India assumed the G20 presidency during a critical period marked by global turmoil, widening geopolitical fault lines among major powers, and significant economic challenges. This provided both challenges and opportunities for India to demonstrate its global leadership. The outcomes of India’s tenure evoke a sense of contentment. The nation used its increasing power and good connections with different groups to cleverly handle the challenges in a changing world. Notably, India took a clear and strong position on the situation in Ukraine.
In a world with more conflicts, India stays strong by using its creativity and leadership. India didn’t make the global system, but it knows it’s important to share its ideas for how the world should be governed. Standing out among influential nations, India emerges as a staunch advocate for a multipolar world. It wants to lead developing countries and make a world that values working together instead of using power, focusing on diversity.
India’s endeavor to shape a multipolar world aligns with its commitment to fostering a global landscape beyond unilateral power dynamics. In doing so, it seeks to contribute to a paradigm that values cooperation and inclusivity on a global scale.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government deserves recognition for hosting G20 Sherpas and workshops across India, along with organizing the Voice of Global South Summit involving 125 countries. India supported the African Union’s inclusion as a permanent G20 member. This year’s G20 summit included nine guest countries Egypt, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Mauritius.
Outcomes of The Declaration
The G20 experience marked a pivotal moment for New Delhi, dispelling doubts about its capacity for effective multilateral negotiations. Typically, such negotiations extend until the last minute, but at the G20 summit, the Prime Minister announced consensus on the first day—an unprecedented and crucial achievement. The G20 declaration is a powerful symbol of India’s prowess in harmonizing diverse views, conflicting ideologies, and strong personalities onto one global stage.
In this process, India has redefined multilateralism, even in the face of resistance from China, assertiveness from the West, and defensiveness from Russia. This showcase of skill underscores India’s ability to bridge divides on the global stage, navigating complex diplomatic landscapes with finesse. Notably, India’s role in representing the Global South sets a precedent for future multilateral discussions, ensuring a permanent platform for developing and underdeveloped nations.
Impacts and Achievements
The impact extends beyond the G20, as India’s diplomatic success accelerates the pursuit of reforms in other multilateral forums, including the UN Security Council and global financial institutions. These reforms aim at achieving a fairer distribution of resources on the global stage. Through the G20, India has not only reaffirmed its global ambitions but has also demonstrated a distinct knack for large-scale diplomacy, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of international relations.
The pinnacle achievement was the unanimous adoption of the New Delhi Declaration, an extensive document covering 83 paragraphs addressing various topics. The G20 agenda encompassed a broad spectrum of developmental and geopolitical concerns, ranging from sustainable growth and the 2030 development agenda to international trade, climate change, finance, healthcare access during crises, debt issues, MDB reforms, and Digital Public Infrastructure.
India did well by connecting conflict to development and discussing the problems in reaching Sustainable Development Goals. It showed off its modern digital infrastructure and said we need quick changes in how Multilateral Development Banks work. India also pointed out how debt affects lower and middle-income countries a lot.
Notably, India focused on the Global South in its global governance efforts, underscoring the importance of representing the interests of developing and underdeveloped nations on the international stage. This multifaceted approach reflects India’s commitment to addressing complex issues and contributing meaningfully to global development and cooperation.
G20’s Proactive Measures
The declaration took a proactive stance on enhancing global security by strengthening the Financial Action Task Force. The move involved the global enforcement of updated standards, making it significantly harder for criminals to evade detection and operate with impunity.
Additionally, the G20 declaration effectively condemned terrorism in all its forms, explicitly addressing state-sponsored acts. It highlighted the severe threat terrorism poses to international peace and security. The declaration also acknowledged the shared commitment of all religions to peace, emphasizing the importance of unity in combating the global challenge of terrorism.
The buzz surrounding the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) is notable, especially amidst the growing criticism of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The IMEC is a comprehensive rail and shipping connectivity network linking the US, India, West Asia, and the European Union. U.S. President Joe Biden acknowledged the IMEC as a “significant deal,” which has the potential to work as a counter to the BRI.
Renowned historian William Dalrymple aptly describes the IMEC as a modern incarnation of the ancient Red Sea route, connecting Roman Egypt to Kerala and Gujarat. The latest emphasis is constructing a “reliable, secure, and inclusive” digital public infrastructure (DPI) using a three-step strategy. Firstly, the declaration embraces the DPI framework. Secondly, it cheers for India’s move to establish a Global Digital Public Infrastructure Repository, a virtual library of DPI voluntarily shared by G20 nations and more.
G20 to G21
As the African Union ushers in the transition from G20 to G21, New Delhi can proudly look back at its impressive legacy of enhancing the inclusivity and significance of this global platform. This move carries immense political weight, as it finally brings the entire African continent to the decision-making table, affording the AU a level of political recognition akin to that of the European Union. This move has brought in the voices of 1.4 billion people from 54 countries with a combined economic size of US$2.7 trillion.
