How India attracted global interest at G20 Summit

India's digital infrastructure gains global attention, potentially reshaping economies

Published : 14 Sep 2023 06:54 PM

The G20 summit in New Delhi, concluded on September 10, with a visit of world leaders to the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, India’s apostle of peace.

Earlier, on September 9, India’s prime Minister, Narendra Modi handed over the symbolic hammer baton to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, who will be its next president. This landmark summit showcased India's leadership and vision for a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient world.

Why do I say this? The summit brought together leaders from 19 countries. These included President Joe Biden of the US, Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, Rishi Sunak of UK, Emmanuel Macron of France, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, and UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, prime ministers Justin Trudeau of Canada and Anthony Albanese of Australia, Brazilian president Lula de Silva, and South African president Cyril Ramaphosa . Not to forget representatives of the European Union (EU).

One of the key features of this G20 was the spate of bilateral meetings between Modi and the global leaders assembled in such large numbers for the first time in India’s national capital.

Perhaps, the greatest achievement of this year’s summit was the inclusion of the African Union as a permanent member of the G20. The G20 will now become G21.

New Delhi Declaration

Actually, if we count the 27 states in the EU and 55 states of the AU, the total number of countries in G21 exceeds a hundred. In this sense, team G20, to use a cricketing metaphor, scored a convincing century, batting for peace and the betterment of humanity under India’s captaincy.

What is more, G20 unanimously adopted the New Delhi Leaders' Declaration, which outlined the collective vision and actions of the members on various global challenges and opportunities.

Before the summit started there were many doubts raised about the possibility of a joint communique, given the deep differences of the members over issues such as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The New Delhi Declaration was satisfactory to both sides, the US and Russia, in that it reaffirmed the United Nation principles of respecting the territorial boundaries and eschewing force to invade or control other member nations.

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

The declaration also reaffirmed the principle of "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam", or "the world is one family", as the guiding philosophy for global cooperation and solidarity.

On the economic front, the summit called for strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth. The G20 leaders renewed their commitment to ensure a level playing field and fair competition by discouraging protectionism and market-distorting practices, and to foster a favourable trade and investment environment for all. The basis of this global cooperation would include food, fuel, and fertilizers.

But G20’s greatest achievement on this front was India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor. US President Joe Biden tweeted “I'm proud to announce that the US, India, Saudi Arabia, UAE, France, Germany, Italy and EU finalized a historic agreement for a new India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor."

Some have termed this the G20 alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). But let’s just say, invoking an ancient rivalry, there’s room for both the Silk Road and the Spice Route. Let potential beneficiaries decide which—even both — is better.

One of the key features of this G20 was the spate

 of bilateral meetings between Modi and the global

 leaders assembled in such large numbers for the

 first time in India’s national capital

The G20 leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to implement the Sustainibility Development Goals (SDGs) in a balanced and integrated manner, taking into account the different national circumstances and capacities. They endorsed several initiatives such as:

- The Deccan High-Level Principles on Food Security and Nutrition, which highlighted the role of millets and other climate-resilient crops in enhancing food security, nutrition and livelihoods.

- The Chennai High-Level Principles for Blue/Ocean Economy, which emphasized the need to conserve and sustainably use marine resources, promote blue carbon ecosystems, enhance maritime connectivity and cooperation, and foster innovation and entrepreneurship in ocean sectors.

- The Goa Roadmap for Tourism, which outlined a comprehensive strategy to revive and boost tourism as a key driver of growth, employment and cultural exchange, while ensuring safety, sustainability and inclusiveness.

- The Gandhinagar Implementation Roadmap for Land Restoration, which provided a framework for scaling up land restoration efforts to combat desertification, land degradation and drought, and to enhance ecosystem services, biodiversity and livelihoods.

- The Jaipur Call for Action to Enhance MSMEs Access to Information, which proposed measures to improve the availability and quality of information on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), especially women-owned and youth-led MSMEs, to facilitate their access to finance, markets, technology and skills.

Climate change is a worldwide challenge

The G20 came out in favour of the “Green Development Pact for a Sustainable Future.”

They reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of the Paris Agreement. They also agreed to enhance their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by 2025 in line with the global goal of limiting the temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

The leaders also called on developed countries to meet their climate finance commitment of mobilising $100 billion per year, setting up a new collective quantified goal beyond 2025.

Several action plans were approved to combat climate change. Among them, the New Delhi Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation (CCAP), providing a comprehensive framework for enhancing adaptation action at all levels, with a focus on vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems and the Mumbai Initiative on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), which proposed measures to strengthen DRR governance, capacities, investments and partnerships, in line with the Sendai Framework for DRR 2015-2030, are notable.

One of the less discussed but vital accomplishments, from the Indian standpoint, was the interest in India’s digital infrastructure. United Payments Interface (UPI), which has crossed a stunning 10 billion transactions in August 2023, evinced the interest of some 20-25 countries, especially in the developing world, looking to adopt it. This can be a game changer.

In the days to come, its concrete impact will become much more evident, but one thing is incontrovertible: the G20 summit was a huge success and a feather in India’s diplomatic and geostrategic cap.

Makarand R. Paranjape is a Professor of English at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Source: Gulf News