In a polarised world, India will set the global agenda with 200 G20 meetings across the country
India takes the first step to assume the G20 presidency for the next one year in a world that is increasingly becoming complex. Prime Minister Narendra Modi leads the presidency in a world that is becoming more difficult to communicate. It is not similar to the Non-Aligned Movement, which was a third world action of balancing between the two key powers – the US and Russia.
India has given a call to end the Ukrainian War and Russian President Vladimir Putin has lauded Indian diplomacy from being free from pressure. India plans to make the presidency a grand show of diplomatic business. It will host over 200 meetings, addressing 32 different
sectors, during the period between December 1, 2022, and November 30, 2023, starting from Jammu
The diplomatic effort could be unique to exemplify India’s concern for
global issues where G20 definitely occupies a significant position for controlling the major part of the globe’s wealth, resources and the clout in the course of
economic and other actions. For Modi, it will be significant to establish brand India for which he has already decided on a lotus G20 logo. Could it be a revival of an era where Gamal Abdel Nasser, former Egyptian President, Marshal Tito, former Yogoslav
president, and Jawaharlal Nehru, first Indian prime minister, enjoyed a pivotal role in world politics?
The first spark was seen as Modi spoke in Bali, Indonesia, for a ceasefire in the Russia-Ukraine War in what is clearly an act of diplomatic grandstanding. Two months ago, Modi met Russian President Vladimir Putin and said something about this not being an "age of war" in what might be seen by some as an act of belling the cat. Has that set space for a possible Indian role?
The US has just at the nick of the G20 summit accepted India’s right to access Russian oil. Is that a grand stand or just routine? The enthusiasm of the Indian diaspora is exhilarating. Heading a multilateral
organisation even for a
period of one year means a lot for a country that has been in the forefront of many
including during the
Still Indian ceremonial ascendency at G20 has not made big news. Instead, the international media concentrated on the three-hour meeting of US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping to hash out some of the thorniest issues in their relationship, including tensions over Taiwan, the economy and return to climate negotiations. Biden and Xi made cautious promises to improve the relationship that is at its most acrid point in decades and he pledged his envoy to visit China soon.
That has not taken away the thunder out of Modi’s move but it must have made him rethink that the media reach of India needs a lot to do and remains as vantage as that of Indira Gandhi, who despite her NAM-Pool move could not do much to widen the Indian news coverage beyond a point. These well could be the guiding mantras for Modi as he leads India's presidency in the club of elite nations.
The next 200 G20 events in India would need a better glare to establish internationally an effort that the country would be making not only for itself but for a possible effort to mark Indian stamp on the global scenario. G20 Presidency is not merely a diplomatic meeting for India, it is a new responsibility and a measure of the world’s trust in India. It needs a news system that can penetrate and make a mark. The minister for external affairs S Jaishankar would have to walk that extra mile.
That apart, Prime Minister Modi knows how to utilise an elite forum to give the best impressions. He has decided to widen the Indian ambit. India with G20 presidency will be inviting Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and the UAE as guest countries, as well as International Solar Alliance, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, and Asian Development Bank as guest international organisations. It will be a new dimension for the G20, which otherwise keeps to a restricted norm.
The Finance Ministry has allocated Rs 100 crore for hosting the G20, which will have a grand summit in September 2023. It will be spent on the meets, summit and security arrangements for the world dignitaries. The 200 meetings would be held across the country, starting from Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, a sharp move for pronouncing that a ticklish problem has been solved.
Whatever, it will be an eventful 2023, which will be occupied with critical international functions as also prepare for eight state assembly elections. It will be a rich and action-packed prelude to India’s 2024 general Lok Sabha elections.
(The author is a policy analyst)