From taking lead on Ukraine to showcasing digital successes, why G20 presidency is important for India


India is taking over the presidency at a crucial juncture when the world is facing multiple headwinds on account of the Russia-Ukraine war, increasing crude oil prices, rising interest rates and slowdown in global demand. Here’s how it can lead the way

On 1 December, India will assume the presidency of the powerful G20 from its current holder Indonesia.

The G20 or Group of 20 – comprising Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US and the European Union (EU) – is an intergovernmental forum of the world’s major developed and developing economies.

The premier forum for international economic cooperation, the G20 represents around 85 per cent of the global GDP, over 75 per cent of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population.

India is currently part of the G20 Troika (current, previous and incoming G20 presidencies) comprising Indonesia, Italy and India.

The G20 summit is taking place on 15 and 16 November in Bali.

Modi, who unveiled the logo, theme and website of India’s G20 presidency during an online event on Tuesday, will be among top leaders in attendance.

India is taking over the presidency at a crucial juncture when the world is facing multiple headwinds on account of the Russia-Ukraine war, increasing crude oil prices, rising interest rates and slowdown in global demand.

Let’s take a look at why assuming the G20 presidency is important for India:

Taking lead on Ukraine

The war in Ukraine will be top of mind of most leaders.

Though Kyiv is not a G20 member, President Volodymyr Zelensky has been invited to attend the gathering.

However, Zelensky has said he would not do so if Russia’s Vladimir Putin attended the meet.

Meanwhile, Putin’s own attendance is in some doubt.

Indonesia’s Joko Widodo, who is this year’s chair of the bloc of major economies, said Putin during a phone conversation last week had not ruled out attending the summit in Bali, and would join if possible.

“But if not … maybe he’ll ask to do it virtually,” Jokowi, as the Indonesian president is popularly known, told reporters during a visit to Bali. He did not elaborate.

The Financial Times newspaper earlier quoted Jokowi as saying that his conversation with Putin had left him with a “strong impression” he would not attend.

As G20 host, Indonesia has resisted pressure from Western countries and Ukraine to disinvite Putin from the leaders summit and expel Russia from the group, saying it does not have the authority to do so without consensus among members.

Jokowi in an interview with the Financial Times said Russia was welcome at the summit, which he feared would be overshadowed by a “very worrying” rise in international tensions.

“The G20 is not meant to be a political forum. It’s meant to be about economics and development,” he was quoted as saying.

Russia earlier blocked the group from issuing communiques with language condemning the conflict.

While the Bali meeting is expected to be dominated by tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation”, India is well poised to take the lead on Ukraine going forward.

Already, there is talk that India is set to mediate between Ukraine and Russia.

This, in the backdrop of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar arriving in Moscow on a two-day trip to hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov, who also is the trade minister and Putin praising India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi  for the country’s  “talented” population, and the “independent foreign policy”.

A recent New York Times piece noted how India quietly stepped up behind the scenes of the war in Ukraine including getting Russia to stop blockading grain ships and to get it to stop shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine.

The piece also noted Modi’s good rapport with Putin.

A piece in the Washington Post, also noting Modi and Putin’s personal chemistry, said Modi, who has spoken to both leaders recently, could help push Moscow and Kyiv to th dialogue table.

Food security

Food security is yet another issue where India can show the way.

Sitharaman in December outlined eight priority areas, including reforms in multilateral institutions and food and energy security, for discussion under its G20 presidency.

As per The Print, India has already praised the Matera Declaration 2021 – which calls for ensuring sustainable food systems, poverty alleviation, agri-diversity, and territorial development by focusing on some key areas – saying it ‘resonates with its concern for the welfare of small and medium farmers and promoting agri-diversity’.

“India’s presidency of the G20 offers a historical opportunity for the country to share its successful journey in moving from a food-deficit nation to a food-surplus nation, and address the growing challenges of food security for creating resilient and equitable food systems,” a piece in The Hindu noted.

The piece noted that India’s journey in the past 50 years shows learning on sustaining growth in foodgrain production and improving food systems.

“One of India’s greatest contributions to equity in food is the National Food Security Act, 2013, which anchors the targeted public distribution system, the mid-day meal scheme, and the Integrated Child Development Services. Today, India’s food safety nets collectively reach over a billion people,” the piece noted.

The piece added that the Centre has institutionalised buying grains from farmers and food stocks as strategic reserves for national food security.

“The minimum support price has encouraged farmers to produce, and protects them from financial fluctuations. This process has protected people, especially the most vulnerable and poor, during difficult times. Such measures, which are context-driven, are needed for managing the uncertainties that have become the new normal for ensuring food security for high-population countries and many other countries across the globe,” the piece noted.

The piece added that greater investment in agriculture, food safety nets for the poor and vulnerable, new ways of farming, and diversified livelihoods is needed.

“We need to expand south-south cooperation to share experiences on food and agriculture production and make expanded efforts to share India’s experiences for countries in Africa and Asia,” the piece concluded.

Boosting post-pandemic economy, showing digital successes

Experts say India could also help the global economy, particularly those of poorer nations, bounce back from COVID-19.

Speaking with ANI, Arsjad Rasjid, chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, said: “G20 forum is becoming more and more important, particularly it is talking about the economy. We just passed the process of recovery starting after the pandemic. Now the geopolitical situation in Russia and Ukraine, that ups the challenges that the global economy is facing.”

Writing in Mint, Nasscom president Debjani Ghosh argued that India’s G20 presidency offers a platform to showcasing the country’s ‘best known practices’.

“Thanks to the success of Digital India, leadership in this sphere can be our lasting legacy to the world. And as the rules of a new digital world are written, India’s G20 presidency for 2023 will offer us a platform to showcase our success story of ‘best known practices’ that others can learn from,” Ghosh wrote.

Ghosh added that India now possesses the global gravitas, growing technology and innovation ecosystem and the intellectual prowess to claim its rightful place at the global high table which was thus far available to a few selection nations.

“The conversation on a digital economy has been led primarily by the West and focused on technology innovation, data-sharing strategies, etc. I believe this is India’s time to leverage its success in creating a citizen-centric digital economy to lead such a shift globally. We are living in times when it is of utmost importance to tackle challenges like global warming. It is equally important to ensure that as we achieve these solutions, no country or citizen gets left behind. We need to showcase technology as humankind’s greatest equalizer,” Ghosh concluded.

With inputs from agencies

This article originally appeared on and was reproduced here with permission


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