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India’s G-20 Presidency: A Shift in its Foreign Policy

By Nakul Rai Khurana


India’s incumbency in the G-20 presidency reflects its new profound focus on issues of economic and social importance. Such issues were previously covered within an umbrella foreign policy, with now the mantle set for India to lead the global summit, it marks a transformation of Indian diplomacy and foreign policy.

The G-20 is the world’s “premier forum for international economic cooperation”, and serves as an essential platform for decision-making and dialogue. Nothing can be considered off the agenda of a group that accounts for roughly 80% of global GDP, 75% of global trade, two-thirds of the global population, and 60% of the global land area. With the ongoing developments, India’s multilateral responsibilities are bound to skyrocket. India has reached out to over 120 countries in the Global South that are not represented at the G-20 negotiating table but have a critical stake in the common goal of sustainable global growth. For India, a G-77 and NAM member, expressing solidarity with developing countries is nothing new. However, actively seeking the perspectives of those without a voice in G-20 fora, demonstrates the willingness of the Indian governance to abridge the gap between the developed and developing worlds in terms of economic and social endeavours.  

The platform for governance and deliberation on a global level like the United Nations may not harbour the interests of common citizens to issues of global importance. However, the breadth of engagement and public campaigning involved will aid in educating the layman in making informed opinions about India’s foreign policy concerns. It bodes well for a variety of Indian decision-makers to have a deeper understanding of the thought processes and practices of other significant countries as well.

According to the Reserve Bank of India’s study on the status of the Indian economy, “2023 may possibly be the opening of a window through which India’s moment on the international stage is approaching.” India will remain the fifth largest economy, with a US $3.7 trillion GDP, retaining its lead over the UK in 2023. According to the International Monetary Fund, this would catapult India into fourth position in 2025 and third place in 2027 as a US$5.4 trillion economy. Furthermore, according to the RBI, India’s 1.4 billion population will be the world’s biggest in April 2023. Indians will account for one-sixth of the rise in the world’s working-age population (15-64) between 2023 and 2050. As per the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) 2013 Human Development Report, India, Brazil, and South Africa were three of forty nations that demonstrated excellent standards of economic growth and development. According to the analysis, they have the capacity to dethrone the world’s conventional financial giants. An optimistic inference would indicate India’s chance to seize the demographic dividend and signify its emergence as an economic powerhouse.

It also follows after the conclusion of India’s successful term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in December 2022. It is a suitable time for the country to shift from a limited focus on international peace and security to a more holistic approach to national security. Ignoring the slew of new and emerging challenges critical to our long-term growth that have yet to find a significant worldwide forum for discussion is not an option. Policies concerning sustainable trade, environment and industry significantly impact the prosperity of a healthy economy. An isolated approach towards security and peace is antiquated in a multifold world which is governed through globalisation. Economic, commercial, financial, and environmental jurisdictions are inextricably linked to national security issues. 

Extensive efforts are also being pursued to meet the evolutionary landscapes of the global order. Highlighting the country’s untapped potential in research and innovation, the ongoing panel discussions taking place across educational institutions in Punjab demonstrated farmer-centric solutions to create a better ecosystem for agriculture, which serves as the backbone for the economy of the nation. Syngenta, an agrochemical company, demonstrated its biodiversity sensor project in collaboration with IIT Ropar. The firm is demonstrating the use of drones to spray crop protection solutions and how it empowers farmers by helping them save money, labour costs, and time, thus increasing their revenue. Managing Director of Syngenta India, Susheel Kumar, said,”Our tech-led collaborations with experts and creation of a farmer-centric ecosystem are the key to address challenges faced by farmers to feed a growing population.” 

This is just one example of a plethora of issues being deliberated and efficiently tackled through sustainable problem-solving by experts and collaborators from all over the world, with India at its centre stage. More responsibility comes with the pursuit of a more meaningful function. India has efficiently pursued its national interests as a middle power, masterfully navigating the contemporary world order’s unstable geopolitics. The task is to influence the emerging new order in a meaningful way. It is never simple to reconcile national interests with the broader global good. Diplomacy is always a balancing exercise of ‘give and take,’ and more difficult concessions lay ahead. The G-20 with its challenges also provides an opportunity to transition from a mere participatory role in balancing foreign relations to a more dominant role, especially on a global platform thus carving a significant responsibility for itself in the landscape of world powers. India is set to host the 18th G20 Heads of State and Government Summit on 9th-10th September 2023 in New Delhi.

About the Author

Nakul Rai Khurana is a second year law student at Jindal Global Law school pursuing his bachelors in arts and law. He is an avid writer and does work in legal journalism. His interests lie in legal and social developments around the world.

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