India Gives G20 a Dimension of Inclusivity

Niranjan Marjani

6 mins - 14 de Septiembre de 2023, 07:00

The 18th G20 Summit presided over by India concluded in New Delhi on September 9-10. Expectations were high from this summit as it was taking place at a time when geopolitical interests have not only overshadowed economic priorities but have also increasingly played a divisive role at multilateral forums. To conduct a summit of a magnitude such as G20 was a steep challenge for India. However, India was able to deliver upon the promises it made as it assumed presidency from Indonesia in 2022. 

As the president India’s theme for the G20 Summit was ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’. This theme was derived from the Sanskrit phrase ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which means the whole world is one family. This phrase appears in ancient Indian text Maha Upanishad. In contemporary context it implies the interconnected nature of the world and any event in any part of the world has an impact on rest of the world. 

[Recibe los análisis de más actualidad en tu correo electrónico o en tu teléfono a través de nuestro canal de Telegram]

With economies across the world still recovering in the post-COVID era and are further being challenged by the Russia-Ukraine war, India sought to make inclusiveness as the theme of the G20 Summit and create an understanding about the need to cooperate in the economic domain

There are three major aspects about the inclusive nature of India’s G20 presidency.

Firstly, the biggest success for India as the G20 president was achieving the consensus and adopting the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration. Even before the start of the summit, there was uncertainty over release of the joint statement as the Russia-Ukraine war cast shadow over the summit. This was the second G20 Summit held after the start of the Russia-Ukraine war. The previous summit held in Bali, Indonesia witnessed sharp divide over the wording of the joint statement. Should the summit have ended without any joint declaration it would have considered as a failure of India’s presidency.

With Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin not travelling to New Delhi, this G20 Summit was poised to become a divided house. Already India’s presidency had witnessed certain setbacks as to the release of joint statements when some the meetings held in the last one year ended without a consensus. Notably the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in May this year did not have any joint statement as members differed over the Russia-Ukraine war. 

Given the complex nature of Russia’s and China’s relations with the rest of the G20 member countries, the consensus seemed difficult. However, India was successful in bringing together all the parties to agree upon common challenges such as climate change, terrorism, debt-restructuring of developing countries and energy cooperation. While stating that the G20 is an economic forum and not a platform to resolve geopolitical disputes the joint declaration acknowledged that geopolitics impacts global economy. The G20 member countries did not use any language condemning Russia but called upon all the countries to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries. India is not only a major economy and a geopolitical power, but also a vital link between the West and Russia. This is one of the principal factors that played the deciding role in forging the consensus. 

Secondly, inclusion of African Union as the permanent G20 member was another major highlight of this summit. From the time it assumed G20’s presidency, India stated its goal to promote and protect the interests of the Global South. All through the term of presidency, India has made efforts to reach out to the countries of Global South at bilateral level as well as through the platform of the G20. 

Any security threat, traditional or non-traditional, has the worst impact on the countries of the Global South or developing countries. The Russia-Ukraine war and the COVID-19 pandemic have already affected the economies of the Global South badly with the food, fuel and fertilizer supply chains being disrupted. The developing countries also suffer due to negative impacts of climate change. India highlighted these challenges and brought on board the G20 members to work towards reforming the multilateral financial institutions and multilateral development banks which would facilitate Global South to acquire financing their infrastructure requirements which are ecologically viable. 

Admission of the African Union as the permanent member accords recognition and representation to the African countries which are a part of the Global South but are economically and strategically important. Greater interaction between the African Union and the G20 members, particularly the developed countries, would bridge the gap between Global North and Global South to a certain extent. 

Thirdly, in continuation of the second aspect, India has made G20 shed its image as an elite club. Earlier G20 Summits used to be limited events with only the Heads of State or Government and Finance Ministers would deliberate. India has expanded the scope of the G20. There were 112 outcomes and presidency documents in this G20 Summit, which is more than three times the work done during any of the previous summits. A major challenge for the Global South in maneuvering in the international arena is lack of sufficient representation. India has addressed these lacunae and has initiated the process of making G20 more inclusive. Inclusion of African Union is the first important step. This step has brought the G20 from the periphery to the centre of the contemporary global order. India has not just displayed inclusivity at international level. It made G20 a public event. More than 200 meetings of the G20 were held in 60 cities across India. This way India ensured representation of all its regions. This exercise also allowed people all over India to participate in the G20. 

India has taken an important initiative of bridging the gap between developed and developing countries through its presidency of the G20. It is imperative for the next presidents of this grouping to continue building upon the inclusivity that India has infused in the G20. 

¿Qué te ha parecido el artículo?