G-20 summit: A diplomatic win for PM Modi

India forges compromise among divided world powers
New Delhi declaration responds to the world situation as it stands today
RAND Corporation calls it a coup for New Delhi


New Delhi: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi touted his country as well-placed to bridge gaps in the Group of 20 top economies and solve global problems, but many were skeptical ahead of the weekend’s summit given grave divisions within the bloc over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

He was able to dispel those doubts, announcing a unanimous final agreement a day before the G-20 summit ended Sunday that included language on the European war which both Russia and China signed off on.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the group agreed to a “very strong” message. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called it a “success of Indian diplomacy,” adding “many did not think that would be possible beforehand.” And India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, said the declaration “responds to the situation as it stands today.”

The statement had softer wording than last year’s G-20 communique and failed to directly denounce Moscow. Instead, it cited a United Nations charter, saying “all states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state.”

But all countries agreed on the declaration, allowing India to claim diplomatic success.

“This is the first declaration without a single footnote or a chair’s summary,” said Amitabh Kant, India’s top G-20 negotiator.

Some experts saw the agreement as a win for Russia, while others read it as an achievement for the West. But most concurred it was a foreign policy triumph for Modi as he pushes to increase India’s influence on the world stage.

“India’s statement embodies the voice of the emerging Global South” said Derek Grossman, an analyst focused on the Indo-Pacific at the RAND Corporation. “That is a coup for New Delhi, especially within the context of strategic competition against Beijing, helping it to become the leader of this bloc.”

At the summit Modi also announced the group had agreed to add the African Union as a permanent member and made progress on other key issues important to the developing nations of the Global South.

“We are seeing the G-20 finally come into its own as a truly global entity, and emerging from the shadow of the G-7,” said Michael Kugelman, director of the Wilson Center’s South Asia Institute, referring to the Group of Seven major industrial nations.

“It’s emerging as a successful case study of Western and non-Western powers and the Global South working together to pursue shared goals,” he said.

The summit came at a time when Russia and China have been trying to put more emphasis on the more like-minded BRICS group — made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — which agreed at its summit last month to expand with six new members. Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s leader Xi Jinping skipped the G20 summit this year.

Image courtesy of Hindu Business Line

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