11th September 2023, Mumbai: The recently concluded G20 Summit, hosted by India, has far-reaching implications for both the country and the world at large. This summit, along with its declaration and the various meetings that took place on the sidelines, offered insights into India’s foreign policy priorities, its role on the global stage, and its efforts to revitalize multilateralism, all at a time when the international system faces significant challenges.
India’s Foreign Policy Priorities on Display
India’s foreign policy goals and strategies were prominently on display during the G20 Summit. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, in his book “The India Way,” outlined India’s objectives: engage America, manage China, cultivate Europe, reassure Russia, bring Japan into play, draw in neighboring countries, extend the neighborhood, and expand traditional support networks. The summit demonstrated India’s success in addressing these priorities.
1. ‘Engaging America:’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s earlier state visit to the United States set the stage for a robust partnership with the U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to India further deepened trust and collaboration. India and the U.S. cooperated on global, regional, and bilateral levels during the summit, marking a strong partnership.
2. ‘Reassuring Russia:’ The summit showcased the complexities of India’s relationship with Russia. Publicly, it projected strong bonds of friendship with Moscow, providing Russia with international recognition at a time when it faced criticism for its actions in Ukraine.
3. ‘Bringing Neighbors In:’ India actively engaged its neighbors during the G20 Summit. For example, Bangladesh was invited as a guest country, providing it with a unique networking opportunity with global leaders.
4. ‘Expanding Constituencies of Support:’ India successfully revitalized the Global South’s presence and influence at the summit. This approach is distinct from past third-worldism rhetoric, as India seeks to bridge the gap between the global North and South.
The Global South Returns
One of the most significant outcomes of the summit was the return of the Global South. India played a pivotal role in this, using its unique position to bring together diverse nations from Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Several key aspects highlighted India’s commitment to the Global South:
1. ‘African Union (AU) Inclusion:’ The inclusion of the African Union (AU) as a member of the G20 was a historic moment. This move rectified the stark underrepresentation of an entire continent in global forums and received support from the Western bloc.
2. ‘Global South Concerns:’ The G20 declaration addressed pressing issues of the Global South, including food security, climate change, and sustainable development goals. It emphasized common but differentiated responsibilities and called for adequate financing to meet emission targets.
3. ‘Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) Reform:’ India championed the cause of the Global South in the context of MDB reform. It advocated for balancing the World Bank’s expanded climate crisis mandate with the goal of ending extreme poverty and sought innovative financing approaches for MDBs.
India at the High Table, Shaping Conversations
India’s role at the summit showcased its ascent to the high table of global diplomacy. It actively contributed to addressing the concerns of the Global South, not in opposition to the West but in collaboration with Western nations. India’s foreign policy approach was inclusive, seeking to amplify the voices of marginalized nations.
The G20 Summit marked a significant milestone in India’s foreign policy endeavors. From bilateral engagements with key players like the U.S. and Russia to its inclusive approach towards the Global South, India demonstrated its commitment to shaping global conversations and addressing pressing global challenges. While this summit was a success, the world of geopolitics is ever-evolving, and India will continue to navigate new challenges in the global order with confidence and strategic agility. The experience gained during this summit will undoubtedly inform India’s future foreign policy decisions
By Yashika Desai