Can G20 Success Bring India On To The Global Hi-Table?

Mr. Modi and his team of hard-working officials, who have made a remarkable impact on the minds above the Western and the developing world by bringing the African Union states as a member of the G20. A long-standing demand of the African Union who have felt marginalized especially so during the pandemic.
PM Modi_G20.

The success of India's G20 event – some say - could be regarded as India's coming out party just like Beijing’s achievement of a global impact with the Olympic Games in 2008.

Once the excitement and exhaustion of the G20 summit has gone, and Mr Modi and his G-20 team settles down to a serious analysis of what’s been achieved and how should New Delhi take its success forward, as the G20 event certainly was a big success. The African Union’s smooth entry into G20 is a big achievement or should it be the Summit's agreed statement – without putting Russia in the dock for its Ukraine war – where hardly anyone had expected a consensus over it. But a dozen drafts later, clearly Dr Jaishanker and our diplomats have a lot to feel smug about. Or was it the now much talked about the India Middle East European economic corridor (IME EE) trade corridor deal, that's a big blow to China’s BRI plans? What was remarkable was how smoothly it was all achieved.
The 18th G20 summit was unlike any other before it. The success of India's G20 event – some say - could be regarded as India's coming out party just like Beijing’s achievement of a global impact with the Olympic Games in 2008. The difference being that hosting an Olympic Games has a different set of tactical requirements, and does not have the kind of sensitivities involved in hosting a summit of world leaders. This one was held, with the exception of the leaders of China and Russia, but good for India that their leaders chose to abstain! Getting a resolution was much easier.

What bringing in the African Union into G-20 means

Credit must be given to both Mr. Modi and his team of hard-working officials who have made this remarkable impact on the minds of the Western world, with the event. Traditionally with the expansion requests for the UNSC, they'd waffle inanities and go back to their arrogant circle of capitals that runs from Beijing to Washington, and back to their other pressing business as the aspiring developing world would look on helplessyly, till the next UN meet. So the demand of the developing world, led by India, specially the 50 plus AU's African nations - who were marginalized especially so during the pandemic – notwithstanding. The pandemic proved that the rich world’s leaders were too busy instead, not leading but scrambling to deal with the crisis at home and it showed the absence of leadership that the world had been looking forward to. India did more with its vaccine diplomacy than they collectively did!
In fact, it has shown to us, that the Western world in a crisis despite their vast strategic resources, with a string of think thanks, had been incapable of producing ideas in dealing with that global crisis. I have argued – since April 2020 - that by spreading the pandemic the Chinese wanted to expose the limitations of the Western world, in dealing with a global crisis, so that the West can be shown to be hollow with all its promises and assertions.
However, let us shift the spotlight back to what the Summit has done for India - that is also Bharat - and to Mr Modi’s image. What Mr. Modi has achieved is putting himself in the global spotlight, as not just a go to leader for the Indian masses but also a leader who can actually deliver on his promises in a powerful forum of world leaders, as he has done by getting the African Union so smoothly into the G20. By bringing the AU into this club, Modi has no doubt achieved a master stroke. But where do we go from here?
As is often said, the devil lies in the details; and to ensure that the promises made in Delhi do not fall flat as they often do after these large summits, which are for photo opportunities as well for leaders to engage with each other. And once the business of the summit is done over they get back to business as usual at home. That would be a real disappointment because here is India's opportunity to get on to the world's high tables and stay there and not let all the pronouncements and all the money that has gone into making the G20, such a huge global event -go waste.
Most G20 countries have announced their support for AU to be included, which has twice the number of countries than the EU. But will they drop their smug attitude towards these countries? For too long the West has exploited Africa’s resources and also propped up their dictators that gave them lucrative contracts, leaving their masses to survive Africa’s heat and dust and its many civil wars. India will have to push for this to change now.
Mr. Modi and his team of hard-working officials, who have made a remarkable impact on the minds of the Western and the developing world by bringing the African Union states as a members of the G20. Its a long-standing demand of the African Union who have felt marginalized especially so during the pandemic. Africa is the continent to look for engagement with its massive natural resources ranging from minerals to oil, but most importantly it can be the leadership platform that India has been looking for to challenge the domination of the rich countries and the P5 in the UN security council.

