India assumes G20 chair, aims to emerge as leader of Global South

By Indira Guerrero

New Delhi, Dec 1 (EFE).- India on Thursday assumed the presidency of the G20, at a time when its economy has remained resilient despite global pressures and scrutiny over its neutral stance on the Ukraine war.

New Delhi has tried to position itself as the leading voice of the Global South seeking to shape the global agenda.

India is taking the chair from Indonesia and is to be succeeded by Brazil, forming a unique trio of developing economies that provides a “South” perspective to the bloc’s leadership at a critical juncture.

India has not had such an opportunity since 1983, when it took over the presidency of the non-aligned movement from Cuba’s Fidel Castro. At the time, it was led by former prime minister Indira Gandhi, hailed as the “most powerful leader of the third world” by her fans.

“India would like to use the presidency of G20 in many ways to reflect interests and concerns today of the Global South as we feel they’re being sidelined,” Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said earlier this week.

The presidency began on Thursday under the slogan “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (One Earth, one family), and using messages of peace attributed to Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi.

India has announced an agenda especially designed for developing nations and focusing on climate change, food security, healthcare and infrastructure for the open use of technology.

Indian analyst Sanjaya Baru said that the agenda could work if “India is in a position to bring together the Global South, for example Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa,” and actually emerge as the voice of emerging nations.

If this happens “it will be an interesting development in global politics because in the last two decades, the voice of the Global South has become muted (…) and the West has become obsessed with its own problems,” Baru, the former director of geo-economy and strategy at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, told EFE.

India has also included Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria – countries which have shared interests as part of the Global South – among the special invitees to the G20.

With its economy indicating resilient growth, India is today in an advantageous position as the world grapples with geopolitical tensions, an economic slump, growing energy prices and effects of the pandemic.

According to the International Monetary Fund, India became the fifth largest economy in the world this year, replacing the United Kingdom and only behind the United States, China, Japan and Germany.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a press conference in October that the South Asian nation was “a bright spot on this otherwise darkening horizon,” and said that it was assuming the G20 chair from a “position of strength” and would leave a mark in its tenure.

The G20, a block that unites the world’s 20 major economies, including both developed and emerging nations, is the largest forum for economic cooperation and accounts for nearly 85 percent of the world’s GDP, over 75 percent of global trade and around two-thirds of global population.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that the presidency of such a big and powerful group was a huge opportunity for the country

He underlined the climate crisis as a major concern and said India needed to prove that it had solutions for it.

During its G20 presidency that will continue until September 2023, New Delhi plans to hold nearly 200 official meetings across states and cities, while the chair’s success or failure could also affect the political fortunes of Modi, who has to face general elections in 2024.

Baru said that the Indian prime minister would “try to portray himself as a kind of global leader, like Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.” EFE


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