Global Affairs Desk

Tue Jun 18 2024

India's G20 Presidency- Challenges and Opportunities

~ By Aarush Joshi on 4/23/2023

India's G20 Presidency- Challenges and Opportunities

India will make the G20 a “catalyst for global change” and its presidency of the group in 2023 will be inclusive and action-oriented, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday amid persisting differences among the world’s largest economies over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The G20 Presidency was handed over to India by Indonesia, earlier this week and Prime Minister Modi said that India was taking charge of the G20 at a “time when the world is simultaneously grappling with geopolitical tensions, economic slowdown, rising food and energy prices and the long-term ill-effects of the pandemic”. He congratulated Widodo for his “efficient leadership” of the G20 in difficult times.

Speaking in Hindi, he said: “At such a time, the world is looking at the G20 with hope. Today, I want to assure you that India’s G20 presidency will be inclusive, ambitious, decisive and action-oriented.”

In reference to global tensions and divisions triggered by the crisis in Ukraine Modi said future generations won’t be able to take advantage of economic growth without peace and security. “The G20 has to convey a strong message in favour of peace and harmony. All these priorities are fully embodied in the theme of India’s G-20 chairmanship – ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future,” he emphasised.

India will formally begin its presidency on December 1 and host the next summit in New Delhi in September 2023. Modi said India will strive to ensure the G20 “acts as a global prime mover to envision new ideas and accelerate collective action”. The benefits of development should be universal and all-inclusive, and extended to everyone with compassion and solidarity, he said.

Prime Minister Modi also highlighted the role of women in global development, by saying “We have to maintain priority on women-led development even in our G20 agenda.” Noting that the “sense of ownership over natural resources” is creating conflict, Modi said this is the main cause of the plight of the environment. A sense of trusteeship is the solution for the planet’s safe future and India’s LiFE or ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ can make a contribution in this context. Prime Minister Modi said it was a “very auspicious coincidence” that India assumed the G20 presidency in “this holy island of Bali”, which has an age-old relationship with India. This is also a proud occasion for Indians as the country will organise G20 meetings in different cities and states.

“Our guests will get a full experience of India’s amazing diversity, inclusive traditions and cultural richness. We wish that all of you will participate in this unique celebration in India, the ‘Mother of Democracy,” he added. Earlier, Modi told the summit’s session on digital transformation that India’s G20 presidency will focus on bridging the digital divide, especially in developing countries, and ensuring greater benefits from digital technologies.

“The principle of ‘data for development will be an integral part of the overall theme of our presidency, ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future,” he said. India is making digital access public but there is a huge digital divide at the international level and citizens of most developing countries don’t have “any kind of digital identity” while only 50 nations have digital payment systems, he said.

During the course of its G-20 Presidency—from 1 December 2022 to 30 November 2023—India aims to hold around 200 meetings involving 32 different sectors in multiple locations across the country, highlighting India’s development journey over the last 75 years. India is keen to play the role of a “leading power”—one that sets rules and shapes outcomes—and this Presidency could not have come at a more opportune time for showcasing India’s capabilities.

The world is beginning to evolve rapidly and the challenges are plenty-the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the US-China contestations, and the withering away of the multilateral order are all fracturing the world in unprecedented ways. The world is grappling with the fundamental transformations brought in by shifting power balance, technological overreach, and institutional decay.

These underlying shifts have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict, resulting in global inflationary pressures, food and energy crises, and widespread economic downturn. Nations are frantically scraping their coffers to provide for their citizens’ basic needs, and we are standing farther from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The G20 is perhaps the only platform of its kind that can claim a degree of legitimacy.

India’s G20 Presidency will be aiming to move the world away from polarisation towards a greater sense of solidarity. Its own reality of being a multicultural democracy should guide it well in bringing together highly diverse stakeholders to cogitate and act, on global challenges. The theme of G20 India 2023—Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: One Earth, One Family, One Future—encapsulates India’s conceptualisation of the global order and its own role in it.

And New Delhi has shown that it does not dwell merely on rhetoric. In 2020 as COVID-19 first surged, it insisted on the need for the international community to work together and help those struggling with the least resources, even as developed nations focused inwards, some of them hoarding enough vaccines to inoculate each adult five times over.

By hosting one of the highest-profile international gatherings ever at a time of great turbulence, New Delhi is signalling its readiness to think big and deliver big—something that much of the world had long expected from India.

The road ahead is a difficult one. The G20 is not a panacea for the global governance deficit and the constraints are significant. But with effective leadership from India, this will be an opportunity to reinvigorate the multilateral order from the stupor it has sunk into in the past few years. India’s push for “reformed multilateralism” will gain greater credibility with its effective stewardship of the G20. India today is willing to shoulder its share of the global burden. How effective it will be in shaping the global agenda at the G20 will also depend on how willing others are in reflecting seriously on the present-day disorder. New Delhi is pulling out all the stops and aiming high.

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