The expectation is that India’s G20 Presidency will serve as a big banner in Prime Minister Modi’s election campaign, to showcase him as a global statesman from a powerful country that can lead the G20 bloc to reach its goals by overcoming geopolitical rivalries and competitions, and bringing about consensus on a number of global issues and concerns, writes Valdai Club expert Nivedita Das Kundu.
For India, the Group of 20 (G20) Presidency is an opportunity to showcase Delhi’s diplomatic reach and leadership on global issues. The theme of India’s G20 Presidency is Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam
, which means “One Earth, One Family, One Future”.
The G20 format was created in the 1990s, and is comprised of 19 different countries and the European Union, representing around 85 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product. In addition to its members, the G20 also invites non-member countries, including Bangladesh, Singapore, Spain and Nigeria, as well as international organisations such as the United Nations, World Health Organization, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to attend its meetings and summits.
The G20 includes world’s major developed and developing economies as well as powerful nations; its members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. G20 meetings and summits discuss issues including trade and economic matters, climate change, health care, food and energy security, global supply chains, geo-political tensions, and how to increase the effectiveness of international cooperation.
India, during its G20 Presidency, has positioned itself as the voice of the Global South and has tried to raise issues which are pertinent to the region. However, the deep global division over the Russia-Ukraine crisis dominated the conversation in its finance ministers’ and foreign ministers’ meetings, held during February and March 2023 in New Delhi. However, India has maintained a neutral stance on the crisis and has tried to play a vital role in bridging differences between the West and Russia. India’s G20 Presidency is also seen as an opportunity for India’s ruling political party to showcase its achievements and diplomatic reach ahead of India’s 2024 general election. The expectation is that India’s G20 Presidency will serve as a big banner in Prime Minister Modi’s election campaign, to showcase him as a global statesman from a powerful country that can lead the G20 bloc to reach its goals by overcoming geopolitical rivalries and competitions, and bringing about consensus on a number of global issues and concerns.
India’s Prime Minister’s statement that “today’s era must not be of war,” was echoed in the G20 leaders’ summit in Bali, and India has been trying to bridge the differences between Russia and the United States and its allies with regards to the Russia-Ukraine crisis ever since. Nonetheless, the divisions over the crisis still stood in the way of the G20 foreign and finance ministers finding common ground during the meetings.The G20 foreign ministers’ meeting and finance ministers’ meeting covered a wide range of issues that are crucial for the global community, but the deep global division over the Russia-Ukraine crisis continues to pose a challenge to international cooperation and coordination. India’s attempt to play a vital role in mediating between Russia and the United States and its allies reflect its commitment to global peace and stability.
India’s G20 Presidency has provided an opportunity for the country to showcase its development stories, pragmatic interventions, and proposed efficient solutions in a post-pandemic world. The G20 Presidency is also being seen as an opportunity for the ruling political party of India, the Bharatiya Janata Party, to use Prime Minister Modi’s international credentials to portray him as a key player in the global order and improve his stature both at home and abroad.
India has maintained close relationships with both the USA and Russia and that was reflected in the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting and finance ministers’ meeting. These meetings were significant for discussing bilateral relations between India and China too. The visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang to India was the first since the Tawang clash, and the leaders discussed current challenges, bilateral relationships, and how to maintain peace in the border areas. The G20 Foreign Ministers Meet (FMM) also focussed on Beijing’s balancing act between the US-led West and Russia amid the Ukraine crisis. India hosted many important world leaders for G20 meetings, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It is known that India’s ties with Russia dates back to the Soviet era, its civilizational links, defence cooperation, and people-to-people contact remains strong. They are strategic partners and trusted friends; however, India is balancing its relationship with both the US and Russia diplomatically.