G20: Following the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, a concerted effort has been made to hear the “unheard voices” of the Global South in order to ensure inclusive growth discussions amid economic concerns about rising debt, uncontrollable inflation, and slowdown.
The Sherpa track of the G20 Summit will conclude this week, and the Finance track will begin the following week. India has prepared for its year-long G20 Presidency with vigour, fervour, and a specific agenda that obviously favours emerging economies with this week’s conclusion of the Sherpa track.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, a concerted effort has been made to hear the “unheard voices” of the Global South in order to ensure inclusive growth discussions amid economic concerns about rising debt, uncontrollable inflation, and slowdown.
From December 4–7, Udaipur hosted the inaugural Sherpa Track. There were a number of unofficial gatherings there, including a Sherpa meeting of emerging economies, the troika of Indonesia, India, and also Brazil (past, present, and incoming G20 presidencies), as well as “Chai pe Charcha” sessions and evenings showcasing the colours and culture of India, in an effort to shift the focus back to multilateral trust and take a break from the current political climate.
Important global issues like inclusive growth, multilateralism, women’s leadership in development, the 3Fs (Food, Fuel, and also Fertilizer), tourism, and culture, as well as technological change, green development, digital public infrastructure, climate finance and also sustainability, and energy transition, were the main topics of the formal discussions.
G20: Concentrating on emerging economies
In its opening remarks, India emphasised the importance of the Global South and outlined the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as accelerated, inclusive, and resilient growth as top priorities for the G20 Summit. Particular emphasis was placed on the SDGs related to health and education.
Amitabh Kant, India’s G20 Sherpa, made reference to the theme of the nation’s G20 Presidency, “One Earth, One Family, One Future,” in order to develop strategies for green development, encourage climate finance, technological transformation, and digital public infrastructure, prepare multilateral institutions for the twenty-first century, and place a focus on the three currrent Fs, food, fuel, and fertilisers, among other topics.
We all need to cooperate for the benefit of the Global South, advanced economies, and developing countries. We require fresh approaches. Because this is a unique forum of both developed and emerging economies, we must develop strategies to advance the world on important global issues. Kant stated that the world faces many difficulties in his introduction.
In keeping with our theme of “One Earth, also One Family, One Future,” our G20 Presidency will work to promote equality for all, and our priorities will take into account both the aspirations of all of you,and the G20 partners, as well as the Global South, whose voice is frequently disregarded. We must also pay attention to the Global South because “the challenges we face today can only be also solved by working together through main hope, harmony, and healing.”
What the G20 Presidency of India Means?
According to Kant, India’s G20 presidency “means a lot.” It shows that up to this point, we have been receiving agenda items from the developed world and responding to them. This is the first time we also have had the freedom to set our own priorities since gaining our independence, and as a result, we can tell our own story about the excellent work we have done in the fields of medicine, vaccines, pharmacy, and digital public infrastructure. We can proudly tell the world that we are the current mother of democracies, he said.
The focus of India’s G20 presidency is Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which translates to “One Earth, One Family, One Future” and includes a “all of government” approach. The assumption of the troika’s presidency by Indonesia, India, and Brazil is thought to signal a shift toward a more inclusive global order. The concerns of emerging economies, particularly financial and economic issues, are thought to be the main topics of discussion.
Even as Russia and Ukraine subtly entered discussions about disruptions in global supply chains and energy supplies, informal discussions were held during the first round of the summit to keep the conversation on issues affecting developing economies, such as currently rising debt levels, climate finance, and the security of food and fuel.
With the Covid pandemic revealing the fragility of systems under the cascading effects of climate change, which is also a top priority item on the summit’s agenda, the opportunity to lead the G20 summit comes at a time when existential threats are intensifying. A concerted effort was made to keep the Finance track from overshadowing the Sherpa track while also covering significant economic issues.
Economic Affairs Secretary Ajay Seth, who gave a presentation outlining the major economic challenges facing the world, said that the G20 must work together to address these problems.
Kristina Kostial, the Deputy Director for Strategy and Policy at the IMF, gave a speech on the major economic problems that the world is currently facing, including trade and the extent of external debt.
The dialogue “discussed many ideas for the world to address such concerns and emerge more resilient to economic vagaries,” according to a statement from the main Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Strengthening soft power
India made every effort to display its culture and colours at the first Sherpa meet in Udaipur, beginning with drumming, traditional Rajasthani musicians, and dancers, and continuing with the final excursion to the Kumbhalgarh fort, a main UNESCO World Heritage Site from the 15th century.
On the first night of the Sherpa track, in addition to wearing their traditional jackets, sherpas and delegates took part in a turban-tying competition. Pawan Vyas, who holds the record for tying the world’s longest turban, measuring 478.5 metres (1,569 feet), in less than 30 minutes without the aid of glue or hairpins, met with G20 representatives.
On Day 2, Indian folk dancers and dancers from Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kathak, Kathakali, and Manipuri entertained the audience as many people cheered.
Background of the G20
The G20 members represent roughly two-thirds of the world’s population, more than 75% of global trade, and 85% of the world’s GDP.
