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India Sets the Bar High for G20 Presidency

India has made the best use of its G20 presidency to position itself as an up and coming global power. With emphasis on ‘One Earth, One Family, and One Future’, India used developmental diplomacy to address pressing global issues.
Flags G20 membership , Concept of the G20 summit or meeting, G20 countries summit India, Group of Twenty members, 3d illustration and 3d work

Flags G20 membership , Concept of the G20 summit or meeting, G20 countries summit India, Group of Twenty members, 3d illustration and 3d work © Fly Of Swallow Studio /

October 23, 2023 10:50 EDT

Last year, India, which in Indian languages and officially is called Bharat, assumed the presidency of the G20 in Bali. This came at a time when world politics was fraught and the global economy was weakening. The world was still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis was intensifying. 

India took on the leadership of the G20 to improve international cooperation and development. That is why its motto was “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” a classical Sanskrit phrase that means the world is one family. It evokes the spirit that not only human beings but also all living beings and nature are interconnected. This phrase implies that we have to be mindful of the interconnectedness of cause and consequence.

The G20 Summit was held in New Delhi on September 9 and 10 this year, after months of meetings and events in various Indian cities. There were fears that the Russia-Ukraine War had proved so decisive that the customary joint statement at the end of the summit might prove elusive. Countries would not be able to agree upon it. However, India proved its mettle as a consensus builder. Furthermore, it championed the voices of the marginalized and welcomed the African Union (AU) as the 21st member of the G20. India’s focus on the challenges of the future and developmental diplomacy were a triumph in a trying year for the world.

India’s success in developmental diplomacy 

India’s presidency of the G20 proved to be the most ambitious and action-oriented leadership of this young grouping of nations and supranational organizations. With 112 outcomes, India has more than doubled the substantive work from previous presidencies. Thanks to deft diplomacy, the Delhi Declaration was unanimously adopted on the inaugural day.

This 83-paragraph declaration proposes to scale up inclusive action against climate change with a green development pact and sustainable development goals. It also admits the AU, puts crypto-asset regulation on the global agenda, and commits to reforming multilateral development banks (MDBs). Given the massive developmental challenge facing African countries, reforming the MDBs is a top global priority and India, to its credit, has put it on the global agenda.

The declaration also emphasizes counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering efforts because security is a prerequisite for development. To a limited degree, the declaration overcame the trust deficit that has emerged after the Russia-Ukraine War. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message — “today’s era must not be of war” — resonated strongly with almost everyone who attended the G20 Summit.

India’s use of human-centric approach

Modi also called for a human-centric approach to address global challenges. What does this really mean? Simply put, the prime minister believes that we must put the common man’s needs of food, water, shelter, clothing, clean air, jobs and basics at the center of all developmental action.

This approach led to major outcomes such as the Green Development Pact and the Action Plan on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). India also promoted its plan for Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) as a technological solution for financial inclusion. This DPI plan could help millions of people in developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia.

To improve food security, this summit agreed upon research cooperation on climate-friendly nutritious millets. The Modi government has single-handedly introduced the millets initiative, which has now gained acceptance worldwide. Clearly, India’s developmental diplomacy is bearing fruits.

The Delhi Declaration was forward-looking and launched two landmark initiatives. Both the Global Biofuel Alliance and the India-Middle East-European Union Economic Corridor (IMEC) might prove to be historic. The former addresses the critical challenge of lessening reliance on fossil fuels and thereby cutting down on toxic emissions destroying the planet. The latter could connect the EU, the Middle East and India in a closer economic relationship, creating millions of jobs and boosting economic growth in all three regions.

Modi deserves credit for providing a new vision and clear direction for the G20. As retired CIA officer Glenn Carle has said, India is now growing confident in its new role as a powerful nation. As per Carle, “India has become one of the world’s three great powers. It ranks next only to the US and China in global significance.”

The G20 Summit demonstrates that a new great power is on the rise. With its new developmental agenda and leadership of the Global South, India is a force to reckon with. Modi has emerged as a global leader and India will play a consequential role in making the world a better place.
[Throvnica Chandru edited this piece.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.


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