G-20 Presidency: A Kodak moment for New Delhi
Published: Sep 11, 2023
By Pratap Singh, Principal CIT
THE Group of 20 or G20 , an intergovernmental forum of the world's largest economies that aims to address issues related to the global economy, gathered in New Delhi for the annual Leaders' Summit from 9th -10th September 2023. As this year's G20 president and host, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi excellently used the summit both to promote India's position on the world stage and to increase his domestic standing and truly made it as people's presidency . He saw the G20 presidency as an opportunity to showcase India's credentials as a bridge between Global South countries and the West.
India did almost unthinkable and pulled through a very successful G-20 Summit, with the New Delhi Declaration, amidist huge clouds over consensus building, as blocks led by Russia-China on one hand and Western countries on other were pulling in different directions. It undoubtedly catapults India in a new orbit of power and global influence. A huge effort by Indian negotiating team which worked tirelessly round the clock to finalize the declaration and as many as 15 drafts were circulated among members to secure their support and to build consensus and finally every one's ideas were considered and found place in final document. There were over 200 meetings planned in 56 cities, with 112 outcomes and communiques, the highest so far of any presidency. The posters advertising the G20 were spread throughout the country; and mass education campaigns on India's presidency permeated the schools, including essay writing competitions and even courses offering certificates on G20 literacy. A U.S. official said that he wished the United States had had the foresight to create this kind of buzz during its own chairmanship. The leadership provided by the Prime Minister, was inspirational and last moment call to Putin clinched the deal as the isolated China did not want to be a deal breaker. It exhibits rising stock of India on global high table and shows its readiness to play global role.
The G20 was founded in 1999 in response to the Asian Financial Crisis. The crisis triggered the already-established Group of Seven (G7) to create a dialogue with other major economic powers that would address global economic challenges. The grouping initially began with 22 members in 1997, grew briefly to 33 in early 1999, and then assumed its final form comprised of 19 countries and the European Union in September of that year. Together, member nations now form about 80 percent of the world's economic output. During the 2008 financial crisis, the G20 emerged as an institution that facilitated crucial cooperation between the central banks and finance ministers of member countries. Since then, the grouping has had limited success in accomplishing broad policy objectives such as trade liberalization, but more success in implementing microeconomic changes like strengthening domestic financial systems and combatting terrorist financing.
In the Summit, India offered to share its DPI ( Digital Public Goods ) like UPI, Adhar, Digilocker, Co-win platform etc., with global south and showcases its technology expertise in various field including space technology. India also offered to launch a G-20 satellite for the befit of poor and developing countries.
The theme of this G-20 was Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam - one earth one family and one future, taken from Upnishad , which captures the essence of Indian culture and ethos but at the same time quite relevant and clearly lays down emphasis on sustainability, environment protection and welfare of all.
The emphasis of the event was also on inclusion and India strongly pushed the issues of developing countries- the global south by inviting as many as 9 countries across continents, for proper representation of entire humanity. India proposed for inclusion of African Union (AU) , a union of 52 African countries, which was accepted by the voice vote and denotes huge achievement. It exemplifies India's moto of "sabakasath".
The PM also laid down emphasis on "Human centric approach" rather than GDP centric approach being adopted . It was in this line that the PM stressed about waiver of debt of poor countries and to support poverty alleviation programmes and development of infrastructure and trade.
Global biofuels Alliance on the similar lines as Global Solar Alliance was formed with initial nine members signing the agreement and most of the remaining countries are willing to come on board.
In a biggest push to connectivity and infrastructure, an Indian-middle east-Europe infrastructure corridor was formed to promote trade and movement of goods seamlessly through land and sea between India, middle east and Europe, which will work as a counter to belt and road initiative by China. Surprisingly Italy which had earlier joined Belt and Road initiative is willing to leave it and join the new arrangement.
PM Narendra Modi announced the adoption of the New Delhi Leaders Declaration, a significant victory for India's G20 presidency that came amid increasing tensions and divergent views over the Ukraine conflict. The announcement about the consensus on the declaration and its subsequent adoption came hours after India circulated a new text to the G20 countries to describe the Ukraine conflict. The following are some of the highlights from the 37 page declaration:
- The declaration avoided condemnation of Russia for the war in Ukraine but called on all states to refrain from the use of force to seize territory. It also called on states to abide by the UNSC resolutions and follow the principles of the UN Charter and dubbed the use or threat of nuclear weapons ‘inadmissible'. It held that Peaceful resolution of conflicts, and efforts to address crises as well as diplomacy and dialogue are critical. It welcomed all relevant, constructive initiatives that support comprehensive, just, and durable peace in Ukraine .
- To support food and energy security, more particularly in developing and African countries, it called upon Russia and Ukraine to ensure immediate and unhindered delivery of grains, fertilizers and other goods in order to "meet the demand in developing and least developed countries ".It called for a cessation of military destruction or other attacks on food and energy infrastructure and flagged concerns about high levels of volatility in food and energy markets.
- The G- 20 accepted India's proposal of inclusion of African Union a conglomerate of 55 African Nations and welcomed the African Union as a permanent member at the summit.
- The New Delhi Declaration called for reforming of international financial institutions, managing debt vulnerabilities of low and middle-income countries and the start of exchange of tax-relevant information on crypto assets by 2027.
- Terrorism constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.All acts of terrorism are criminal, unjustifiable regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed. Effective counter terror measures, support for victims, protection of human rights not conflicting goals, but complementary.
- The member countries committed to a "phase down" of coal "in line with national circumstances". With major fossil fuel producers including Saudi Arabia, Russia and Australia – and coal-dependent nations such as India and South Africa – at the table, the G20 also pledged to triple renewable energy sources by 2030.
- It emphasised that developing countries need $ 5.8 to $ 5.9 trillion in the pre-2030 period for their climate goals, while the world would need another $ 4 trillion per annum investment by 2030 to help reach net-zero carbon emission goal by 2050.
- It stressed that central banks remain strongly committed to achieving price stability in line with their respective mandates. "With notable tightening in global financial conditions, which could worsen debt vulnerabilities, persistent inflation and geo-economic tensions, the balance of risks remains tilted to the downside. We, therefore, reiterate the need for well-calibrated monetary, fiscal, financial, and structural policies to promote growth, reduce inequalities and maintain macroeconomic and financial stability," it added.
- On banking turbulence in some countries, the document welcomed the initial steps taken by the Financial Stability Board, Standard Setting Bodies and certain jurisdictions to examine what lessons can be learned from this recent banking turbulence and encourage them to advance their ongoing work. It further added that they recognised the importance of supply-side policies, especially policies that increase labour supply and enhance productivity to boost growth and alleviate price pressures.
The New Delhi Declaration was adopted on 9th September with 100% consensus on all developmental and geo-political issues. Delegates from the world's top economies found common ground in spite of significantly different stances on topics such as the Ukraine war and climate change . "There is good news. With everyone's cooperation, consensus has been reached on New Delhi G20 Leadership Declaration…I announce the adoption of this declaration," announced Prime Minister Narendra Modi . India passed on the presidency to Brazil by handing over gavel. It is interesting to note that Indonesia hosted the previous G-20 Summit and Brazil and South Africa will be hosting next two summits so back to back four developing countries will be hosting this important event, indicating that power is shifting to developing and emerging countries.
So this G-20 event is indeed India's moment under the Sun and puts it into high orbit of global geo- politics.