India takes onus to steer G20 to economic agenda

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, November 16: Indonesia handed over the G20 leadership to India at the Summit in Bali at a time when the last day of the conclave was gripped with tension over Russia raining missiles on Ukraine, while two people in Poland died for the collateral damage. The G7 and Russia sought to influence the final declaration, which was not a statement of consensus, as the statement mentioned in a passing reference the reservations against the western wont of imposing unilateral sanctions.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo had travelled to Moscow and Kiev to talk peace to the Russia and Ukraine, which are locked in war since February this year. His missives yielded no results. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi would seek that the warring sides don’t derail the economic agenda of the G20.

“India is taking charge of the G-20 at a time when the world is simultaneously grappling with geopolitical tensions, economic slowdown, rising food and energy prices, and the long-term ill-effects of the pandemic. At such a time, the world is looking at the G-20 with hope. Today, I want to assure that India’s G-20 presidency will be inclusive, ambitious, decisive, and action-oriented,” said Modi in his closing remarks at the G20 Summit in Bali.

The voice of G20 wouldn’t matter to influence the decisions of either Moscow or Kiev, for the two war-locked countries are engaged in a prolonged battle to settle scores with strings being pulled by the western powers to cripple the Russian influence. Russia holds the ace with its energy resources by which Moscow has already sent the European powers in recession, with soaring prices of the daily essentials.

In this context, India with G20 leadership may seek to steer G7 to open channels for communication with Moscow, and not push Russian President Vladimir Putin to the wall. China may stay out of frame from G20 for next one year, as Beijing has soured its relations with New Delhi by unilaterally seeking to alter the status quo on the line of actual control in Eastern Ladakh. India and China standoff is now more than two years old at the LAC, which has evidently dented the bilateral relations. India has not maintained top level official contact with China since the Eastern Ladakh standoff set in 2020.

But India’s deepening of engagement in Quad, which also has Japan, the US, Australia as members, may have resonance with the Indian leadership of the G20. Quad has taken the task to build resilient and reliant global supply chains, with clear strategy to cut down on the Chinese dependence. This sets China as a rival to the changing economic order, which may further vitiate as the developed world has become wary of Beijing after hawkish statements of Xi Jinping at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China.

Modi has sought in the recent years to take the global leadership on climate action, which may emerge as the key area of deliberations for G20 next year. “The sense of ownership over natural resources is giving rise to conflict today, and has become the main cause of the plight of the environment. For the safe future of the planet, the sense of trusteeship is the solution. LiFE i.e. ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ campaign can make a big contribution to this. Its purpose is to make sustainable lifestyles a mass movement,” added Modi at the G20 Summit. .

He underlined that the “need today is that the benefits of development are universal and all-inclusive”. “We have to extend the benefits of development to all human beings with compassion and solidarity. Without peace and security, our future generations will not be able to take advantage of economic growth or technological innovation. The G-20 has to convey a strong message in favour of peace and harmony. All these priorities are fully embodied in the theme of India’s G-20 Chairmanship – One Earth, One Family, One Future.”

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