India G20 Presidency — A Potential Watershed Moment? - Hindustan Times
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India G20 Presidency — A Potential Watershed Moment?

ByHindustan Times
Jan 28, 2023 06:01 PM IST

This article has been authored by Ananya Raj Kakoti and Gunwant Singh, scholars of international relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Amidst the ongoing chaos in the global world order, the G20 Summit in Bali came as a ray of hope as it provided a platform where the principal economies of the world came together to try and find a common ground in an increasingly divergent world. The foundational principle of G20 has always been collective action and inclusive partnership among the developed and emerging economies of the world. It is one of the most significant and strategic multilateral platforms of this age as its members collectively constitute over 85 per cent of the global GDP, 75 per cent of global trade and house two-thirds of the world population.

India assumed the G20 presidency in December and will convene the G20 Leaders’ Summit for the first time in the country in 2023. (AFP) PREMIUM
India assumed the G20 presidency in December and will convene the G20 Leaders’ Summit for the first time in the country in 2023. (AFP)

Initially, the G20 Summits focused only on matters of macroeconomics, however over the years it has expanded its horizons beyond the economic sphere towards other aspects encompassing issues related to trade, sustainable development, climate change, energy, agriculture, anti-corruption, environment, health, and so on.

In the recent past, the world has seen some drastic events — from a global pandemic, extreme climate events, and more recently an inter-state war causing energy and food crises. All these problems impacted the entire globe thereby it is pertinent that the response to these problems should be of global nature. Against this backdrop the recently conducted Bali Summit, 2022 became all the more important as it is the first post-pandemic summit and taking place during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

The G20 Summit, 2022 held in Bali was successful in channelising the collective energy of the member states towards tackling most of these issues. Being the host, Indonesia while realising the common threats was able to bring together contesting countries and acted as a bridge, fulfilling the very purpose of the presidency.

The G20 forum works in two parallel tracks — the Finance Track and the Sherpa Track. Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors lead the Finance Track while Sherpas, who are personal emissaries of the Leaders, lead the Sherpa Track. Within the two tracks, there are different working groups based on different themes in which representatives from the relevant ministries of the member states, guest countries and various international organisations participate. There are Engagement Groups as well, which bring together civil societies, think tanks, women, youth, labour, businesses and researchers of the G20 countries. G20 does not have a permanent secretariat and the Presidency is supported by the Troika — which includes the previous, current and incoming Presidency. During India’s term, the troika will comprise Indonesia, India and Brazil, respectively.

With the conclusion of the G20 Summit, 2022 in Bali, India assumed the presidency for the next term on December 1, 2022. As India is trying to gain prominence on the global stage, this presidency offers a significant opportunity for India to step up and provide sustainable solutions to pressing international issues. India’s G20 theme “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” or “One Earth, One Family, One Future,” reflects India’s vision of uniting the entire world in pursuit of a common goal for a better future. Over the year, India will host global leaders through 200 meetings dealing with 32 different sectors across the country.

In the wake of the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia and the lack of diplomatic headway, India can use it as a great opportunity and leverage its historically cordial ties with Russia and bring it to the negotiation table to at least initiate discussion. Using its presidency to address the conflict while stressing peace will go a long way in raising India’s stature as a peace-prioritising leader, this is reflected in Prime Minister Modi's G20 communique where he reiterated that “today’s era must not be of war”. Although the G20 Summits do not deal with security issues directly, these issues still have a significant impact on the global economy, and hence India can lead the way to address them. Especially when the UN and other interventions have failed to resolve the conflict.

India can reflect on the achievements and challenges of the 2022 Bali summit, and act upon those to make the 2023 Summit more relevant. Amidst the challenges of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, a rising and assertive China instigating geopolitical tensions, India’s presidency and its capacity to revive the G20 summit will be tested. India can also lead the way for Global South cooperation as Indonesia and Brazil, the other countries of the Troika, are all emerging economies thus allowing them to use the platform to voice the concerns of the “Global South”. India can bridge the gap that exists between the Global North and the Global South on issues like climate change, renewable energy, intellectual property rights, carbon emissions, and trade

“Data for development” will also be a highlight of India’s presidency as pointed out by Prime Minister Modi, with the vision that the benefits of digital access are made accessible in an inclusive manner, which can lead to socioeconomic growth and transformation.

India has identified six shared priorities, which are green development, climate finance and lifestyle for the environment; accelerated, inclusive, and resilient growth; accelerating progress on sustainable development goals (SDGs); technological transformation and digital public infrastructure; multilateral institutions for the 21st century and women-led development.

During its presidency, India will also face several challenges, particularly stemming from East-West and North-South conflicts, which will require delicate balancing while navigating through its self-interests and global interests. To live up to the ideal of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” — the world is one family, India has to carefully steer the global agenda while taking into consideration the collective good. It should work on the developmental agenda while creating a road map for achieving a more resilient and inclusive economic order, as soon as possible. This G20 presidency also provides India with an opportunity to test its mettle in dealing with the changing global order, if a success, it will take India a step closer to creating further global prominence.

This article has been authored by Ananya Raj Kakoti and Gunwant Singh, scholars of international relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

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