India emerged as the world’s problem solver with a human centric approach keeping updated with real time geo-political challenges and threats.
The recently concluded G20 Summit in Delhi has been a resounding success. The consensus on major contentious issues even such as the Ukraine war was achieved much earlier than one would have ever anticipated.
However, the tectonic shift when compared to the previous editions of this summit was, India’s lead in issuing a broad economic plan for the Global South and providing the African Union with the appropriate platform and forum to raise their collective grievances and concerns.
For so long what had been a virtue signalling by the world’s most powerful nations coming together on the subject of those primarily left deprived, transcended into concrete reality when Dr Jaishankar paved the way for President Azali Assoumani representing the 55 African Nations to take the permanent seat at the high table of the G20. So much was President Assoumani’s exuberance and delight that when Prime Minister Modi as the chair for this year’s G20, extended his hand for a congratulatory shake, President Assoumani hugged him with emotions bursting of gratitude and affection.
Prime Minister Modi has repeatedly spoken about structural reforms being the need of the hour to address the plight of the Global South. His mantra during this entire presidency of the G20 has been for re-imagining the globalisation that leaves no one behind, thus making a strong pitch for a “more diversified and a more democratic” re-globalisation.
With regards to the opaque debt traps, be it by China or from the institutions from the G7 countries, not enough had been stressed on how low and middle income countries are arm twisted to spend more on repayments against debts than meeting their climate goals for instance.
Centre for Science and Environment, just ahead of the Paris summit in 2016 had highlighted how inequalities had made developing countries dependent on imports of food, energy and goods reducing their ability to invest in growth. Figures calculated by the Jubilee Debt Campaign from IMF and World Bank data depicted that 18% of government revenue is being spent by the Global South in debt servicing. Shocks like the Covid-19 pandemic have stretched domestic spending capabilities of developing countries. For gas-dependent developing countries energy crisis driven by the Russian war on Ukraine had left them unable to afford LNG supplies and hindered the industry’s aspiration to switch from coal to gas in countries like India.
India within the domain of geopolitics has incrementally emerged with a resilient reputation of a world balancer with an astute and robust foreign policy. The PM Modi-led presidency of the G20 was declared a unanimous success by all leaders attending the summit where consensus building between all nations was carefully calibrated.
This G20 saw a truly Modi-fied summit where leaders from all walks of life felt acknowledged and respected. However, the most significant milestone agreement that was inked in this summit was the Global Infrastructure Investment project which would aim to create an economic and political cooperation between India, Middle East and Europe.
At present India is the 10th biggest trading partner of the EU at 2% share of the pie, well behind China which occupies almost 17% of the same pie.
India’s trade with the Middle-East was up almost 22% from previous years, now nearing $50bn. The estimates are that when this Global Infrastructure Investment project does get accomplished creating an East Corridor connecting India to West Asia and a North Corridor connecting West Asia to Europe, it will enhance and accelerate trade between India and EU by 40% and certainly augment the trade between India and the Middle-East as a consequence.
As a consequence of this arrangement, analysts foresee India to end up lapping up the lion’s share of the benefits, with a substantial output growth within India’s MSME sector and involvement in considerable road and rail projects which would dislodge China’s hegemony in global infrastructure projects.
The fact that President Biden was at the helm playing a pivotal role to getting this project inked out, there is no doubt that this could be looked at from a prism to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). However, we have to remember that the BRI projects with almost all nations haven’t really yielded more than its hype. With Italy now mulling to exit, many could take precedence to follow suit. The BRI projects are designed to strap other partnering nations with opaque debt traps with projects which are almost built as white elephants. In comparison, this initiative which has been in planning stages since January 2023 initiated by the US between India and Saudi Arabia, will go through various commissions within the respective nations involved for the requisite approvals to ascertain its financial & economic viability before any funding is allocated.
Thus rather than looking at it as a mere counter to BRI, we should be viewing it as India creating economic synergies which will benefit all stakeholders.
It has been Joe Biden’s pet project to create normalcy in the Middle East especially between Saudi and Israel and what better way to do that by fostering economic, strategic & political cooperation.
The next 60 days are going to be crucial when the working group sits together to work the permutation combinations of the plan, timelines and, most importantly, the logistics.
In summary, if one had to review the congregation of the G20 2023, India has certainly emerged Modi-fied as the world’s problem solver with a human centric approach keeping updated with real time geo-political challenges and threats. India’s steadfast leadership has paved the way for the next subsequent G20s to be held in Brazil (2024) and South Africa (2025) to work more efficiently and effectively on global issues impacting every citizen of the world.
- Adit Kothari is a Calcuttan residing in London as a Pravasi Bharatiya, working to dismantle the plethora of false narratives and misinformation on India and Hindutva.