On India’s G20 presidency, Jaishankar lists why these are challenging times
NEW DELHI: India is assuming the G20 presidency in challenging circumstances but will push the world’s biggest economies to find collective solutions to issues such as climate change and multilateral reforms while highlighting the concerns of developing nations, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday
NEW DELHI: India is assuming the G20 presidency in challenging circumstances but will push the world’s biggest economies to find collective solutions to issues such as climate change and multilateral reforms while highlighting the concerns of developing nations, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday.
In a tacit reference to India’s differences with China, Jaishankar said India is well-placed to manage contradictions and divergent agendas because of its independent foreign policy and ability to find common ground with different players. He made the remarks while addressing “University Connect”, an effort to involve youngsters in the country’s G20 presidency that began on December 1.
India, he said, is taking on a crucial responsibility at a “very challenging time in world politics” and at an inflection point in its own history. In this context, he cited the economic devastation and human toll of the Covid-19 pandemic, which aggravated the financial situation of developing countries, undermined the pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals and created a “health divide”.
In addition, countries are dealing with the impact of the Ukraine conflict, including shortages and high prices of fuel, food and fertilisers, and the long-term effects of extreme climate events.
Jaishankar also referred to divisions caused by the Ukraine crisis at the G20 Summit hosted by Indonesia last month and said: “Today the world is very polarised...Even having everybody in the room was a real challenge in the last G20 meeting in Bali.”
However, he said an independent-minded country such as India that is trusted in the Global South has the “middle ground” to bring the differing parties to the table to work with others. “It is also a time when we must become the voice of the Global South that is otherwise underrepresented in such forums. The countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America trust India to speak up for them,” he said.
He added: “India has to take the lead in pushing for collective action and that is exactly what we intend to do at the G20.” This includes action on pressing issues of the day, such as energy and food security, more equitable solutions to health challenges, sustainable development goals, indebtedness, climate justice and lack of resources for climate action.
India’s reputation for doing “what is right” and “good for the world will stand it in very good stead and I am confident we will overcome the geo-political challenges”, Jaishankar said. Since the G20 is a diverse platform that seeks to forge common ground on key issues, India will make “consensus more relevant through a wider process of consultations”, and this is reflected in the choice of nine guest countries such as Bangladesh and Egypt.
Indonesia and India played a key role in bridging differences between the West and Russia at the G20 Summit in Bali and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks that today’s era “is not of war” found an echo in the communique issued after the meet. However, the G20 remained divided on the Ukraine crisis, with most members criticising Russia’s invasion and others backing a different approach.
Jaishankar said India could also play a crucial role in helping find viable solutions to global problems, especially through its abilities in last-mile delivery through digital platforms, the response to public health challenges, and achievements in clean energy. At the same time, India will also push for reforms of multilateral institutions created 75 years ago since they do not reflect the current state of the world.
In an apparent reference to China, he said “countries with vested interests” will seek to slow down changes to the status quo but it will be difficult to keep India out of global decision-making processes when it is set to become the world’s most populous country and the third largest economy..
The prime minister’s principal secretary, PK Mishra, in his address at the same event, described India taking over the G20 presidency as a “watershed moment” and said: “India has as much uniqueness as it has diversity. We have a responsibility to bring out the best traditions of India before the world.”
The holding of G20 meetings at 56 locations across the country will showcase the pan-India nature of the event and every state, union territory and citizen is a stakeholder in the process, Mishra said. “Our global initiatives such as One Sun One World One Grid and the International Solar Alliance have been complemented by our domestic commitment for achieving 50% installed electricity capacity through non-fossil sources. If a country such as ours shows the way, then the world will have to follow,” he added.