G20: India shines on global stage

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G20: India shines on global stage

Sunday, 10 September 2023 | Swarn Kumar Anand

G20: India shines on global stage

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s deft leadership at the G20 summit underscores India’s growing global influence. This article delves into key diplomatic moves, from Bangladesh to Ukraine, highlighting India’s ascension as a unifying force. Despite geopolitical tensions, India’s stance strengthens its position on the world stage.

The G20 summit, expertly hosted by India, signifies a watershed moment for the nation’s global standing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has adeptly seized this opportunity to showcase India’s burgeoning economy and its ascending influence in international affairs.

This article offers a nuanced exploration of the intricate dynamics surrounding India’s G20 presidency. It encapsulates crucial topics such as funding for climate transition, peace in Ukraine, the overhaul of multilateral development institutions, the regulation of cryptocurrency, diplomatic manoeuvers with Bangladesh, and the conspicuous absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

One cannot help but ponder the potential for India to have galvanised G20 leaders towards a consensus on a transformative “New Delhi Leaders Summit Declaration.”

The achievement of consensus among G20 states on the leaders’ declaration, particularly the contentious section addressing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is indeed remarkable.

The G20 Leaders’ joint declaration adopts a nuanced stance. The New Delhi Leaders Summit Declaration addresses the “impacts of the war in Ukraine” on “global food and energy security, supply chains, macro-financial stability, inflation, and growth”, all of which contribute to the pursuit of a lasting peace in Ukraine.

Furthermore, the declaration emphasises adherence to the principles outlined in the UN Charter. It underscores that “all states must refrain the threat of use of force to seek territorial acquisition”, respecting the “territorial integrity, sovereignty, and political independence of every state”. Additionally, the “use or threat of use of nuclear weapons” is deemed unacceptable, in accordance with the declaration.

Moreover, Modi’s announcement granting the African Union permanent membership within the G20 is a strategic triumph, supported unanimously by member nations at the summit’s outset. This decision marks a remarkable achievement during India’s stewardship of the G20. Modi’s assertion that the African Union’s inclusion will fortify both the G20 and the voice of the Global South is a sentiment worth considering.

Also, India’s invitation extended to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina carries profound political implications. Timed astutely amid Bangladesh’s pivotal elections, it is indeed a masterstroke. This overture sends a resounding message to the West: India’s foreign policy is forged through independent assessments, resolute and unwavering. Additionally, this move aligns seamlessly with India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy, enhancing its sway in the Global South.

Sheikh Hasina’s participation in the G20 bears historical significance, heralding Bangladesh’s inaugural presence in this esteemed global forum. This positioning thrusts Dhaka into a pivotal role in the Indo-Pacific, underscoring the nation’s burgeoning geopolitical influence. It not only bolsters regional ties but also underscores India’s steadfast commitment to elevating its neighbours on the international stage. Simultaneously, this invitation amplifies Hasina’s standing within Bangladesh, enhancing her influence and reputation.

Nevertheless, the discord introduced by the conflict in Ukraine disrupted the G20 proceedings. India’s nuanced approach, emphasising dialogue and diplomacy, stands in contrast to Western nations’ call for a resounding condemnation of Russia’s actions. Striking a delicate balance between these opposing views is the paramount for India’s G20 presidency.

The notable absence of Xi Jinping at the G20 summit is a significant development, marking the first time he has opted not to attend. This underscores the underlying rivalry between China and India, a rivalry that has manifested in recent territorial disputes.

While Beijing has expressed willingness to collaborate for a positive summit outcome, Xi’s absence cast a shadow over the event. China’s earlier objection to holding the G20 meetings in Jammu & Kashmir further complicates the already intricate diplomatic landscape surrounding the event.

India’s decision to host the G20 meetings in Jammu & Kashmir carries profound symbolic weight, affirming India’s sovereignty over the region and reasserting its territorial integrity. From China’s geopolitical standpoint, however, this move is viewed through a strategic lens. Beijing’s objection may stem from its vested interests in the region, as well as historical border disputes with India. Additionally, China’s objection underscores the broader competition between India and China for influence in South Asia. Selecting J&K as the G20 meeting location may have been interpreted by China as a calculated move by India to assert dominance in a region that has been a focal point of regional tensions.

Nonetheless, India’s decision stands as another masterstroke. New Delhi’s choice to host the G20 meeting in Jammu & Kashmir has far-reaching implications for regional geopolitics. In days to come, it will not only influence India-China relations but also shape perceptions of India’s stance on territorial disputes and its commitment to

asserting influence on the global stage.

Regarding Xi’s decision to skip the G20 summit, analysts worldwide have proffered various interpretations. These range from potential snubs to India, to a desire to avoid meetings perceived as insincere with the US, to the management of domestic challenges and economic slowdown back home. However, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reiterated its support for India’s hosting of the event, hinting at a willingness to cooperate.

Nonetheless, the inability to secure a joint declaration at the G20 summit could have been a setback for India’s ambitious G20 presidency. But India could persuade diverse member nations to endorse a unified statement.

The success of India’s presidency shows its ability to foster consensus and emerge as a unifying force on the global stage. Through adept diplomacy, India can leave an indelible mark on the G20, solidifying its position as a global leader. And for this to happen, Prime Minister Modi urged global leaders to confront the prevailing “global trust deficit.”

(The writer is Associate Editor & News Editor, The Pioneer)  

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