G20 Summit reinstates India’s rising status

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at the G20 Summit held in New Delhi Bharat Mandapam on September 9, 2023 (PMO Photo)

Our Leader in Indian Newslink September 15, 2023 Digital Edition

Venkat Raman
Auckland, September 15, 2023

From all accounts, the Annual G20 Summit held in New Delhi on September 9 and 10, 2023 under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a resounding success. It helped set on course a series of political, fiscal and socio-economic measures, which will spell a new era of cooperation among existing and emerging economic powerhouses.

The fact that the Final Declaration was reached on the first day without much haggling (not at the Summit at least) was a testimony to India’s superb diplomacy and its genuine concern to achieve harmony and concerted action on a global scale.

The theme of the two-day Summit to which Mr Modi committed his Nation and the world- Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: One Earth, One Family, One Future became the mantra of the leaders present at the proceedings. The world watched, somewhat with awe, the capability of India in organising such a massive gathering with the tall order of security of the leaders in attendance, not to forget various other arrangements.

About G20 and Beyond

The Group of Twenty (G20) comprises 19 countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Türkiye, United Kingdom and United States) and the European Union. The G20 members represent around 85% of the global GDP, over 75% of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population.

It was a singular achievement that the African Union became a permanent member of G20, upgraded from its Observer status. The Union represents 55 countries and accounts for the world’s largest free trade area and as such will make a big difference to the world body.

The G20 Summit also had special invitees, among whom were Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu, Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tarik al-Said, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. As well as the US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the Summit had the presence of the heads of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, the World Trade Organisation, the International Labour Organisation, the Financial Stability Board and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

G20 Member Countries account for 85% of Global GDP and 75% of the Global Trade. The G20 Summit 2023 in session at Bharat Mandapam, New Delhi on September 10, 2023 (PMO Photo)

Accolades from China

China praised the G20 Declaration, saying that it sent a positive signal to the world.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that her country had always supported the G20 and believed that its members should “stand in solidarity and cooperate on global issues.”

“The summit adopted a leaders’ declaration, which reflects China’s proposition and states that the G20 would act in concrete ways through partnerships, sending a positive signal of the G20 working together to tackle global challenges and promote world economic recovery and global development. It reflected our views and showed that the G20 was working together to tackle global challenges and promote development,” she said.

This is the first time that Beijing has commented on the declaration.

Several other countries, including the UK and the US, praised the joint statement, which avoided condemning Russia, a key strategic ally of China, for its war against Ukraine.

Russia also hailed the Declaration as a “Milestone.’

However, Ukraine, which was not represented at the Summit, expressed its disappointment saying that the Declaration was “nothing to be proud of.”

The Voice of the Global South

Since its Independence in 1947, India’s foreign policy has prioritised relations with the poor world, chiefly through its leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement. Under Mr Modi, India has renewed this focus through a promise to represent and lead what has come to be called the Global South.

He has been championing the cause of the Global South and the G20 Summit became the centre-stage for its voice to be heard.

About a fortnight earlier at the BRICs Summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa (which chaired the meeting) declared that its goal was to ‘advance the agenda of the Global South,’ which was also a strong point of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the Summit of the Group of Seven Wealthy Democracies.

The G20 grouping comprises mostly the Global North and hence Mr Modi had obtained the views of the Global South at a special meeting held in January.

External Affairs Minister Dr Jaishankar Subrahmanyam said that when India assumed the G20 Presidency in December 2022, the Modi government was acutely conscious that most of the Global South would not be at G20.

“This mattered very much because the really urgent problems are those faced by them. To discuss their concerns without providing a fair hearing appeared extremely unfair. And India, itself a part of the Global South, would not stand by and let that happen. Therefore, Prime Minister Modi decided to convene the Voice of The Global South Summit in January 2023. We heard from 125 nations directly about their challenges and priorities. And on their behalf, these have been made central to the G20 agenda,” he said.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi on September 9, 2023 (PMO Photo)

The Territories

Despite its name, Global South is not a geographical term. Many countries included in the Global South are in the Northern Hemisphere (India and China for example) and all of those in the northern half of Africa. Australia and New Zealand, both in the Southern Hemisphere, are not in the Global South. Many cite the so-called Brandt Line as the border; a squiggle across the globe running from the north of Mexico, across the top of Africa and the Middle East, looping around India and China before dropping down to encompass most of East Asia while avoiding Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

The line was proposed by former German Chancellor Willy Brandt in the 1980s as a visual depiction of the north-south divide based on per-capita GDP.

Happymon Jacob, Founder of the New Delhi-based Council for Strategic and Defence Research described the Global South as a geographical, geopolitical, historical and developmental concept, all at the same time, with exceptions.

Swasti Rao, an Associate Fellow at the Europe and Eurasia Centre of the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses said that the consensus achieved in the Declaration showed the cemented role of India as a trustworthy fulcrum of a world bitterly divided on geopolitical issues like the Ukraine war.

“There is little doubt that middle order powers wish to keep the global economic order multipolar and not fall into the Chinese game of dominating it.”

That was one of the highlights of the G20 Summit.

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