G20: India’s pride, neighbour’s envy

The stunning success of the 18th G20 Summit under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to have left an indelible mark on the world stage. India has used the Presidency judiciously to prove a point or two as an emerging global leader. The G20 Declaration of New Delhi Leaders is being hailed as both historic and groundbreaking. Notably, it has secured unanimous consensus on all fronts, encompassing developmental and geopolitical matters. The pessimists’ apprehensions over reaching unanimity among members, in the wake of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s last-minute withdrawal and its opposition to the Sanskrit language usage, proved a damp squib. “Not even a single word in the joint statement was opposed”, claimed Sherpa Amitabh Kant. Credit should go to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his team for ensuring unanimity on the 84-page New Delhi Declaration, which explains trust-worthiness of emerging India. The two-day Summit has also set the direction of future negotiations on important economic issues, including climate financing which has for the first time put $5.9 trillion number to the green financing requirements of developing countries and reforms in multilateral banks. During India’s the G20 Presidency from December 1, 2022 to November 30, 2023, over 200 meetings are being held across all Indian States and Union Territories. The two-day Summit resulted in various deals, pacts and other cooperation between global leaders. The principle of “Vasudeva Kutumbakam,” or “the world is one family,” is the most important lesson to be learned from the summit, G20 chief coordinator Harsh Vardhan Shringla said. The other key objectives and achievements of the Summit are: G20 renewed India’s commitment to ensure a level playing field and fair competition by discouraging protectionism and market-distorting practices, to foster a favourable trade and investment environment for all. It aims to achieve sustainably financed universal social protection coverage and consider the portability of social security benefits through bilateral and multilateral agreements.

It will continue to enhance macro policy cooperation and support the progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to New Delhi Leaders Declaration, “we reaffirm that achieving strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth (SSBIG) will require policymakers to stay agile and flexible in their response, as evidenced during the recent banking turbulence in a few advanced economies where expeditious action by relevant authorities helped to maintain financial stability and manage spillovers.” The 18th G20 focuses on resilient and inclusive growth, women’s empowerment and well-being in addition to sustainable development, health and education. At the halfway point to 2030, the SDGs’ global progress is up with only 12 per cent of the targets on track. To create the desired society for our future generations, the G20 will use its convening power and collective will to implement the 2030 Agenda fully and successfully to swiftly advance toward the SDGs, according to the declaration.

The Delhi declaration mentions the role of digital transformation, artificial intelligence and data advances, in harnessing Data for Development (D4D) and welcomes the decision to launch the D4D Capacity Building Initiative and other existing initiatives. The summit commits to enhancing global food security and nutrition for all in line with the G20 Deccan High-Level Principles on Food Security and Nutrition 2023. The 21st century also needs a system of international development financing that is capable of meeting the needs of developing nations, especially the poorest and most vulnerable ones, and that can also accommodate the scope of the challenges they face and the severity of the shocks they experience. Our attempts to generate funding from all sources for a quantum leap from billions to trillions of dollars for development will depend on stronger multilateral development banks (MDBs). According to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, an agreement was reached on a framework for debt relief for Zambia, Ghana and Ethiopia. The framework now covers all aspects of finance for resilient, sustainable cities and MDBs can make use of it. According to Sitharaman, as part of the G20’s progress on international taxation, work has been done on the exchange of information on immovable properties.

The proposals to restructure MDBs to meet the challenges of the 21st century have been approved by all members, according to Sitharaman. G20 members pledge in the declaration to “pursue reforms for better, bigger and more effective MDBs to address global challenges to maximize developmental impact.” The concept of “digital public infrastructure” (DPI), which refers to a collection of shared digital systems that are developed and used by the public and private sectors, is constantly evolving. DPI is based on secure and resilient infrastructure, and it can be constructed using open standards and specifications as well as open-source software, which can enable the delivery of services at a societal level. The finance minister asserted that India has achieved all three of the “foundational” DPIs: real-time fast payment (UPI), digital identity (Aadhaar) and a platform for sharing personal data safely without compromising privacy. The idea “to build and maintain a Global Digital Public Infrastructure Repository (GDPIR), a virtual repository of DPI,” which India willingly shared with G20 members and others, was also praised in the declaration. In a nutshell, one can confidently say the major takeaways of the G20 Summit 2023 are: (a) Strong, Sustainable, Balanced and Inclusive Growth, (b) Accelerating Progress on SDGs, (c) Green Development Pact for A Sustainable Future, and (d) Multilateral Institutions For The 21st Century. The icing on the cake is getting to establish the trade corridor which runs through Asia to Europe to the US, the longest ever, which overshadows the Chinese Belt Road. However, the success has come at a cost of various agencies of the Delhi government and the Centre – including the Delhi Police, Public Works Department, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Delhi Development Authority and National Highway Authority of India. Altogether Rs 4,000 crore spent for the grand summit, if one has to believe Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakshi Lekhi. Still, worth it as it ensured India became the most credible nation and isolated the expansionist China