Author: Air Cmde Savinder Pal Singh VSM (Retd), Senior Fellow, Centre for Air Power Studies
Keywords: Quad, India, G20, Raisina Dialogue
In the recently concluded Group of Twenty (G20) Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM), held under India’s G20 Presidency, in New Delhi from March 1-2, 2023, the foreign ministers of the Quad countries held talks on issues relating to the convergence of interests of the member nations. The Foreign Ministers of the Quad unanimously reaffirmed the grouping’s commitment to a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ inlight of China flexing its muscles in the Indo-Pacific. The highlight of this meeting was the announcement of the formation of a Quad working group on counter-terrorism that would explore various options to combat new and evolving forms of terrorism, radicalisation, and violent extremism.
Quad and G20 Presidency of India
The G20 is the leading forum for economic cooperation on a global scale. It plays a significant role in all significant international economic issues, forming and strengthening global architecture and governance. The work within G20 has traditionally been concentrated with a ‘twin track’ approach; Financial Track and Sherpa Track. The agenda are thematically divided in this two track approach. Finance Track focuses on economic issues while Sherpa Track focuses on non-financial issues like trade, sustainable development, health, agriculture, energy, environment, climate change, and anti-corruption.
For the period of one year commencing December 1, 2022, India holds the presidency of the G20. India has the opportunity to lead one of the most effective multilateral forums for global governance during this presidency. In the backdrop of the prevailing geopolitical period of economic revival post-COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty prevailing due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, the most critical issues facing humanity today are global in scope, interconnected, and demand coordinated action from the G20 nations. This is clearly enunciated in the motto for the 2023 summit ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ or ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future.’ At this juncture, the world is expecting India to play a pivotal role in overcoming this geopolitical divide and taking the initiative in paving the way for dialogue-based cooperation for world peace and prosperity. In fact, most members are hopeful that India’s presidency will influence the formulation of a clear G20 position on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
There are many firsts taking place during the G20 presidency of India. The traditional Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) was conducted over three days from February 22 to 25, 2023, in Bengaluru, with the main FMCBG preceded by a meeting of G20 Finance and Central Bank Deputies (FCBD) along with a number of side events like meetings held to discuss cross-border payments, national payment systems, and policy perspectives on crypto assets. There are a large number of events planned prior to the G20 summit of heads of state in September 2023.
The G20 FMM was convened at a time when the world is facing numerous challenges, such as slow progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), climate change, economic slowdown, debt distress, unequal pandemic recovery, food and energy insecurity, and disruptions to the global supply chain, all of which are happening against the background of ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Even though there is no requirement or precedent for a statement at the FMM, in a bid to achieve consensus, the Indian External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar, not only held a number of bilateral meetings ahead of the FMM but also called for the Quad meeting on the sidelines of the Raisina dialogue. Quad members were expected to review the global situation in light of the progress of the objectives of the Quad vis-à-vis the food and energy crises and the disruption of the global supply chain.
Challenges for India and Way Forward
India is emerging on the global map as a mature, wise, and growth-oriented nation. With the G20 presidency in the crucial year of multiple conflict zones across the world, even while most of the nations have not yet recovered from the economic slowdown of the twin years of the COVID-19 pandemic, India is rightly expected to use this opportunity to broker peace between United States-led Western countries (mostly NATO nations) and the Russia-China combine group. The threats to global food security that are made worse by the current conflicts and tensions deeply concern India. Fostering the accessibility, affordability, sustainability, equity, and open flow of food and resources to combat hunger and malnutrition throughout the world is another major challenge. Another issue that requires unanimity of opinion is the nature and extent of connections between organised crime and terrorism, including the trafficking of weapons and drugs, corruption, money laundering, and other crimes that may support terrorism.
India’s theme for the agenda of the G20 is ‘inclusive, ambitious, action-oriented, and decisive.’ Given how divided the world is today, it seems essential to be ‘inclusive’ in order to make significant progress on a global scale. India, under the leadership of Narendra Modi, recently held the largest digital summit of ministers and leaders from developing nations. More than 120 countries took part in the ‘Voice of the Global South Summit,’ which was a reflection of India’s desire to engage the Global South directly. Additionally, it was a crucial chance to hear from the developing nations about what they anticipated from the G20 summit under the Indian presidency. It is encouraging that the G20 members and the invited members are recognising India’s repeated emphasis on the need for cooperation to find solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. The most important part of this unique effort by India is that it insists on a whole-humanity approach where not only governments but also businesses, civil society, and youth, among others, play an important role in realising peaceful solutions. India is making impressions on world leaders in unique ways, like the creation of ‘participation groups’ that are crucial in directing the country’s ‘whole of society’ strategy and offering chances for lateral, subject-area experts to reshape global narratives. It is obvious that, through the theme of the G20, India is taking multiple initiatives to inspire the world to care for each other and to have greater degrees of dialogue and concern for the planet and the future of the next generations. The world is watching India’s presidency of the G20 for consensus and the resolution of global conflict situations, and India seems to be on the right track to achieve its motto, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.
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