Indo Saudi economic partnership

And the other master stroke has been Mr Modi’s decision to hold a bi-lateral meeting with Saudi Arabia on the sidelines of the summit – protocols be damned – to agree on the India-Saudi Arabia trade corridor leading to East Europe. This had the EU excited and gave India a double whammy punch against China. The trade corridor has been hailed by everyone as a big blow to the ambitions of the Chinese president's pet project the Belt and Road initiative (BRI). While the BRI is now in its 10th year and China has poured in funds in excess of a trillion dollars plus its entire geo political heft into it, to ensure that the BRI would give China control over the whole range of countries that it now has tied up in ‘debt trap’ diplomacy – as were the cases of Sri Lanka, Pakistan as well as the cases of many African countries- many wanted a way out. It is a stark reminder to the world China is unsympathetic to the growth needs of the developing world it wants to dominate. It might still do so considering the fact that it's not going to be easy for countries to get out of China's debt trap.
Economically the big success story could be the India Middle East European economic (IME EE) corridor. It could be a big challenge to the Chinese BRI. But it’ll take some years and China has a lead of a decade. The Saudi’s are willing to invest $100 billion in alternative energy projects in India. This could make India an energy exporter and energy self-sufficient. But beware of the deep ties of Pakistan with the Saudis, and their nuclear weapon program that helps them extract financial bailouts, as they’ve just received promises of a $26 billion dollar package from Riyadh. It could disrupt this initiative, though even the Saudis know Pakistan is a basket case. And with even the US keen to set up six small nuclear reactors in India– the new model for nuclear energy – power cuts in India will be a thing of the past.
I would argue that by spreading the pandemic the Chinese had wanted to expose the limitations of the Western world – in this new Cold war - as the West has been shown to be hollow with its promises and even weak with its assertions. However, let us shift the spotlight back at Mr. Modi. He has achieved is putting himself into the spotlight not just as a go to leader for the Indian masses but also a leader who can actually deliver on his promises, as he has done by getting the African Union so smoothly and incoperated into the G20. But to ensure that the promises made in Delhi do not fall flat as they often do after these large summits which become only photo opportunities as well leaders engage with each other. Once the business is done over two days they get back to business as usual. That would be a real disappointment because here is India's opportunity to get on to the world high tables and stay there and not let all the pronouncements and all the money that has gone into making the G20 such a huge global event, go waste.
Clearly Africa is the continent to look for engagement, with its massive natural resources. They were looking for leadership and for India it is a leadership platform to challenge the domination of the rich countries and the P5 in the UN security council. There was an opportunity that was presented to India during Dr Manmohan Singh's time to lead the 53-nation Commonwealth countries group but the traditional coyness of Dr Singh coupled with the politics of South India let him lose that opportunity; and India still hangs around as a member of large committee of nations who carry no weight in the UN. But now the master stroke of India becoming the spokesperson of the global South can alter India's standing and pave the way for a new Order. It will be a real dividend of all the effort that was put into the G 20. But if we now get bogged down in the slow ways of our bureaucracy, unable to come up with a blue print of what to do next, then the India of tomorrow will never forgive those who've failed us, eventually.
There was an opportunity in NAM in the 1950s and then one was presented to India to lead the 53 nation Commonwealth countries (CHOGM) in Colombo in 2013, but India lost that opportunity. So India still hangs around as a member of a large committee of nations who carry no weight at the UN. But this master stroke India becoming the spokesperson of the global South could alter India's standing and pave the way for a new world order. Hence India must keep its foot on the gas pedal. The UN is now a toothless and defunct global body. The world is divided between the US-led West and the Russia -China group. India should seek reforms in the UN - with the backing of the AU- or walk out and carve a new path. Earlier efforts have led to a speech here and there. We must ask for our permanent right on the horse shoe table. But can we do it?
End of Article
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