From December 1, 2022, to month November 30, 2023, India will serve as G20 leader. At least 43 delegation heads will attend the last New Delhi Summit, which will be held in September of the following year. Throughout India’s term, there will be more than 200 meetings with ministers, government officials, and members of civil society, leading up to a main final summit in September 2023.
Following the Asian Financial Crisis of 1999, the G20 was created as a forum for communication and idea exchange between Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors.
Following the global economic and financial crisis of 2007, the G20 was elevated to the status of Heads of State or Government, and in 2009 it was dubbed the “premier forum for international economic cooperation.”
Under the G20, several tracks
The G20 Summit is led by a different president each year. The G20 initially focused on significant macroeconomic concerns, but it has since broadened its agenda to include trade, climate change, and sustainable development, health, agriculture, energy, environment, and anti-corruption.
The Sherpa track and the Finance track, both of which are led by central bank governors and finance ministers, are the two tracks that make up the G20. Within the two tracks, there are thematically specific working groups with participants from member ministries, invited/guest countries, and various international organisations. The Sherpas manage negotiations while discussing Summit agenda items all year long.
There are 13 working groups, including the Disaster, Risk and Resilience Group and the Startup20 Engagement Group, both of which India established during its presidency. Energy, trade and also investment, development, employment, tourism, agriculture, the digital economy, health, education, culture, and anti-corruption are just a few of the topics covered by the 13 working groups.
The primary topics of discussion in the trade and investment discussions will be resilient global value chains, integrating small and medium-sized industries, and international trade and trade for growth and prosperity. The subjects of development, data for development, advancing the attainment of SDGs, and eco-friendly lifestyles will be covered.
The employment working group will talk about closing the global skills gap, sustainable financing for main social security, gig and also platform economy and social security, and green tourism while the tourism working group will talk about green tourism, digitisation for the transformation of tourism, and tourism skills.
While the digital economy will focus on digital public infrastructure, open digital platforms, cybersecurity, and cyber safety, the agriculture group will discuss improving food safety and nutrition, environmentally friendly agriculture, agriculture technology, and digitisation.
The prevention, preparation, and response to health emergencies will be discussed, as well as digital health for improved service delivery and universal access. Discussions will also focus on encouraging cooperation in the areas of vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics.
Low-cost financing for energy transitions, G20 cooperation on bioenergy, the green hydrogen principles, which are seen as crucial in the transition to a decarbonized economy, and universal access to clean energy will be the main topics of the energy discussions.
The First Finance and also Central Bank Deputies Meeting, scheduled for December 13–15 in Bengaluru, will host the following round of discussions for the first Finance track.
G20 India Presidency: Chance for Delhi
The international agenda can be influenced by Indian foreign policy. Delhi will need to implement policies that take into account the shifting demographics.
The G20 presidency of India, which started on December 1, comes at a precarious time. The divisions in the world over the conflict in Ukraine were evident at the Bali summit. The leadership of Indonesia saved the day and allowed for a joint declaration. Delhi is now in the lead. The G20’s main objectives are to ensure global financial stability and the equitable distribution of the main benefits of economic growth, including technological advancements.
The question is how to accomplish this while a war is raging in Europe that has disrupted economies by restricting access to fuel, foodgrain, and also fertiliser, just as countries started to formulate recovery plans and the pandemic’s hold had begun to loosen. For any significant ideas to emerge at the end of the year, India will need to navigate the group’s divisions regarding the war as well as its own issues with China and the rivalry between China and the US. India’s foreign policy has a rare opportunity to influence the global agenda during the presidency.
India’s presidency will undoubtedly be influenced by its neutral stance in the Ukrainian war. According to an official statement from Delhi, it will be used to “reflect on concerns of the global South.” India has a long history of having independent foreign policy and using it to advocate for what was formerly known as the Third World as the movement’s leader.
In an opinion piece (IE, December 1), Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that he hoped to present India’s governance models as “possible templates” for global solutions. Unified Payment Interface and the digitization of public goods delivery are just two examples of the world-class domestic technological interventions in governance made possible by India’s knowledge industry, one of the more important effects of the economy’s liberalisation in 1991.
The technology for UPI and Aadhaar is already being shared by Delhi with some nations, and it hopes to do so with more in the future. At the same time, this may be the “fastest growing large economy” but there is no forgetting that it is a highly unequal one: The world’s largest number of poor people live here. India will soon surpass China in terms of population, and in order to prevent more people from being born into poverty or from falling back into it, India will need to implement policies that take into account the changing demographics.
Promote environmentally friendly lifestyles as part of India’s “ambitious, action-oriented, and decisive” G20 agenda, according to PM Modi, who also stated that “depoliticizing” the world’s food, fertiliser, and medical supply chains will remain a top priority.
An intriguing call for a “honest conversation among the most powerful countries” on “mitigating risks posed by weapons of mass destruction and enhancing global security” may be merely a boilerplate restatement of India’s long-standing stance on nuclear disarmament, but it may also be relevant to the Russia-Ukraine theatre where Moscow’s threat to use nuclear weapons has alarmed the entire world. Making peace is never an easy task, and the G20 may not be the best venue given its diverse membership and individual geopolitical preferences. Such a project could only veer off the achievable schedule.
edited and proofread by nikita sharma