India and the G20 Agenda 2023
The G20, or the Group of Twenty, is an intergovernmental forum comprising 19 countries and the European Union. It works to address major issues such as those related to the global economy, financial stability, climate change mitigation, and sustainable development.
Image Graphics by Team Geostrata
India has assumed the presidency of the group from Indonesia, which was the host in 2022 and worked on the theme of "Recover Together, Recover Stronger".
While India is expected to retain certain aspects from the previous themes such as digitalization, climate change, and sustainability, the nation will work on the theme of "One Earth One Family One Future", based on the age-old idea of "Vasudhaiava Kutumbakam" derived from Maha Upanishad.
The theme will promote greater cooperation in global affairs at a time of great uncertainty when nuclear war and a global recession are looming in the shadows.
The G20 summit will be the most prolific event hosted by India, beating the NAM and CHOGM summits held in India in 1983, as the G20 accounts for two-thirds of the world population, 85% of the global GDP, and 75% of international trade. This G20 summit is of unprecedented global significance because it will be the first time the G20 Troika will consist of three developing economies, highlighting the increased importance of the global south in changing world order and providing them with a comprehensive and significant voice by setting the agendas for the largest and most powerful grouping at the moment. Therefore, the geopolitical significance, range, and potential of India’s G20 presidency are unmatched.
India is expected to emerge as a leader of the developing world and bring out issues that are of importance to third-world nations. India has repeatedly advocated for inclusive financial growth since the inception of the G20 and aims to promote the concept of inclusive, equitable, and sustainable growth; LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment), women’s empowerment, digital public infrastructure, and tech-enabled development in areas such as health, agriculture, education, commerce, skill-mapping, culture, and tourism; climate financing, circular economy, global food security, and energy security, to name a few.
India would push for financial inflows from the developed world to fulfill the interests of the developing nations. Money laundering, terrorist financing, reforms in global institutions, and the Paris Climate Agreement are also expected to be at the forefront of India’s agenda at the G20 summit in 2023. India has continuously raised its voice against cross-border terrorism and would be hoping to devise a concrete solution and a framework to better fight terrorism keeping aside geopolitical interests.
The United Nations believes that the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukrainian conflict have resulted in more than a loss of decade's worth of development. It has also widened the gap between the global north and the global south. Under its presidency, India would promote dialogue and discussion to propel the idea of inclusive and equitable post-pandemic growth. The aim would be to unite the world together and help the nations in Africa, Latin America, and Asia to create a better health infrastructure, keeping in mind the utter destruction and havoc razed by the COVID pandemic.
Creating a global fund and deciding upon a common plan of action to cope with such unforeseen pandemics would be the topics of utmost urgency. India would also look to change the capitalist attitude and reform certain global laws that restrict aid and assistance even in times of dire need and urgency. It will be done keeping in mind the denial of an IP rights waiver demanded by multiple countries to better fight the COVID-19 pandemic. But fearing outrage from the capitalist moguls all over the world, such a demand was denied, resulting in a global death spree. India would like to host discussions on this issue to push the PM’s vision of "One Earth-One Health".
Another important issue that is very likely to feature on India’s agenda would be climate change. India’s IT hub was recently washed away by floods caused by an unprecedented amount of rainfall, witnessed for the first time since the 1970s. India has continuously reiterated its commitment to counter climate change and is on its way to meeting the goals it set for itself under the Paris Climate Agreement. India would be looking to grill the West on its hollow promises and commitments. India will reiterate its proposal for a global fund financed by the West to assist developing countries in their transformation to a greener and more sustainable source of development.
The idea of a global fund is based on the premise that the West has historically been the biggest contributor to climate change and now expecting the global south to fund its development through greener and more expensive energy resources is sanctimony. Piyush Goyal, the Minister of Commerce in the Indian cabinet has raised this issue multiple times on various platforms.
He is of the opinion that "Developed nations have enjoyed the fruits of energy and they will need to go for net zero faster so that developing nations have some carbon space. There is a need to look at more technology and innovation.” He also expressed his disappointment at continuous delays by the west in creating a climate fund and seeks to find a solution for this. He suggested that certain parts of the global north are contributing to the problem rather than being a solution to this drastic problem.
India would give utmost preference to the concept of green hydrogen which is seriously being targeted by India as an alternative to fossil fuels. The National Hydrogen Mission was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on India’s 75th Independence Day and looks to utilize the most abundant element on Earth to fulfill India’s green energy needs. Since then, there have been considerable developments in this direction.
India has approved its Green Hydrogen Mission with an outlay of Rs.19,744 crores and wants to elevate the concept globally to encourage brilliant minds and huge companies across the world to further innovate, develop, and present a reliable, cheaper, and safe energy source.
India will also look to target and reform certain WTO rules that might have given birth to the food crisis facing the world. On the agricultural front, India would look to devise an agreement or mechanism under its leadership that would allow for a passage to export food and fodder even during times of high geopolitical tensions.
India even asked for the export of food grains from its public stock to fill in the void created by the exit of Russian and Ukrainian farmers. But the request was denied due to pressure from other member states. India would again push for the introduction of government-to-government exports of food grains, which are currently prohibited under WTO rules.
On the economic front, India intends to get the G20 nations talking about the problems of inflation and stagflation facing the world. The hike in energy prices caused by Russia’s conflict with Ukraine will also be discussed. India and other oil-importing countries would try to persuade the West and its allies to ease the sanctions against Russia, Iran, and Venezuela to restore equilibrium in the oil markets.
India is often under huge pressure due to rising oil prices which ends up eating a major chunk of India’s foreign exchange reserves. This is of extreme significance at the moment because India is using its reserves to keep the rupee afloat in this time of economic uncertainty. The economy will be under extreme focus at the summit due to the fear of an impending recession. The step to increase interest rates by most nations is probably an invitation to an economic slowdown as it will result in a significant fall in investment and economic growth.
The role of the IMF and the World Bank will be discussed as multiple countries are undergoing foreign reserve shortages and have decided to put up import restrictions, which harms the global economic architecture.
India would also be working to establish close ties with nations about the extradition of fugitive economic offenders.
Last but not the least, the world is banking on India to resolve the issues between Russia and the west over Ukraine because of India’s close association with Russia and cordial relations with the west. India has committed itself to global stability and all eyes will be on PM Modi and his team to manage the differences among the G20 nations and make sure that the summit results in something fruitful rather than being a dead end. If India manages to do that, it would be a subtle victory for India’s foreign policy and would give India greater leverage in geopolitical affairs.
BY ANSH TYAGI