Modi bags a Diplomatic Win at G20


(Anita Saluja)

Scripting history on the global stage, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has scored a sensational diplomatic victory by negotiating a unanimous Declaration at the G20 Summit. Modi made the big bang announcement of the adoption of the New Delhi Leaders Declaration at the G20 Summit under the Indian Presidency. This achievement signals the coming of age of India as a major economic power, emerging as the fifth largest economy of the world, besides demonstrating the Indian diplomatic skills to strike the middle-path between the East and the West and the North and the South divides. What is more, the Delhi Declaration unveils a new approach to human-centric development, in the post-Covid era, for the establishment of the New International Order.

In fact, before the Special Session of Parliament, called by the Government, Modi would have been in a tight spot in the absence of any outcome in the G20. Burning the midnight oil for the last one year, Modi and his Cabinet colleagues, including the Sherpa, have been working on the Declaration Draft, alongwith the Member-States to bring about the requisite Declaration. Even though the Delhi Declaration is a watered-down statement, it is apparent that it is targeting both Russia and Ukraine. It says, “All States must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity or sovereignty or political independence of any State.” If there would have been no statement, it would have been the failure of G20 , which could then have been replaced by G7 and BRICS. By making the member-countries agree to the Declaration, Modi has not only kept the G20 alive but also his image across the world and within his own country, much before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections next Year.

What is really significant is that India succeeded in bridging the gap between the West, on the one hand, and Russia and China, on the other hand. Another is bridging the gap between the North and the South. Besides, on issues like management of food, fuel, and fertilizer, or dealing with terrorism and cybersecurity, apart from ensuring health and energy, India signalled moving towards concrete solutions to tackle these challenges.

In a major and significant move, seen as a counter to China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative, the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), aimed at strengthening connectivity between India, Middle East and Europe, was announced on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. Leaders of the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Mauritius, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, as also the World Bank, participated in the event. The IMEC comprises an Eastern Corridor, connecting India to the Gulf region and a Northern Corridor, connecting the Gulf region to Europe. It will include a railway and ship-rail transit network and road transport routes.

Similarly, Prime Minister Modi, along with the leaders of Singapore, Bangladesh, Italy, USA, Brazil, Argentina, Mauritius and UAE, launched the Global Biofuel Alliance, on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. The Global Biofuel Alliance (GBA) is an initiative by India as the G20 Chair.

One of the big takeaways is the inclusion of the African Union in G20 as a Permanent Member and that, too, under Indian Presidency. This was at the initiative of Prime Minister Modi. The 55-nation African Union represents the African Continent and enjoys the status of European Union. The move lends political and diplomatic clout to India in Africa, where China is making forays to gain foothold on the African Continent. In 2015, Modi changed the format of the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, by inviting all the 55 nations of Africa for the Summit.

Right at the start of his tenure in office, Prime Minister Modi made a pitch at the G20 Summit in Brisbane in 2014 for crackdown on corruption and black money. Modi had favoured global cooperation to eliminate safe-havens for economic offenders and to track down and unconditionally extradite money launderers and to break down the web of complex international regulations and excessive banking secrecy that hide the corrupt and their deeds.

Recommitting himself to zero tolerance on corruption, Prime Minister Modi had the agenda on fighting graft included in the Delhi Declaration of the G20. It calls for endorsing the three G20 High-Level Principles on strengthening law-enforcement-related International Cooperation and Information Sharing for Combating Corruption; Strengthening Asset Recovery Mechanisms for Combating Corruption; Promoting Integrity and Effectiveness of Public Bodies and Authorities responsible for Preventing and Combating Corruption; Reaffirm support to enhance global efforts to seize, confiscate and return criminal proceeds to victims and states, in line with international obligations and domestic legal frameworks, including through support to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF); and Reaffirm commitment to demonstrate and continue concrete efforts and share information on actions towards criminalizing foreign bribery and enforcing foreign bribery legislation, in line with Article 16 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).

Signalling new solutions to traditional problems, the Delhi Declaration brings in Digital Public Infrastructure. It recognizes that safe, secure, trusted, accountable and inclusive digital public infrastructure, respectful of human rights, personal data, privacy and intellectual property rights can foster resilience.

Personal touch of Prime Minister Modi was very much in evidence, in making the G20 Summit a grand success. From personally receiving each of the guests at the venue of G20 Summit in Bharat Mandapam, with hugs and handshakes and even taking time off to explain to US President Joe Biden the significance of the Konark Wheel in the backdrop, to the musical ensemble, which played in the background at the dinner hosted by President Droupadi Murmu, all bore the imprint of Modi. Cleaning up Delhi and lighting up monuments across the Capital were among the initiatives to make the G20 Summit memorable.

Another important initiative of Prime Minister Modi was to ensure that it does not remain merely a gathering of leaders, but that the vast masses of people in the country are linked to the global event. As many as 220 meetings, spread over 60 cities across the country, hosting G20-related meetings, were organized, showcasing the rich cultural diversity of India. It has since become a People’s G20, with millions of Indians engaging with it.

On his arrival in the Capital for the G-20 Summit, US President Joe Biden drove down straight to Prime Minister Modi’s official residence for a bilateral meeting. Though earlier too, leaders of both the Countries have shared special bonding but never has a US President driven down to the residence of the Indian Prime Minister. India’s First Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had a rapport with at least three US Presidents, Harry S Truman, Dwight D Eisenhower and John F Kennedy. US President Ronald Reagan had respect and affection for Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

Keeping up the tradition, Prime Minister Modi struck personal rapport with each of the three US Presidents he dealt with, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden. The US warmth and support helped India in building up the consensus at the G20 Summit.

On the sidelines of the G20 Summit, Prime Minister Modi held a number of bilateral meetings with all the key leaders, like US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, among others.

All in all, the spectacular achievements at the G20 Summit go on to prove that Prime Minister Modi did manage to make his mark on the global stage. The INDIA bloc will indeed have a tough time to pin him down on the G-20 Summit during the upcoming special session of Parliament.

(The writer is Delhi-based senior journalist and political commentator. Views are personal.)


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