India assumes G-20 Presidency
SUBHASHIS MITTRA- Wide Angle
It was on Thursday that India formally took over the G-20 presidency - which rotates annually between members - of the Group of Twenty countries.
The broad agenda of the G20 is to ensure the world’s financial stability and that the fruits of economic development, including technological advances, reach people across the globe. How to do this with a war raging in Europe that has disrupted economies by limiting access to fuel, foodgrain and fertiliser, just as the pandemic’s grip had loosened and countries had begun to chalk up recovery plans – is the question.
India will need to navigate the divide in the grouping not just over the war, but its own problems with China, as well as the rivalry between China and the US, for any meaningful ideas to emerge at the end of the year. The presidency presents a unique opportunity for India’s foreign policy to put its stamp on the global agenda.
India’s position in the Ukrainian war — not aligned to either camp — will no doubt guide its presidency. Delhi has officially declared it will use it to “reflect on concerns of the global South”.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo had officially handed over the mantle to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the end of the G20 summit in November. PM Modi had said then that it was a "matter of pride" for Indians.
This is the first time ever that the G20 troika - the top grouping that consists of the past, current and next presidencies - is made up of developing countries: Indonesia, India and Brazil.
India will host the next G20 summit in New Delhi in September 2023.
On the day of the assumption of the G-20 presidency, most of the major newspapers of Bangladesh carried the article by Prime Minister Modi which sets out the vision and tasks of the G-20 under the presidency of India.
The assumption of the Presidency of G-20 by India on December 01 is a significant event for Bangladesh also as it becomes a guest country which will take part in the G-20 meetings and summit meeting next year in September.
Outlining the priorities of India during this period Prime Minister Modi in his article said that during its Presidency, India will work to promote the universal sense of one-ness by adopting the theme “One Earth, One Family, One Future.”
Prime Minister Modi’s assertion that climate change, terrorism and pandemics are the greatest challenges faced by the world which can be solved by acting together, resonates deeply with Bangladesh as it fights the severe impact of climate change and the aftermath of Covid-19 on its economy.
The clarion call given by the Prime Minister Modi to depoliticise the global supply of food, fertiliser and medical products so that geo-political tensions don’t lead to humanitarian crisis touches upon the crucial issues faced by global south including Bangladesh.
Earlier, expressing gratitude on being invited to the G-20 under India’s Presidency, Bangladesh State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam had said that it will further strengthen ties between the two countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the country will work to promote a "universal sense of oneness" while it leads the G-20.
In an op-ed piece published in major Indian newspapers, PM Modi wrote that India's G-20 agenda will be "inclusive, ambitious, action-oriented and decisive"
He also called for member countries to make India's G20 presidency one of "healing, harmony and hope". The theme of India's presidency is 'One Earth, One Family, One Future', inspired by the Sanskrit phrase 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam'.
The G20 is a group of countries which meets to discuss plans for the global economy. Between them, the 20 countries account for two-thirds of the global population, 85% of the world's economic output and 75% of world trade.
Every year, a different G20 member state takes over the presidency and sets the agenda for meetings.
Digital issues and reforms of multilateral financial institutions are expected to be key focus areas for India during its one-year tenure.
At the November summit, India had said it would work to bridge the digital divide, especially in developing countries.
"India's experience of the past few years has shown us that if we make digital architecture inclusive, it can bring about socio-economic transformation," Modi said at the Bali summit.
Modi wrote, "We have leveraged technology to create digital public goods that are open, inclusive and inter-operable."
He added that India's G20 priorities will be shaped in consultation with "our fellow-travellers in the global South, whose voice often goes unheard".
The G-20 or Group of 20 is an intergovernmental forum of the world's major developed and developing economies. It comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US and the European Union (EU).
Together, they account for over 80 per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product, 75 per cent of international trade and two-thirds of the world population.
Incidentally, on the day when India donned the G-20 Presidency mantle, Delhi assumed the rotating Presidency of the 15-nation UN Security Council for the month of December, during which it will host signature events on countering terrorism and reformed multilateralism.
India assumed the monthly rotating Presidency of the Security Council on December 1, the second time after August 2021 that it will preside over the Council during its two-year tenure as elected UNSC member. India's 2021-22 term on the Council ends December 31.
Countering terrorism and reformed multilateralism will be among the key priorities for India during its UNSC presidency that will culminate in the completion of its two-year tenure as non-permanent member of the 15-nation powerful body.
India's position on UNSC reform is early reform with comprehensive reform at its core. Comprehensive reform is not just an expansion in the permanent membership of the Security Council, but also in the non-permanent category, the question of the veto, the relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council and an improvement in the working methods of the Security Council to make it more democratic and thereby more effective, for which Inter-Governmental Negotiations on UNSC reform will commence in January.
India, Brazil, Germany and Japan - members of the G4 grouping - have been at the forefront of efforts calling for urgent reform of the Security Council, which has remained deeply divisive in dealing with current challenges. India has asserted that the Council, in its current form, does not reflect today's geo-political realities and its credibility is at risk if nations like developing nations like India do not have a permanent seat at the world body's top organ.