By allowing the world’s second-largest continent to engage with the rest of the world on equal terms, global geopolitics will surely benefit. Despite recent instances of military authoritarianism in some African nations, fostering deeper trade, investment, and business connections with the international community will help mitigate such trends.
Implications of President Xi’s absence
While discussions often centre on the China challenge faced by India, it’s the India challenge to China that has genuinely defined India’s G20 presidency. President Xi Jinping’s choice to skip the G20 summit in India reflects a broader unease in Beijing, where a confident New Delhi is actively asserting its global presence. This G20 summit also speeds up the competition between China and other significant players to influence the Global South.
Modi has shown that he’s becoming a significant figure in the Global South and a counterbalance to Xi in the developing world. While Xi appears to aim at rallying developing nations behind China’s anti-American agenda, Modi is presenting a different perspective on North-South relations. Under his leadership, India is emphasizing amplifying the voices of developing countries in global governance while promoting cooperation, rather than conflict, with the West.
India’s Multi-alignment Maneuvers
During the GLOBESEC 2022 summit in Bratislava, Slovakia, India’s Minister of External Affairs, S. Jaishankar, emphasized that India doesn’t see itself aligning with either the U.S. or China exclusively. With its significant population and a prominent global economy, India believes it has the right to make independent decisions. This Indo-centric approach of multi-alignment is evident in India’s active participation in multiple international forums. This strategy of multi-alignment through multilateral engagements serves several purposes, including strengthening India’s security networks, gaining support from international organizations like the UNSC, fostering collaborations with various countries, and enhancing India’s global standing, especially during the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
India’s participation in these evolving minilateral and plurilateral from Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa (BRICS), India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA), Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), etc. groupings reflects the changing global landscape. These partnerships are seen as mutually beneficial, with overlapping interests among member countries. India and like-minded nations view these platforms as opportunities for versatile collaboration in maritime awareness, humanitarian aid, space cooperation, technology, supply chains, and climate change. This adaptable approach strengthens the foundations of these minilateral forums.
For India, which is dissatisfied with existing multilateral structures, minilaterals offer a blend of international cooperation and efficient, agile group dynamics. Minilaterals avoid historical baggage and bureaucratic hurdles often associated with traditional multilateral institutions. They can also serve as stepping stones for building consensus and setting agendas on the global stage. These developments underscore a shifting global power balance. Therefore, India’s active engagement in minilateralism is crucial, as it contributes to practical, measurable goals that enhance international stability and shape the global order.
India is an emerging power with a significant global presence. Yet, divisions in high-level politics make pursuing a comprehensive foreign policy challenging. This impacts critical issues like debt management, climate solutions, and global data systems, entangling them in major power conflicts like Russia in Ukraine, India’s tensions with China, and US-China disputes. India faces complexity, and success in this context is uncertain. India finds itself navigating complex waters, and the definition of success in this context remains uncertain.
Global tensions are growing, and India’s politics at home can be uncertain and divided. This might make it hard for India to reach its global goals. Balancing what’s happening inside the country, in the region, and worldwide is challenging. India has to be competent in dealing with intense international competition and also keep in mind what’s important at home and nearby. During India’s G20 presidency, there were concerns and challenges to the country’s federal structure in its ethnically diverse nation.
Reforming global financial institutions like the World Bank and IMF is a significant challenge for G20 leaders, compounded by rising debt due to US Federal Reserve interest rate hikes. India proposes changes, emphasizing IMF quotas and emerging market shares while ensuring representation for the poorest nations. However, including strong language in the G20’s Delhi declaration is doubtful, as the US views it as a challenge to its financial dominance. India, a close US ally, must tread carefully.
Through skillful leadership, New Delhi has left a unique mark on the G-20, transforming it into a more vibrant platform. In doing so, India has bolstered its standing and credibility in the global arena. However, these efforts are still in the early stages and lack the necessary financial and diplomatic strength to produce immediate results.
India possesses a distinctive moral authority as a democratic nation and a genuine mediator capable of engaging with a wide range of countries across the political spectrum. In the 21st century, there is a growing need for more countries with attributes similar to India.
The G20, comprises both developing and developed nations, and it’s a good place for India to share important ideas. We can all benefit from caring about people, being eco-friendly, making peace, and being fair and inclusive in working together internationally. India, guided by its motto of “One Earth, One Family, One Future,” could be a shining example.
About the Author
Intrigued by art, architecture, culture, mythology, and history, I’m a Kathak dancer connected to the world of experience, an avid reader, and a socio-political enthusiast. The dynamics of geopolitics, sanity, strategic studies, and socio-political issues captivate me in unconventional ways. I aspire to transform societal perspectives and debunk false narratives. Observing the world out and within, I cannot stay shut; my analytical mind compels me to address matters that interest me, advocating for substantive change.