India has taken the presidency of G20 from December 1 onwards. What is the significance of G20 presidency, what are the opportunities and the challenges, before India and what are the opportunities that India can exploit from these issues and challenges, these are things that need to be discussed.
First of all, the G20 is a mix of 20 countries, both developed and developing countries. India has taken the presidency from one year, starting from December 1, 2022 to 30 November, 2023. India has taken the presidency at a time when the global economy is in a bad shape. There are some reports coming out that from next year onwards, the global recession is going to start. The signs are already visible in Europe and the US and including the big economies like China.
Secondly, the global politics scenario is not conducive, mired with the Russia-Ukraine conflict which started this year and that pulled the western countries into Russia’s invasion into Ukraine. Developing countries like India, are sitting on the fence not to be part of any of these groups. Rather, they want the conflict to be resolved amicably and peacefully for the global good. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has put a lot of pressure on the global economy in terms of the energy crisis, with Europe already facing the brunt.
The third aspect before India in its presidency, is the pandemic. Since 2020, it has broken the global supply chain and it has also affected the global economy and the manufacturing sectors. China, which used to be the manufacturing hub, is slowly losing its hold and we are not getting cheap products from China. The western countries who are major importers of goods from China are now diversifying their manufacturing units from China to elsewhere, including India. Perhaps it will open opportunities for India to tap into those resources.
India’s presidency also comes at a time when Chinese President Xi Jinping has got himself re-elected to the party congress which ended last month. Both India and China are also at loggerheads at Line of Actual Control, LAC. The border issue still remains unresolved and there is no status quo restored. These are the context in which India has taken the presidency.
Now, what are the positive points that India has, when it has taken the presidency. This is clearly outlined in the article written by Prime Minister Narendra Modi which has clearly outlined the goals and the goalpost for India’s presidency. The mantra has already been mentioned in the Bali summit- ‘one earth, one family, one future’.
The action plan which is mentioned in the prime minister’s article has very clearly outlined that India’s presidency of G20 will be more inclusive, ambitious and decisive and action oriented. It shows that the G20 format will be different from the past, in next one year, and for that goal, the preparations have already been made in the diplomatic circles with the other stakeholders also being pulled in.
The prime minister has also mentioned that the first and foremost task for India is to change the mindset within the G20 which differentiates the developing countries from developed countries, even while facing common issues like climate change, global supply chains and financial stability.
So far, the G20 format is very much confined to three-four broad areas- Global Financial Sustainability, Global Trade, Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals. India’s presidency will bring more activism, and it will also try to bring a consensus on issues such as climate change, carbon emissions, the technology denied by the developed countries to the developing countries to meet the climate emission targets. These are the issues that are going to be the priorities for India.
There are expectations from India that are rather interesting. The developing countries look at India with the hope that India will be the voice for the developing countries or under-developed, poor countries, negotiating a better deal from the G20 within the G20 format from the developed countries.
Then there are the expectations of developed countries from India’s presidency. The German envoy has also hinted that there is a responsibility that India in its presidency would help resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict. And it has been circulating among the diplomatic circles in New Delhi whether India will mediate between Russia and Ukraine, given its goodwill and relationship with Vladimir Putin. So, there is this expectation of developed countries whether India’s presidency will restore the global harmony and global peace, something the title of G20 already categorically mentions.
The issues are large and diverse, the challenges are multiple, and accordingly, India has to fix the priorities. From an academic point of view, there are some priorities that India must look into.
The first and foremost priority is to revive the global supply chain broken as a result of the pandemic. This will rejuvenate and bring new enthusiasm into the global economy to revive. It will also help in addressing the global recession
The second priority area will be the financial stability which has been deterred and threatened by the crypto-currencies and bitcoin. So there needs to be a global consensus on regulating the crypto-currencies and bitcoin at the global level. I think India should keep this a priority to evolve a consensus of all the G20 members to bring a global regulatory mechanism for the crypto-currencies and the bitcoins for financial stability. Recently, we have witnessed the crash of the crypto market, with investors losing a lot of money.
Third, as I said as the part of the expectations, is to negotiate a better deal and bring a win-win situation in the climate change debate, by getting some concessions from the developed countries in terms of technology to help the developing and the under-developed countries to meet their energy requirements, without compromising the climate change goals. This is something India should work for. Few years ago, India had provided the leadership in creating the Global Solar Alliance, seen as India’s contribution in the global energy scenario. India can bring their experience into this, and that would also help the developing and the under-developed countries, who are labelled as the major carbon emitters.
When it comes to financial stability, India’s experience of digitisation of the financial market in the last year 7 -10 years based on the 2015 Digital India campaign would help it to share its experience in the G20 forum. External Affairs Minister S Jaishanker shared how when asked for Covid RT-PCR report by Washington DC authorities, he could show them the digital copy of the report on his phone, much to their surprise. So India has proven experience of bringing in the digitalisation in governance model to a diverse, huge landscape.
Having said all these things, the question remains whether India will bring any sort of political agenda for the G20 in terms of resolving ongoing conflicts which are slowly dragging the western European countries and other countries, in terms of militarisation, in terms of protective mechanisms, and also affecting the energy markets.
I think, with its goodwill with Russia and other western countries, India can evolve a sort of consensus. This has been articulated by the foreign secretary when he said that Russia will be a part of the next one year G20 format, and will be represented in every group and sub-grouping. This is very unique in international politics, making a multilateral forum, people-centric and people-oriented, and making it as a movement. We have seen that many groups have been created to ensure the active participation of youth of G20 countries. The youth have the talent, they have the innovation and they are the future. They can commonly shape this future. They are the primary stakeholders, who with their energy and innovation, would steer the global economy in next 10-15 years.
India has the capacity to leverage its potential to lead and it is a golden opportunity for India to prove its global leadership. We have seen during the pandemic; despite having a huge population to vaccinate, India had started the Vaccine Maitri project, which was received very well in the least-developed and under-developed country, leading to appreciation from the UN.
From a humanitarian point of view, India’s Mantra of ‘one earth, one family, one future’, will break the monopolisation of public goods. The next year will be tightly packed for India’s diplomatic group as well as the mini-groups that have been created. The next year is challenging in view of the early signs of recessions in European countries. But with its capabilities and experience, its decisiveness, I hope that India will definitely steer through these turbulent times, and its rich cultural heritage will bring the confidence that we can evolve a consensus within the G20 to identify and address the common problems.