India puts Global South on top of G20 agenda

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India’s G20 presidency has stood as a remarkable testament to the values of multiculturalism and inclusivity. India’s rich tapestry of cultures, languages, and traditions has taken centre stage, extending a warm and hospitable welcome to leaders and delegates from diverse backgrounds. In a groundbreaking move, India became the first G20 host nation to open up its entire nation to host various G20 meetings during its presidency, ensuring the meaningful engagement of its various states.

India’s G20 leadership has redefined its identity as a collective that aims to achieve green growth, prioritise technological advancements, and foster inclusive economic development. In a G20 summit focused on revitalising, reforming, and safeguarding globalisation, the ancient Indian philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, meaning “the world is one family,” has transcended its traditional role of hospitality to resonate as a rallying cry: “One Earth, One Family, One Future.” This powerful ethos underscores the interconnectedness of cultures across geographies and, akin to familial bonds, underscores our responsibility to those marginalised and yet to reap the benefits of globalisation.

READDelhi Declaration: G20’s blueprint for a sustainable world economy

India puts focus on Global South

India has not only reshaped the G20’s tone, but also its essence. The G20 presidency held by India over the past several months has indeed marked the beginning of a deeper understanding of Global South issues within the international community. India’s adept leadership in steering this crucial agenda and crafting a narrative that resonates has played a pivotal role. It has facilitated a shift in perspective, compelling nations to recognise the unique challenges and aspirations of the Global South.

Through inclusive dialogue and pragmatic policymaking, India has encouraged a more empathetic and holistic approach to addressing the needs and concerns of these regions. As a result, the G20 presidency has set the stage for a more equitable global discourse, where the voices of the Global South are increasingly heard and their issues given the attention they rightfully deserve. This shift holds the potential to foster a more balanced and inclusive international order in the years to come.

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For the first time, the Global South has emerged as a focal point. The inclusion of new regions and fresh voices into the G20 process is injecting newfound vigor into global governance, making it more purposeful and inclusive. The G20 has witnessed a paradigm of transparency and openness in its discussions on four vital pillars: development, digitalisation, data, and dharti (earth). These issues transcend national borders and hold the key to shaping the world’s course.

India’s remarkable ability to bridge disparities and nurture dialogues among nations with diverse priorities and viewpoints encapsulates the very essence of the G20 as a platform for all-encompassing global governance. This presidency has firmly underscored the notion that tackling global challenges demands a united effort that acknowledges the distinctiveness of each nation while striving towards common objectives.

4Ds: India’s refreshing agenda for G20

Development: At the core of India’s G20 presidency agenda lies the pivotal issue of development. This issue looms large, impacting nations globally, from developing economies striving for advancement to established democracies like the United States burdened by debt. India has taken a leading role in shaping discussions on economic growth, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development, with a particular focus on addressing indebtedness in both developing and developed nations. This presidency has underscored the imperative of equitable development, recognising that fostering inclusive and balanced growth is essential for a prosperous global future.

Dharti (earth): Environmental sustainability, symbolised by “dharti” (earth), has taken centre stage during India’s G20 presidency. Green growth remains a global challenge, and addressing climate change and promoting sustainability are paramount in G20 discussions. In a world grappling with climate change and ecological issues, India has championed green growth and responsible environmental practices. These discussions have emphasised the critical need to strike a balance between economic development and environmental preservation, setting the stage for meaningful global action on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Digital: India’s G20 presidency has ventured into the digital frontier, showcasing the country’s prowess in leveraging technology for public welfare. Initiatives like the CoWIN platform for COVID-19 vaccinations and the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for retail payments have set global standards for digital innovation. These successes underscore the vital role of digitalisation in enhancing public services, improving financial inclusion, and fostering a more interconnected world. It’s now opportune for India to consider exporting these solutions globally, potentially becoming the nation’s most significant contribution to the world, especially in advancing global financial inclusion.

Data: In the modern age, data has emerged as a critical asset, and India’s G20 presidency acknowledges its significance. Discussions have revolved around data privacy, security, and responsible data sharing for the common good. India has placed a strong emphasis on responsible data governance and international collaboration in data management, reflecting its commitment to ensuring that data serves as a catalyst for progress rather than a source of contention.

Complex and multifaceted conversations concerning cryptocurrencies and decentralised finance (DeFi) are ongoing. Establishing a common minimum program in these areas within the G20 is a challenging but essential task, ensuring that financial stability and innovation progress hand in hand.

India’s achievement in garnering consensus on these four critical areas underscores its nuanced approach to navigating the intricate terrain of domestic politics within each member nation. Leaders are acutely aware of the need to balance their international commitments with the imperative of securing victory in their nations’ domestic elections. Policies and decisions formulated at the G20 table have a direct impact on how leaders are perceived by their constituents back home.

Striking a delicate balance between fostering global cooperation and safeguarding domestic interests demands astute political maneuvering. Leaders must effectively communicate the benefits of G20 initiatives in a manner that resonates with their citizens, ensuring that international commitments align harmoniously with their nations’ long-term interests.

Despite collective commitments made by groups of nations, skepticism often prevails due to past instances of unfulfilled promises. A prime example is climate financing pledges by developed nations, which have frequently fallen short of expectations. To dispel this skepticism, the key lies in the tangible and consistent on-ground execution of commitments.

Demonstrating a genuine commitment to fulfilling obligations, reinforced by transparent reporting and robust accountability mechanisms, is paramount. Only when nations consistently deliver on their promises can negative perceptions be replaced by trust and confidence in the collective endeavors of the international community. In matters as crucial as climate change and global development, actions will indeed speak louder than words.

The Delhi Declaration adopted at the G20 summit holds promise for more successful implementation than previous resolutions due to several key factors. Firstly, it reflects a nuanced understanding of the lessons learned from past skepticism and unfulfilled commitments.

Member nations have shown a heightened awareness of the need for tangible and consistent follow-through on their pledges. Secondly, the Delhi Declaration incorporates robust mechanisms for transparency and accountability, ensuring that nations are held accountable for their promises. Thirdly, it acknowledges the interconnectedness of global challenges, emphasising the shared responsibility of all nations in addressing these issues.

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Srinath Sridharan is a strategic counsel with 25 years experience with leading corporates across diverse sectors including automobiles, e-commerce, advertising and financial services. He understands and ideates on intersection of finance, digital, contextual-finance, consumer, mobility, Urban transformation, and ESG. Actively engaged across growth policy conversations and public policy issues.