From global high table to voice of Global South: India’s wide G20 plan

From global high table to voice of Global South: India’s wide G20 plan

From global high table to voice of Global South: India’s wide G20 plan

New Delhi plans to host to the most inclusive G20 meetings with over 800 special invitees from Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Mauritius, Netherlands, Spain and UAE, many international bodies, and business leaders who will attend meetings over the coming year.

The Narendra Modi government plans to showcase the Indian model of development and the country’s unique and significant achievements (such as leadership in fin-tech), and emphasize its position as a shaper of agendas with a seat at the global high table, but also a voice of the Global South in India’s first G20 Presidency, people familiar with the matter said.

In 200-plus meetings across 56 Indian cities, New Delhi will demonstrate the country’s successes such as its much-acclaimed public digital infrastructure, its generics industry’s role as the pharmacy of the world, and its robust financial inclusion model, the people added, listing in detail for the first time, the country’s plans for its G20 Presidency which commences on December 1 and ends with a grand summit in September 2023.

It will also push its agenda on lifestyle for environment (LiFe, first mentioned by Prime Minister Modi at the climate conference in 2021, and launched by him the UN chief this year), climate financing, energy transition and women-led development.

India will also use its presidency to achieve a consensus on long-pending reforms in multilateral institutions, and on the global debt crisis .

“We want the G20 presidency to be action and outcome oriented. Our focus will be these issues. We want to reach high level principals. The major decisions taken earlier will continue but we will try to marry them with new innovations. We want to position the Indian model for potential solution of issues and development,” said one of the people cited above.

But the meetings will not just be about official engagements, the people added. The Modi government will also showcase the country’s soft power ; a dose of culture, a taste of cuisine , and excursions to places of historical interest.

Top objectives

India, the people added, sees an opportunity in the fact that its G20 presidency comes amidst a global geopolitical and economic crisis. It also comes against the backdrop of the India’s crucial role in driving consensus at the Bali Summit of the G20 where, according to a second person, 15 rounds of ministerial meetings failed before India stepped in . Paragraph 3 of the Bali declaration—on the Russian aggression in Ukraine—was an outcome of the intervention. The G20 Declaration 2022, drafted by the Indian Sherpa, adopted in Bali last week was copied verbatim by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders on their stand on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Amitabh Kant, the G20 sherpa for India, said, “this is the first time India is going to set the agenda for the world. So far, we were reacting to the agenda being received from the developed world”.

“Now, the leadership is getting transferred to a developing country and therefore, while we look at the world it is important to bring in the India narrative. Some unique things have happened to India such as the digital transformation, which is very distinct from what the West has done. We believe in creating public goods and allow the private sector to innovate. We have also done a unique story on health as the pharmacy of the world,” he added.

According to the people, India also wants to use the meetings to reiterate its position as the emerging voice of the Global South.

The G20 countries account for 85% of global GDP, 60% of the world’s population and 75% of all trade. New Delhi plans to host to the most inclusive G20 meetings with over 800 special invitees from Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Mauritius, Netherlands, Spain and UAE, many international bodies, and business leaders who will attend meetings over the coming year.

New Delhi also faces key challenges. The climate crisis is accelerating; Covid-19 and the Ukraine-Russia war have meant a setback to Sustainable Development Goals; and the pandemic has pushed 300 million people back into poverty. Many countries face a debt crisis while geopolitical tensions are on the rise, resulting a food and energy crisis. “But Prime Minister Modi is clear. This is an opportunity for India to drive the consensus,” said Kant.

The Modi government, however, brings with it a massive scale of operations and an enviable track record in the delivery of public goods, the people explained. And the country’s economy will remain the fastest growing among major economies in 2022-23 and 2023-24 according to the IMF. India is also a global fintech leader, and boasts the world’s third-largest start-up ecosystem. “We are fast emerging as tech garage of the world,” Kant adds.

The background operations

Aware that not all G20 presidencies have been impactful, India has already set up its G20 secretariat in the well-equipped Sushma Swaraj Bhavan in south Delhi.

There are 13 working groups under the Sherpa Track and each group will prepare issue notes that translate into outcome documents. “Those outcome documents will form the basis of the negotiations that go for the next few months and will ultimately lead to the leaders’ declaration,” said the first official.

Apart from the 13 groups in Sherpa Track, there will be meetings of foreign ministers and line ministers. The 11 engagement groups, the finance ministers, and the central bank governors will meet separately in about eight meetings.

The ministries have already been assigned their tasks. The issue of anti-corruption is being handled by the DoPT, and agriculture , culture, tourism, health, education, labour and employment and climate change by the respective ministries.

The agenda of development is being driven by the external affairs ministry, that for the digital economy by MEITY , disaster management by NDMA, trade and investment by the commerce ministry and energy transition by the power ministry. “All their inputs will come to the G20 secretariat and we will then circulate the issue papers,” added the first official.

part from the line ministries, engagement groups have been formed for subjects such as business, start-ups, women, science, and urban development.

Government functionaries are also gearing up for issues that require negotiations such as financing and technology for climate action, collective action for SDG, digital public good, debt sustainability, reforms of multilateral institutions, and equitable energy transition.

“We are moving from being a contributor of agenda to a shaper of agenda. These are the areas where India wants to help build consensus,” said the second person

The taste of India

The 200-plus meetings over the next one year will provide an opportunity for the participants and delegates to discover India to its fullest, the people said.

The G20 secretariat has planned practical outreach activities that includes “beach and coastal cleaning, showcasing green building, cultural exhibition, waste recycling, health camps with focus on Ayurveda and traditional medicine, technology hackathon, showcasing millets and food and promoting Rupay cards in the diaspora.”

Two exhibitions are to be held in Delhi during the G20 Summit next year: India as the mother of democracy and the country’s rapid digital transformation. “There are 4 billion people in the world without digital identity whereas we made 50 years of progress in 7 years in digital transactions. What we are trying to showcase is the Indian model for financial inclusion can be implemented globally,” said the first official.

The government also aims to make the experience for delegates ”spiritually elevating, culturally enriching and mentally rejuvenating.”

The meetings will be held across India, in large cities, but also ones off the beaten track, such as as Imphal, Kohima, Leh, Port Blair, Siliguri, Agartala, Gangtok, Shimla, Rishikesh, Aizwal and Agartala. For instance, the initial meeting of ambassadors, scheduled for Thursday, is happening at Havelock, Port Blair.

All these meetings will give the dignitaries and visitors a chance to taste local cuisine and experience Indian cultural programmes.

The government’s plans, according to the people, also have a component of jan bhagidari or interaction between the delegates and the local people through f university outreach programmes, marathons, book fairs, and dance festivals.

The G20 utility items too will have Indian imprint. “G20 mugs will have Madhubani art from Bihar; water bottles will have Kanojo art from J&K; the dockets will sport Lucknow’s Chikankari work for example,” said a functionary aware of the matter.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times