By Rushali Saha
Move on, G7. It’s time for G10, with India on board. This is no fanciful theoretical construct but the latest brainwave of US President Donald Trump.
In widely-quoted remarks, President Trump told reporters aboard his special aircraft Air Force One that he would be postponing the next meeting of G-7, which the US is hosting, to September or November because he felt it was a “very outdated group” which does not “properly represent what is going on in the world.”
The maverick US leader called for an expansion of the elite grouping of the world’s most advanced nations to include India, Australia, South Korea suggesting that it be rechristened as the “G-10 or G-11.”
“President Trump’s inclusion of India in the expanded G7 grouping underlines India’s growing global stature and a recognition by the world’s most powerful economy of the critical importance of India to a reformed world order,” said Manish Chand, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network and India and the World magazine.
“Trump’s suggestion to include emerging powers like India in an expanded G7, by default, indicates a wider recognition of the imperative to accelerate reform of global governance architecture to reflect contemporary realities. G7, as pointed by Trump, is increasingly an anachronism and need to be reinvented by including the new powers,” said Mr Chand, also the author of “Journeys Across Continents,” a book on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomacy as captured in his travels to various foreign countries.
There is some confusion over whether Russia was included in Mr Trump’s suggestion; some accounts from the reporters who travelled with him suggest he did mention Russia as well. Earlier also, Trump had pushed for Russia’s inclusion into the G7 group at the 2019 summit in Biarritz and was only backed by Italy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present at Biarritz upon the invitation of host country France, and participated in two sessions on climate change and digitization. The UK proposal does not include Russia, but includes the other three democratic countries. If proposals by the US and UK are accepted by the other members of G-7, India may be invited to join the grouping. Senior officials are expected to discuss this issue in the weeks leading to the rescheduled summit.
The G-7 (G-8 before Russia was expelled in 2014) in its current form is an intergovernmental organisation consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States, and is seen as representing the top economies of the world forming an informal forum to discuss pressing global issues. The group formed in 1970s initially served as a forum for US and its allies to discuss economic issues, but has now come to cover global issues affecting every decade such as financial crisis, terrorism, arms control etc. The group does not have formal constitution and most decisions are taken during the annual summits which are non-binding. Given the changed geopolitical reality and growing economic might of countries in Asia and Africa, many feel that G-7 is no longer relevant especially since the formation of the G-20, which is a larger group of countries and includes all the G-7 members.
Although Trump’s statement is not very clear on whether he wants this inclusion will be temporary or permanent, it is definitely reflective of the growing international stature of these countries. Three of the countries which Trump explicitly mentioned are crucial components of the US “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” through which the US is trying to compete with Chinese influence in the region. Alyssa Alexandra Farah, White House Director of Strategic Communications, said that this is bringing together “our traditional allies” to talk about how to deal with the future of China. For India, its presence in the grouping will serve as significant marker in India’s rise as a global power.
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