India’s G20 Presidency: Opportunities and Challenges

  Co-authored By Dr Pavan Kumar and Aarushi

India’s G20 Presidency began on December 1, 2022. And this presidency also brings responsibilities and challenges. India’s turn came at an appropriate time when the world is going through war, an energy crisis, recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic and climate urgencies. India’s actions during such time, are crucial for its ‘responsible power status’.

The G20 was set up after the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-1998 and comprises both developed and developing countries comprising  19 countries and the European Union with the aim of achieving international cooperation on economic and financial issues, thus, forming a group of 20. Through matters of global concern, such as climate change, food security, and gender issues the group aims for policy coordination to achieve economic growth and modernize current financial institutions, to avert the risk of another financial crisis in the near future.

 In today’s world, the Indian Ocean constitutes 84% world economy and 79% of world trade, hence the G20 Presidency would be looked upon with many expectations. It has a more significant role to play in the context of the current geopolitical scenario. India can play the role of a ‘peacemaker’ on behalf of the Global South. India due to its policy has always maintained a balanced and objective view, in this multipolar world. The G20 Presidency thus allows India to assert itself in the world and take lead as a responsible power.

Secondly, this position calls for India to represent the interest of the developing world, especially the economies in its regional bloc. The Russia-Ukraine war affected the developing economies and made them more vulnerable. The restrictions on imports of food and energy from Russia created inflation, which further destabilized many developing countries, hence India can demand depoliticisation in its favour by leveraging its capabilities and emerging as an essential partner in the global supply chain. Moreover, the year 2023 has been declared the International Year of Millet by the UN General Assembly, and India, the largest millet producer, can exploit this opportunity to establish its foothold as a player in the global food supply chain.

As climate change occupies the mind of the members, the demand for technology transfer and climate finance from the Global North to the Global South aids India to reduce its carbon emissions without affecting its economic profits, therefore meeting its goal of attaining earlier net zero by 2070.

Although India has been a part of many multilateral engagements, many claims, however, that India has never actually turned outward in terms of global trade, it still follows an inward-looking trade policy and is hardly able to fully exploit its multilateral engagements. Thus, this moment presents an opportunity for India to turn outward and leverage the full potential of its multilateral and regional engagements.

Lastly, India is a global player in the IT sector.  Hence, as the world heads toward framing Digital Trade rules, India, as the President of G20 grouping, can play an essential role in this. With the right approach, it can align the rules according to its own needs and reduce the dictation of these rules by powerful and exploitative economies.

These opportunities, however, will come with their own sets of challenges. One of the significant challenges would be to contain China’s power projection in the world. The Chinese and Russian axis in the geopolitical scenario has made the matter complex. India is also facing China’s assertiveness on its borders.  Hence managing Chinese influence and power would be the most difficult task for India.

Moreover, the diverse positions of the G20 members and their varied interests would also influence discussions and decision-making.

India has to be consistent and dedicated in its policy engagement. It should try to make use of the leadership role that it is in. India has a significant role to play, primarily when it represents the interest of the developing world in front of a powerful group. On issues of climate change, sustainable development and energy security, India is playing a great role and it should continue doing that. It should try to ensure equal footing and protection when it comes to making rules on digital trade.

As India begins its Presidency of the G20 with the theme “One Earth, One Family, One Future” it should have a deeper policy engagement, especially with the countries that look up to it for its support and guidance.

India should take the G20 presidency with great earnestness and initiate discussions, that would lead the world towards positive growth.


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