Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Image: PTI)
India has invested time and energy in making a success of G-20. To judge how effective the 18th summit of the world’s biggest economies would be on the strength of a joint communique would be unfair. The Ukraine war, courtesy a Russian invasion, will be the stumbling block towards capping the summit season with a decisive declaration document. There is reason to fear the New Delhi summit becoming the first one without a joint communique, which was somehow managed in Bali last year.
Having held close to 200 meetings on various topics in seeking consonance in its year of rotational G-20 presidency, India would like to judge success in having brought the world together in its most significant platform outside of the United Nations.
Ahead of the G-20, Prime Minister Narendra Modi fired verbal salvos from the Asean-India and East Asia summits at China for its obstinacy not only on the border situation with India but also about the world at large to which it is putting the spanner in the works regarding consensus on any subject while promoting a China-Russia axis.
India’s ambition of melding the voices of the Global South, largely comprising the economically less powerful countries of the Asian and African continents, into a concerted global message is reflected in its own progress from a state of passive non-alignment in its early days of independence to a more active state of being a recognised facilitator for those who inhabit large swathes of the globe.
The difficulties of negotiating a commonality of purpose in tackling the problems that affect all nations in the modern era notwithstanding, India is aiming at a consensus on such matters pertaining to multilateral initiatives like a global digital architecture and forging a common stand on cryptocurrencies. It is up to this vast assembly of nations, including guest countries that India has chosen from the West and East to widen the G-20 reach, to see the benefits of a joint approach at the weekend summit.
The United States is also determined to show the world the international infrastructure development finance pathway, to be financed by the West through the likes of the World Bank, as an alternative to countries being lured by Chinese debt diplomacy, as accentuated in the Belt & Road Initiative. There is a need to take a hard look at existing international debt structures and loans to developing countries if the West is serious about stopping countries falling prey to Chinese overtures.
The formation of the G-20 was to promote economic and trade cooperation and the current summit should go back to roots and swing away from wars and politics while looking at what is possible in tackling other problems.
No one has a ready solution to global warming caused by climate change and few are prepared to phase out fossil fuels — though there has been an agreement on "phasedown of coal power" — unless alternatives are substantially financed by the original polluters.
A focus on what is possible rather than peripheral issues like who did not make it to the summit may help a great deal in addressing issues that can be of benefit to the vast number of countries whose representatives are assembled in New Delhi. As the lead ‘sherpa’, India has done much to bring this impressive assembly about.