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DC Edit | At G-20 helm, India to have its task cut out


Published on: November 17, 2022 | Updated on: November 17, 2022

Bali: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses at the G-20 Summit in Bali, Session III: Digital Transformation, in Bali (Photo: PTI)

It is a bumpy road on which India must drive the geopolitically powerful G-20 representing about two-thirds of the world’s eight billion population and owning 85 per cent of the global economy. For a second developing nation to helm the G-20 is a great honour for India. But beyond the slogans, themes, and the flowers, what India does in providing the impetus to around 200 meetings at various levels and helping keep the lines of communication open all the while will define the nation’s success as a global interlocutor.

It may be blindingly obvious that no time is a good time for war, but Narendra Modi saying it to Vladimir Putin in Samarkand that "this is not the era for war" seems to have struck such a chord that the G-20 declaration incorporated the expression in its declaration. The consensus was arrived at after difficult negotiations between those vociferously condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and others more guarded like China and India.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov was at the summit though he flew out before it concluded, fuming over Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s address to the nations assembled. It was India that took the lead for resolving the deadlock over the wording of the declaration by at least 19 of the 20 participants on Ukraine.  The situation was clearly made more difficult by Russia lobbing 100 missiles at Ukraine even as the G-20 was in session in Bali, Indonesia.

India’s reasoning behind its call to stop the war has less to do with Gandhian pacifism as it is pragmatic because the Ukraine war is affecting growth globally, raising inflation to uncontrollable levels, disrupting supply chains, including, crucially, of fertiliser, raising concerns over food security and triggering major financial security risks. The G-20 is not a forum for security but focussing on the deadly repercussions of the war may have helped convince the West to defuse the focus on sanctions and claims for reparations that would have done nothing to ease the path towards ending the hostilities.

India’s faith in diplomacy and dialogue may be severely tested over the next 12 months from December in which India will be heading the G-20 before handing over the baton to Brazil, a third developing country, to take the forum forward. As a leader from among the emerging economies, India’s voice will be an important one and it could be looked up to as a spokesperson for a development-driven agenda. The accent on an Indian model of a digital revolution for many on the planet to follow may benefit those at the very bottom of the pyramid in all those nations.

India is determined to focus on women’s empowerment, health, green energy and food security to streamline an agenda for the group. As a world leader in pushing for renewable energy sources, India may be in a perfect position to initiate global actions in this direction to help with the massive effort needed to meet climate change mitigation goals. How it goes about helping to bridge inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic may define how India manages this special assignment before and at the Jammu and Kashmir summit in 2023.