Breakthrough 2023: G20 presidency is an opportunity to present diversity that is India to the world
Economics Times, December 30, 2022

In less than a year’s time from now, India will host its maiden G20 Summit showcasing its intellectual heft to give direction to the world and the Global South in particular, sending a clear message on strategic autonomy amid tumultuous geopolitics and geoeconomics that have polarised the world into two camps.

While over 40 years ago, India hosted NAM and the Commonwealth Summits, the G20 presidency is an opportunity to present the diversity that is India to the outside world. The current India is among the world’s top five economies and is increasingly being courted by the international community in the backdrop of an aggressive China. “India’s G20 is not merely a diplomatic meeting.

It is a great opportunity for India and for every Indian. Our prime minister has said, ‘Today, there is an unprecedented curiosity in the world to know and understand India. Today, India is being studied in new light. Our current successes are being assessed and unprecedented hopes are being expressed about our future’,” according to PK Mishra, principal secretary to the PM.

He was speaking at the G20 University Connect: ‘Engaging Young Minds Programme’ earlier this month. Launching with the Sherpa meeting in Udaipur that brought all different ideologies under one roof, India will host over 200 G20 meetings under different formats — ministerial, working group and engagement group meetings, and associated events — in 56 locations touching all states and union territories during its presidency. Narendra Modi’s vision of India’s G20 presidency, is reflected in the theme ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, or ‘One Earth One Family’.

In the words of Modi, India’s presidency will be “inclusive, ambitious, decisive and action-oriented”. Briefing envoys of G20 states and invitees at a meeting in Andamans, Sherpa Amitabh Kant referred to shared priorities in areas such as (i) public digital goods and digital infrastructure; (ii) climate action, climate finance and technology collaboration; (iii) clean, sustainable, affordable and inclusive energy transition; (iv) accelerated progress on sustainable development goals; (v) women-led development; and (vi) multilateral reforms.

Building on the Indian PM’s mass movement on Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE), India will work closely on critical enablers for climate action that the G20 Leaders agreed at the Rome Summit, namely affordable financing, technology transfer, and action on SDG 12 — that is sustainable consumption and production. India is going to focus on accelerating the progress on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), by raising the profile of development issues throughout the G20 working streams.

The emphasis will be on transformative areas and transitions that can catalyse multiplier effects on all SDGs such as women-led development, digital transformations, and just green transitions. India has always been a strong and vocal voice of the developing world at various international fora, including the G20. India intends to bring to the fore issues relevant to developing countries during its G20 presidency.

“India is widely perceived as the ‘voice of the Global South’, which puts a greater responsibility on New Delhi,” according to country’s G20 chief coordinator Harsh Vardhan Shringla. “India’s G20 presidency will be a golden chance to correct the long-standing anomalies that go against the developing countries, especially in the domain of agriculture and food subsidies.”

The 2023 G20 Summit would promote ‘Brand India’, encourage tourism and digitisation in India, support B2B contacts, and set India’s priorities and narratives on the global agenda, he said. “By setting an effective agenda, New Delhi can navigate a turbulent world beset by problems such as post-Covid economic recovery, Russia-Ukraine conflict, slowing down of the SDG agenda, debt crisis, and the looming recession,” Shringla said. “India’s sound credential as a peaceful nation oriented towards growth and digital transformation, and is sensitive about climate change and green development, will help her lead the G20 with vigour, efficiency and conviction,” he said.

G20 needs to work to create post-pandemic resilient societies. “Sustainable lifestyles need investments in education, nutrition, and health,” Shringla said. “We need to work with our partners to promote and mobilise investments in these vital sectors for the benefit of all, especially the developing world.” In the words of Pradeep Mehta, secretary general, CUTS International (India’s leading public-policy and advocacy body), “India gave the number zero to the world without which no science or technology would have progressed.

Professing our civilisational history, including the zero or even yoga, we need to use the opportunity of the G20 Summit to put in motion paradigms which can help the world to deal with the extraordinary situations of climate and economic depression. To ensure the COP27 recommendation of a damage and loss fund to compensate the vulnerable states, and debt forgiveness, we must advocate for a neutral fund collected from the Tobin or Financial Transaction Tax which can help raise money without burdening any state to use for world’s rejuvenation”.

In a unique initiative, India, during its presidency, will invite Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and the United Arab Emirates as guest countries for the Summit. Oman and the UAE are also attending all G20 related events in the run-up to the Summit

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