The G20 Summit – Making the Change

From a Sri Lankan viewpoint, the finance ministers of the G20 countries, did discuss the challenges faced by the global economy and recognised the “urgency to address debt vulnerabilities” and “look (ed) forward to a swift resolution to Sri Lanka’s debt situation”.

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G20 India's 1st Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting commences last week of February this year in the vibrant city of Bengaluru. [ Photo: Special Arrangement]

New Delhi : Despite diplomatic differences in the G20 Foreign Ministers summit, India has been able to prove that it has been able to make the countries achieve consensus on many issues including climate change, food, fuel and energy security, etc. Keeping in mind the arising differences between countries on many issues including the Ukraine war, India has certainly proved that it not only deserves the Chair it holds, but also holds a coveted position in the current scenario of global diplomacy.

The consensus India hammered out in the last G-20 meet in Bali, Indonesia, had emerged as a challenge for it in its own backyard. But under the great stewardship of India’s Foreign Minister, Mr S Jaishankar, India has played its part diplomatically very well, even while walking a tightrope.

The on-going Ukraine war has created a sharp divide between the West and Russia-China. What precipitated it was NATO’s hardening stance against Russia and at the same time, Russia, with its historic ties with India, would like to expect Delhi to be a coveted strategic partner. Remember, India and China abstained from the UN General Assembly resolution regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

India has reminded the G20 countries through the mantra of its Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, that “today’s era must not be of war”.

While the Russian Foreign Minister, Mr Sergey Lavrov, put the blame on West, saying “unfortunately the joint declaration was not adopted because of the rhetoric of the West”, The US Secretary of State, Mr Anthony Blinken, referred to Russia and China as “outliers”. However, Mr Blinken did agree with the Indian Foreign Minister that 95 percent issues have got consensus.

India will have to keenly watch out for the Sino-Russian closeness and chart out a future course of partnership with Moscow. The growing diplomatic battlelines between China and the US, is a test for India, which Indian diplomats think, will not dilute its bilateral relations with Russia or the US.

In fact, on the other hand, it is a brilliant opportunity for India to showcase its soft-power projection in other geographies. Do not forget, the Quad foreign ministers conference hosted by India close on the heels of the G20 summit.

India’s Prime Minister, Mr Modi, will want to pull off a formula to solve the Ukraine issue with several world leaders urging India to play the role. It may well see the day when Ayurveda settles the issue between allopathy and homeopathy! Hectic diplomatic parleys have already established India’s stupendous growth on the global high table. But the September 2023 G-20 meeting is still a long way to go. Experts think India will be walking the tightest tightrope then, but foreign policy history has proved time and again, that issues and parleys change in hours and days.

India may win the T20 by a comfortable margin in the G20.

From a Sri Lankan viewpoint, the finance ministers of the G20 countries, did discuss the challenges faced by the global economy and recognised the “urgency to address debt vulnerabilities” and “look (ed) forward to a swift resolution to Sri Lanka’s debt situation”. Despite media reports that no concrete commitments were made, it is better not to jump the gun. Policy is laid on a certain day and action taken on another day, and they are fine if they are in time.

India’s Finance Minister, Ms Nirmala Sitharaman, had said that a common position for ‘debt language’ had been arrived at. Sri Lanka, Ghana, Zambia and Ethiopia would benefit from the discussions.  “..Further, we look forward to a swift resolution to Sri Lanka’s debt situation,” she has said late last month.

It is a time now to set realistic expectations during India’s G20 Presidency. Experts say it is just a matter of time before G20 will offer innovative solutions to many problems pressing the world over before critics continue to question its relevance.

Even now, during the geo-political fragmentation and diplomatic hurdles in the backdrop of a pandemic, the ray of hope is still alive. It is expected that the message of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (One Earth, One Family, One Future), will truly resonate.

Ayanjit Sen

Ayanjit Sen is our Special correspondent in New Delhi. He is an International Affairs expert, international-award winning senior journalist, consultant on Media Diplomacy and author. He has worked for over 24 years as a digital and television journalist with CNN (Delhi and Hongkong), BBC News (London and Delhi), ESPN, ABP, The Statesman, India Today Group & Times Now. Nearly half of his career, he has worked with international media organizations. He is currently working as a professor of media management in Bennett University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India (part of the Times of India Group). He has worked in several parts of the globe including Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, France, Pakistan, Bangladesh, UK and Afghanistan.

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