The G-20 summit offers India a strategic opportunity to emerge as one of the stabilizing poles in a world with growing geopolitical uncertainty.
Foreign policy has been aĀ key highlightĀ of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modiās first term. In the last four years, Indiaās global standing and diplomaticĀ footprintĀ have substantiallyĀ expanded. The latest G-20 summit in Argentina is the first to be hosted in South America. It marks a milestone for this evolving global forum of the worldās 20 largest economies.
The G-20 is the childĀ of the 2008 global financial crisis. It is an embodiment of the changing world order where China has emerged as a leading power. The forum has moved beyond its core agenda of stabilizing the world economy. It has emerged as the premier forum for international economic cooperation, a sort of a mini-UN, toward building an open world economy. But the G-20 is regularly criticized as a ātalk-shopā peddling a neoliberal agendaĀ with little regard for the developing economies and African continent āĀ South Africa is the sole African representative. The forum has also played an inadequate role in addressing challenges like climate change and reforming global financial institutions.
In Buenos Aires, Modi will be representing the poorest member of the group, with the lowest Human Development Index. But India also happens to be the fastest growing major economy in world. Amid the ongoing US-China trade war, an expanding migration crisis in South America, Brexit and rising tensions between Ukraine and Russiaā,ā India has an opportunity to use the G-20 forum to push ahead its underlying theme of building consensus for fair and sustainable development.
The host, Argentina, is itself theĀ showpieceĀ of the perils of neoliberal capitalism. Many Latin American countries continue to struggle when it comes to providing basic human necessities like security and food. The recentĀ currency crisisĀ in emerging markets has impacted Argentina, Turkey, and to a lesser extent, India as well. The future of employment and a sustainableĀ food futureĀ are two of the priorities for the G-20 agenda, both have a direct impact on India. Indiaās position should also be to argue for bringing downĀ stringentĀ migration barriers that target African and Asian workers coming to the West. Barriers on trade inĀ servicesĀ present another major challenge. Any debate on a sustainable food future is not possible without reaching an agreement on theĀ Doha RoundĀ negotiationsĀ that have remained stalled since 2008.
Modi might also consider setting up a permanent G-20Ā secretariatĀ and work with the EU and China to that effect. India should learn from its mistakes during theĀ Non-Aligned MovementĀ and must not hesitate to use the forum to target theĀ state-sponsored terrorismĀ coming out of Pakistan. Indiaās foreign policy goal at the summit should include highlighting itsĀ candidacyĀ for permanent member of the UN Security Council andĀ freedom of navigationĀ in the South China Sea.
BilateralĀ and trilateral discussions led by US President Donald Trump tend to dominate the G-20. Such an approach undermines the forum and its relevance. India shall do well to represent the voice of the postcolonial developing world and bring back the focus on fair working conditions,Ā agricultureĀ and funding health and energy-related projects in developing economies.
The G-20 summit offers India a strategic opportunity to emerge as one of the poles in a world with growing geopolitical uncertainty. In his statement prior to attending the G-20 summit, Modi focused on āreformed multilateralismā to āstrengthen collective action for global good.ā It is essential for Indian interests that the G-20 is not reduced to a transatlantic affair and a talkfest of trade lobbies.
The views expressed in this article are the authorās own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observerās editorial policy.