Critics of the Group of 8 (G8) Summit find the annual pow-wow similar to a beauty pageant — with the participants remaining unchanged. The eight nations representing about 65 per cent of the global economy — and about 14 per cent of the global population — meet each year and make announcements ranging from world peace and saving the planet in a manner that Miss Worlds would be proud of. But in a world that is increasingly interconnected, the concerns of non-G8 countries are willy-nilly the concerns of those representing their nations between June 6 and June 8 at the 33rd G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany.
Take something as geographically ‘neutral’ as climate change. The squabble between developing countries and industrialised ones is intricately caught up in matters related to economics and trade. To expect an eight-member club to draw up an action plan for the whole world is like ordering one beer for a truckload of the thirsty. This story is replicated in trading practices and tackling debt. The usual inference that corruption in Third World States gobbles up aid is only (a convenient) part of the picture. Of course, national interest is paramount even in an international forum such as the G8. But not at the cost of nations that exist outside the club doors.
But even within the G8, there are fissures. This week, one is expected to see Russia fending off charges of being churlish after President Vladimir Putin accused the US of trying to slip in a Cold War-style arms race if Washington goes ahead with its plans to deploy a missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic. The fact that the US, especially after scrapping the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty in 2002, can be perceived as behaving in a bellicose manner is not simply Mr Putin’s paranoia acting up. Post-2001, countering terrorism has also become part and parcel of the G8 agenda and squabbles over sauerkraut in this department won’t be a surprise. India and other countries sitting on the sidelines should follow the fun and take notes regarding what the eight richest countries are thinking — warts and all.