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Volume IconWhat does the G-20 presidency mean for India?

In a few days from now, India will take over the presidency of G20. The country, which is being seen as a 'bright spot in the dark horizon', will hold the chair for one year starting December 1

ImageBhaswar Kumar New Delhi

Come December 1, India will assume the G20 presidency for a year and preside over 200 meetings that aim to secure global economic growth and prosperity during this time. Together, the G20 members represent more than 80 per cent of world GDP, 75 per cent of international trade and 60 per cent of the world’s population.

The G20 is a strategic multilateral platform connecting the world’s major developed and emerging economies.

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Over the years, the G20 has evolved into a yearly summit involving the heads of state and government. Sherpa meetings are also carried out to negotiate and build consensus. Working groups and special events are also organised throughout the year.

India’s sherpa is Amitabh Kant, the former chief executive officer of the NITI Aayog. According to Kant, G20 meetings will be held in every Indian state, and the leaders’ summit will be held in September next year in New Delhi.

The meetings will cover the finance and sherpa tracks, along with 10 engagement groups that will involve the private sector, civil society and independent bodies. G20’s Finance Track has eight workstreams, including global macroeconomic policies, infrastructure financing and international taxation. The Sherpa Track’s 12 workstreams include fighting corruption, digital economy, environment and climate.

The government recently released the logo for the G20 meetings and summit, along with a theme and a web site. These were done through a speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which also revealed India's three guiding principles going into the G20 presidency. First, serving as a bridge between the developed and developing world. Second, serving as the representative of the eastern bloc of nations. And third, insulating the G20 from some of the divisive pressures that have paralysed multilateralism elsewhere.

Other than an influence over the G20’s agenda, the presidency does not come with any formal power. But, the ‘influence’ can allow India to turn the discussion in the directions it prefers. Put simply, this is an opportunity for the country to emerge as a leader to solve some of the most pressing issues facing humanity today. However, the details of how it will achieve that are complex.

Under India’s leadership, according to Amitabh Kant, G20 nations will look to find consensus on major challenges like a slowing global economy, a debt crisis that will impact almost 70 countries, millions around the world slipping back into poverty due to Covid-19 and the existential climate crises.

Amitabh Kant byte.

Among the two most important challenges is India’s climate action agenda at the G20. Highlighting that the developed world has not lived up to its pledge of hitting 100 billion dollars in climate finance a year to developing countries by 2020, Kant says the focus will be on ensuring that they provide adequate finance, keeping in line with climate justice.

According to him, the other challenge will be getting the developed world to restructure multilateral financial institutions so that they are geared towards increased blended finance, first-loss guarantee and credit enhancement. The goal will be to make these institutions better vehicles for achieving sustainable development and climate action.

The second key agenda item will be reforms in institutions like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation. The aim is to make them more attuned to the needs and aspirations of developing economies.

Amitabh Kant byte.

India’s former ambassador to the EU and former deputy permanent representative to the UN, Manjeev Singh Puri says with India in the G20 chair, which will be followed by Brazil’s presidency, this is the time to push for reforms in multilateral institutions to reflect contemporary realities.  

He adds that the developed countries, which may have been opposed to such an agenda, can now see that India is chairing a group of the world’s most important countries, including them. This will make them realise that having India inside the tent will be more advantageous to them.

Manjeev Singh Puri byte.

Puri also stresses that India is uniquely placed as it takes over the presidency of the G20.  

Manjeev Singh Puri byte.
India’s G20 presidency comes at a time when it aspires to become a 5-trillion-dollar economy and a truly digital democracy. Against this backdrop, the purpose of India's presidency must be to focus on those international issues that are not only relevant to the country’s development trajectory, but also achievable through consensus.

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First Published: Nov 11 2022 | 2:06 PM IST

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