By Shweta Aggarwal
The G20 should not allow the Ukraine deadlock to derail the focus on people’s issues and Sustainable Development Goals, said senior diplomats and experts at a conference in the run up to the G20 summit in New Delhi in September. In an oblique reference to the Ukraine crisis, India’s G20 Chief Coordinator Harsh Vardhan Shringla underlined the centrality of inclusion as the driving force behind India’s G20 presidency. and stressed that the G20 should not “get distracted,” but focus on adopting an inclusive approach to pressing issues of the day that affect the lives of people.
“Expectations are high. It is incumbent on the G20 to deliver on the expectations of the international community at large,” Mr Shringla said at a conference organised by India Writes Network and its research arm, Centre for Global India Insights, a think tank focused on global affairs, in New Delhi on April 12. “I think while there is enough to divide us, our approach of inclusivity, our approach is that of looking at the world as one family. It’s saying that look, let’s work together to address what are the pressing issues of the day. Let us not get distracted,” Mr Shringla said at the conference entitled “India’s G20 Moment: Forging an Inclusive World Order.”
“What is important is that we take a larger view, take into account the interests of the larger community, all of us who are members of the G20, and take decisions that make a difference to the lives of people across the world.”
Mr Shringla’s views indicate a subtle shift in India’s position and growing convergence on keeping contentious geopolitical issues such as the Ukraine crisis off the G20 agenda. The recent meeting of foreign ministers of G20 countries failed to reach a consensus on the Ukraine issue due to the Russia-G7 divide.
Besides Mr Shringla, the conference featured eminent speakers, including Member of Parliament Dr Amar Patnaik; Indonesia’s Ambassador to India Ina H. Krisnamurthi; UN Resident Coordinator in India Shombi Sharp; Mr Edward Uziel, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Brazil; Deep Kapuria, Chairman, The Hi-Tech Group; and Ashish Kumar Sinha, Joint Secretary (G-20) in MEA. The conference was moderated by Manish Chand, Founder-CEO, India Writes Network and Director, Centre for Global India Insights, a think tank focused on global affairs.
“India’s G20 presidency is a defining moment not only for India, but also for the world at a time when there is not much good news, but a sense of gloom and doom following the Ukraine crisis,” said Mr Chand. “In such a despairing situation, the world is looking at India with a new glimmer of hope. Given India’s unique position as a bridge-builder between the global north and global South, there are greater expectations than ever from this country of over 1.4 billion people,” he said.
A special edition of India and the World journal focused on India’s G20 presidency was also launched at the conference. This special edition has been edited by Manish Chand comprises big-picture articles by eminent diplomats and experts on various asepcts of India’s G20 presidency.
Focus on Global South
Underlining that India’s G20 presidency is animated by the overarching goal of inclusion, Mr Harsh Vardhan Shringla called for reforming the G20 to reflect the interests of developing countries, which have “suffered the brunt of black swan events” such as the pandemic and the Ukraine war.
“Now, if you look at the situation globally, we had the devastating COVID pandemic, you’ve had the Ukraine conflict and the impact of some of these rare black swan situations has really been quite significant for the world at large,” Mr Shringla said. “The developing world has really borne the brunt of these global situations,” said Mr Shringla, former foreign secretary.
Advocating a bigger role for Global South in G20 discussions, Mr Shringla stressed that India has invited a “record” number of countries from Africa to be part of G20 consultations and side-events. “Inclusivity has to really come from within and when you look at our presidency. We have tried to keep inclusivity foremost in our consideration when we planned our presidency,” he said.
“The prime minister at the G20 summit in Bali promised an inclusive and action-oriented presidency. This is where the imprint of the developing world would be very much felt in the G20 in a positive way.”
Amar Patnaik, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), backed the inclusive approach of India’s G20 presidency. “Inclusivity is something which has to be practised by yourself if you were to preach to others, that’s what India means when it says, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” said Mr Patnaik.
Calling for an international treaty to curb pandemics, Mr Patnaik lauded India’s exemplary resilience and innovation during the coronavirus pandemic. India’s grand move towards the world in terms of health assistance was providing COVID Vaccine. Existential crises like pandemics and epidemics teaches the world to unify in harder times,” said Mr Patnaik, the author of….
Indonesian envoy optimistic
Indonesia’s Ambassador to India Inna H. Krisnamurthi said India will strive and thrive in its G20 presidency. “Many achievements have already been made by the country on the issue of digital energy transition and many other issues,” she said.
Krishnamurthy stressed that though there has been no consensus during the past meetings so far, “we should not lose any hopes and optimism that something will happen during the summit, because the past meetings cannot define what is going to be the result and outcome of the summit.”
India holds the key to SDG
UN Resident Coordinator Shombi Sharp praised India’s G20 leadership for “rescuing the SDGs” from political divides. In G20, the alignment is so clear with the SDGs, that I’ve been calling it the SDG 20,” he said. The G20 presidency of India is focusing on bringing a G20 SDG Action plan, he said.
“The G20 Leadership right now just happens to be kind of the headline moments, the G20 moment as we’re talking about, but there are so many other reasons,” said Mr Sharp.
“As the world’s largest democracy, home to the greatest youth generation in history, India is positioned better than as well, if not better than any country I can think of, to bring countries together across divides in any dimension north, south, east, west, you name it, said the UN Resident Coordinator. “It is India that will make or break the SDGs. This is because something like half of some global targets need to be met here in India. So, it’s both a domestic story and it’s an international global leadership story as well.”
In his remarks, Deep Kapuria, Chairman, The Hi-Tech Group, highlighted India’s strengths in technology and digital transformation. “Digital transformation in India is a signal to the high-tech world that India and many emerging economies are stable and ready for the beginning of a New Age in the digital world,” said Mr Kapuria. “Adoption of ESG principles for clean and resilient climate infrastructure is a laudable move made by India today,” he added.
Speaking at conference, Mr Eduardo Uziel, the Charge d’Affaires (CdA) of the Brazilian Embassy in New Delhi, said that reforming the global governance structure, including at the United Nations (UN) Security Council, would be one of the priorities for the country during its G20 presidency. “Brazil would look to “mainstream” the issue at G20 during its presidency next year,” he said.
Role of start-ups
Looking ahead, Ashish Kumar Sinha, Joint Secretary (G20) highlighted the role of start-ups and digital economy under India’s G20 presidency. “Startups play a pivotal role in emerging economies. Innovative engagements of startups in the field of disaster risk reduction are backed by collaborative efforts under India’s G20 Presidency,” he said.
“India’s move towards this new avenue holds massive potential backed by India’s demographic dividend which is the largest in the world as of now. That’s where Y20 and Startup20 converge to boost each other,” he said.
“Startup20 opens up avenues for emerging startups to find the right balance of funding & finances and an appropriate investment climate in a single massive G20 ecosystem.”
(With inputs from Aagya, Swaratmika, Ashish Tewari)
- India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) is an emerging think tank and a media-publishing company focused on international affairs & the India Story. A venture of TGII Media Private Limited, a leading media, publishing and consultancy company, IWN has carved a niche for balanced and exhaustive reporting and analysis of international affairs. Eminent personalities, politicians, diplomats, authors, strategy gurus and news-makers have contributed to India Writes Network, as also “India and the World,” a magazine focused on global affairs. The Global Insights India (TGII) is the research arm of India Writes Network. To subscribe to India and the World, write to email@example.com
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