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François Gautier


India will host the 18th G20 Heads of State and Government Summit on September 9th &10th 2023, at New Delhi's prestigious Pragati Maidan. What are the goals and expectations?


Hopes are indeed high: after all Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dedicated this entire year of G-20 meetings to Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam “The world is one Family”. This is a very ancient Hindu concept that is universal in its outlook, as its words indicate – “ Let us unite all, let us forget our differences let us rise beyond nationalities and religions, to an harmonious, inclusive humanity ”… India has thus been hosting since 12 months, about 260 working group meetings, on subjects as diverse as climate change, finance, tourism, this in more than 60 Indian cities, from Srinagar, Kashmir, to Pondicherry, all the way down South.  


People might ask : « who are the G20 and what do they actually do”? Well, what is known as the Group of G20, founded in 1999, after a series of international financial crisis, is an exclusive forum for international economic cooperation. It was originally composed of industrialized countries, such as the US, UK, France Canada, China, Japan Germany, Italy,etc,  having the largest economies (the European Union accounts for one country), and included emerging economies such as Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia etc. All these nations which account for 2/3rd of the world population and generate 80% of  Gross World Product (GWP), are meant to play a leading role in shaping and strengthening global governance on all major international economic issues.


But in practice, the G20 started to include non-economic topics, such as climate change and this year, under the pressure of the United States, as well as the EU, it is expected to look into more international support to Ukraine in its war with Russia.  India has been holding after Indonesia, the Presidency of the G20 from 1 December 2022 to 30 November 2023. Brazil will be the next country to host it, followed by South Africa.

Goals of the 18th G20 meet

What are the goals of the G2O hosted by India? Previously, the Big 20 had high ambitions, thanks to a generous $ 10 trillion rescue package to fight economic and health crises around the word – and it was indeed used extensively during the COVID-19 pandemic. The richest nations also have a Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) that was spent to help some 50 developing countries, which had debt burdens they could not honour anymore. Among other tasks, it also concentrated on increasing women's strength in the labor market, through its International Labor Organization, which is conducting an ongoingstudy on Women at work in G20 Countries.

Of course, the G20’s focus under India’s leadership will remain economic: prior to the actual heads of state conclave on 9th & 10th September, Prime Minister Modi notably addressed on February 2023 an online reunion of G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to assess the present situation. The G20 leaders of this 2023 conclave will therefore concentrate on several financial topics, which include Boosting Employment, not only in industrial nations, which have a varying degree of unemployment (7,2% in France, which is quite high), but also in developing countries. It will address too: Inclusive, Equitable and Sustainable Growth, high words, which are not always reflected in reality; and finally, look into how to finance & manage climate mapping, as well as global food security,and green hydrogen, which are summed up in the acronym LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment)…

The absence of Putin


Unfortunately, hiccups, wars, disharmonies have arisen over the preceding months to the summit. First, the Chinese objected to the use of Sanskrit, which is a non-UN language, as the motto of the G20. Then, in spite of a warm invitation from PM Modi, President XI Jiping, has chosen not to attend the Delhi meet, thereby throwing a cold damper on the whole event. Secondly, Joe Biden the President of the United States who will be very much attending, fortunately, is expected, along with Emmanuel Macron, Rishi Sunak and many others, to put pressure on India to openly condemn Russia in its war on Ukraine. Up to now, Mr Modi has managed to keep a neutral stance, given India’s long engagement, both military and economic, first with the Soviet Union and now Russia, but lately, the PM seems to be wavering. Thirdly, the absence of  President Putin of Russia will be sorely felt, in spite of denials from all sides. Whatever said and done, Russia is very much part not only of the G20, but of the western block, both from an ethnic, as well as cultural and social point of view. The UN and other human right organizations bending backwards to the United States’ pressure of making a war criminal of Mr Putin, a democratically elected leader, whatever else is said, does not bode well for the future.

The VVIP Culture survives in India


A word here about the VVIP restrictions in Delhi, much before the G20 actually kicks in. Many have objected to Delhi being completely shut down for many days: 200 domestic flights will be either diverted or cancelled, all of Delhi's government and private offices, educational institutions, banks, and commercial establishments are closed for three days. Shops and retailers have asked what will the spouses accompanying the leaders do and what souvenirs and handicrafts they will be able to take back with them !  Traffic will be greatly disturbed in many areas, in fact Delhiites have been asked to stay home. Prime Minister Modi did apologize in advance for the inconvenience when he returned from the BRICS summit, but observers have pointed out that

even in high security places like Washington or Paris, inhabitants are never put to so much inconvenience because of security and that care is taken to avoid flights and traffic disturbances.


In conclusion,  results will be token and end of meeting statements bland, not giving much, if at all, there is sufficient agreements to come with a joint statement, the West is most likely push for a mention of Russia's actions in Ukraine, China will surely object to some of the points and India may have a tough time bringing out a consensus document


Nevertheless, many have praised Shri Narendra Modi for putting India on the world map, thanks to his many initiatives and embracing Indian’s ancient wisdom to achieve world unity, in spite of strife and disagreements. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam to all !

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