The city of New Delhi is poised to welcome leaders from the world’s richest and most influential countries at the G20 Summit beginning on September 9. For the first time, India will play host to such an illustrious gathering. In preparation:
- The capital has been beautified with ornamental flowers, refurbished public buildings, and fresh paint on sidewalks.
- Advanced security measures include anti-drone systems, langur cutouts to deter monkeys, and a security force of 130,000 personnel comprising police and para-military units.
The G20, consisting of the world’s 20 major countries, was formed in the aftermath of the 1999 Asian financial crisis. Recognizing that economic issues transcended national boundaries, they aimed to foster better international economic cooperation.
Who’s Who of the G20?
The G20 accounts for 80% of the global GDP and 75% of international trade. Members include:
- Major economies such as the US, UK, China, and India.
- The European Union representing multiple European nations.
Following the 2008 financial crisis, annual summits were initiated, allowing leaders of member nations to meet and discuss pressing global issues.
Agenda and Challenges
This year, under India’s presidency, key issues on the table include:
- Loan provisions to developing nations.
- International debt architecture reforms.
- Cryptocurrency regulations.
- Effects of geopolitical uncertainties on food and energy security.
However, consensus has eluded the group, primarily due to disagreements over the war in Ukraine. While nations like the US, France, and Canada seek strong condemnation of Moscow, Russia and China oppose such a stance.
The Summit Theme
India’s theme for the G20 Summit, inspired by the Sanskrit phrase “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, translates to “The World is One Family”. It reflects the sentiment of unity and collective growth.
A Struggle for Unity?
The prime responsibility of forging a consensus among the major powers rests on the shoulders of India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. Notably, key leaders like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have chosen not to attend the summit, hinting at underlying conflicts.
The G20’s relevance seems to be waning, with the challenge of bringing diverse nations together on a common platform. While it was pivotal in addressing the global financial crisis, the G20’s effectiveness has since diminished. Several reasons are attributed to this decline:
- The group’s diverse membership.
- Absence of a permanent secretariat.
- Deep-seated geopolitical differences.
Proposals have been made to expand the G20 by including the African Union, a move championed by Modi. However, this might make decision-making even more challenging.
G21: A New Addition?
This summit holds the potential to be historic, with the African Union (AU) poised to join, transforming the G20 into the G21. India, advocating for the AU’s inclusion, believes that for a comprehensive future plan, all global voices must be represented and recognized.
The AU, encompassing 55 countries, offers diverse perspectives, although some member nations are skeptical about the tangible impact of this inclusion. Several African nations face internal conflicts, political issues, and territorial disputes, casting doubt over the AU’s political cohesiveness. For instance:
- Eight regional economic committees in the AU, such as the Arab Maghreb Union and the Southern African Development Community, have evolved individually with distinct roles.
- Controversies arise over the inclusion of countries in the AU that lack UN recognition, namely Somaliland and the Sahraoui Arab Democratic Republic. Despite these challenges, the AU’s membership in the G20, officially turning it into G21, is slated to be confirmed on September 9, 2023.
The Role of Host Nation: India
India’s role as the host nation will be under scrutiny, not just for the smooth conduct of the summit, but also for its diplomatic finesse in navigating the choppy waters of global politics. PM Narendra Modi’s leadership and India’s stance on various global issues will significantly influence the summit’s outcomes. It’s an opportunity for India to cement its position as a major global player, fostering alliances and championing causes that resonate with emerging economies.
As New Delhi readies itself to host this crucial summit, the world watches with bated breath. The outcomes, challenges, and new alliances will not only reshape the G20 (or G21) but also pave the way for future international collaborations.