It was in the end as Suresh Prabhu, minister for railways and India’s G20 sherpa, put it, an “excellent G20 summit” and not just a “talkfest” as some feared it would be.
Leaders of the world’s major economies agreed to pursue strategies that will lift the group’s GDP growth by at least 2% by 2018. They agreed “to monitor and hold each other to account” when it came to implementing commitments that would be vetted by international organisations.
The group will push for public and private sector investment in infrastructure and work to reduce the gender gap in the workforce by 25% through adding 100 million jobs for women by 2025.
The summit’s communiqué even had strong language on the delay in the reform of the IMF. The Summit yielded beneficial outcomes for India, thanks to the capable shepherding of its interests by Mr Prabhu and some pointed lobbying by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr Modi spoke forcefully about the repatriation of black money, which was echoed in the communique’s commitments on modernising tax rules and exchanging tax information among countries. India’s call to reduce the cost of transferring remittances was also adopted by the group, which said that it would take “strong practical measures” to reduce it to 5%. The G20’s receptivity to India’s concerns was clearly shaped by the recent India-US deal to end their impasse over the Trade Facilitation Agreement negotiated at the WTO.
The G20 summit was yet another public diplomacy triumph for Mr Modi, who is demonstrating great ease on the global stage. A piece in The Guardian said that he arrived in Brisbane as “the political rock star of the summit” and as the man that other leaders were seeking out during their time there.
Among others, Mr Modi met German Chancellor Angela Merkel and fortunately got to discuss, at a fairly early stage, the issue of dropping the German language from Kendriya Vidyalayas. The PM also gave a rousing speech to 16,000 Indian expats at Sydney.
Perhaps mindful of the millions watching at home, Mr Modi reminded audiences about his ambitions, achievements and the values he hoped they would pursue.
Asking expats to contribute to and participate in his Swachh Bharat campaign, Mr Modi said India should be as clean as the countries the diaspora finds itself in.
He noted the dignity of labour seen in Australia and hoped Indians would follow suit. He invited investors to participate in India’s infrastructure overhaul.
He said 75 million bank accounts had been opened during his time as PM and declared that unlike other governments which liked to devise new pieces of legislation he relished demolishing laws that stifled citizens. Such a clear reiteration of his philosophy of government is welcome.