world was given access during the extensive get-togethers and domestic ‘touring’ organised for the visiting dignitaries.

G20 events were held in 60 cities across 28 states and 8 Union Territories. Foreign guests literally emerged in the rich Indian culture - the gifts presented to them ranged from Pashmina shawls and Khadi stoles to Indian and Rosewood handcrafts and Kannauj perfumes. They all had once in a lifetime experience on this visit to India. This will impact favourably on India’s economic prospects and diplomatic advancement.

The larger gain from G20 is that by hosting the summit on such a grand scale of hospitality, providing for bilateral meetings with most visiting heads and presenting India as the flag bearer of the Global South and as a champion of humanitarian approach to economic development, India’s Presidency has converted this group of developed countries into a world forum where an unbiased view could be upheld on geopolitical developments, issues of global economy with particular reference to the lot of the developing countries and on crucial dimensions of ‘one earth one family’ like climate change, disaster management and gender equality.

India’s rise at the G20 summit as a world power was matched by its ascendancy in the region.

In the run-up to the Delhi summit, Prime Minister Modi emerged as the anchor of the ASEAN-India summit in Indonesia where he presented a framework of cooperation between India and ASEAN on issues such as connectivity, digital transformation, trade and economic partnership, collective fight against terrorism and terror funding and cyber disinformation.

Moreover, India defined the ASEAN stand on the Indo-Pacific and Prime Minister Modi emphasised that the code of conduct for the South China Sea should be effective and should take into account the interests of countries not involved in it. Indian Prime Minister has shown an exceptional ability to go into the security concerns of India and actively lead strategic, diplomatic and political initiatives to do what was best for this country.

The role of India’s National Security Advisor in all of this stands out when one looks back on what his predecessors did in moments of national crisis like 26/11 and the radical onslaught of Pak ISI in Kashmir in the early Nineties.

Prime Minister Modi’s justification of friendship with the US is based not on any compulsion of humouring the latter as a superpower but on a conviction that India and the US as the two largest democracies with the proven credentials of their electoral systems, must lead the democratic world against the dictatorial regimes - amongst them the Marxist China and the ‘fundamentalist’ Pakistan - for the larger good of the world.

India under the Modi regime has been able to achieve convergence of thought with countries like the US, the UK, Japan, Australia and even Saudi Arabia. The announcement of the India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor in the presence of representatives of the US, France, Germany, EU, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Turkey, proved this.

Prime Minister Modi highlighted the need for respecting the sovereignty of all nations implicitly conveying his disapproval of the CPEC under China’s Belt& Road Initiative(BRI) that cut through POK in the face of strong protests from India. India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor is also meant to curb the rise of Islamic Radicals with their faith-based terrorism, who were evidently receiving support from the Sino-Pak axis.

The recent large terrorist attack of Hamas on Israel is the outcome, among other things relating to the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict, of a constant spread of radicalisation in the Muslim world. The G20 Presidency has helped India to isolate its adversaries and widen the area of support for its strategy of dealing with them.

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