One of the most important significance of the heads of state of G20 nations meeting at Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy in Washington DC was "a clear indication that the balance of power is shifting in favour of emerging economies," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.
While India had been invited earlier to G8 discussions informally, "our views were not really taken into account. This is for the first time that there was genuine dialogue between developed countries and major emerging countries," Singh told reporters soon after leaving Washington, on way to Frankfurt.
It didn't begin that way, Singh confessed. "When Bush spoke to me about this idea, I said that if preparation was inadequate, it would prove counter-productive." Europe and the US may not agree, emerging countries and developed nations may differ, Singh said.
"There was no attempt to score partisan points," he said. "The meeting could be described as a very successful affair."
A sentiment echoed by outgoing US President George Bush who earlier told reporters in Washington that, "I thought this was a very successful summit."
Having invited G20 --- over G8 or G13 --- questions about the possibility to reach an agreement cropped up. "I'm pleased to report the answer to that question was, absolutely," Bush said, reminding reporters that "they're going to meet again. I keep saying 'they' because some of you may not have heard yet, but I am retiring."
The group, Singh said, realised that developing countries were going to be the worst sufferers because of the crisis for no fault of theirs through. "The growth of exports was going down, the flow of capital and direct investment was slowing down," he said.
"There were attempts on the part of the foreign capital to fly out putting pressure on the exchange rate of a number of developing countries. Also there was a danger that the flow of remittance from overseas workers may also decline."
It is commendable that an effort that is being loosely termed as Bretton Woods II, took just three weeks to prepare --- Bretton Woods that laid the foundation of multilateral agencies like IMF and World Bank had taken all of two years.
All eyes are now on the next meeting of this group that the Canadian Prime Minister termed "L20 (leaders of 20)" on April 30, 2009.
(With V Krishna in Washington)