The G20 group of nations is an economic and political alliance of 19 leading economies of the world today and includes both developing and developed countries and the European Union together they make up 80% of the global GDP, 75% of global trade and 60% of the global population. Argentina, India, Canada, Australia, Germany, Russia, South Korea, South Africa, Indonesia, China, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, France, Saudi Arabia, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States are the G20’s member countries. India has held the presidency of G20 from December 2022 and will hold this position until November 2023. Pakistan’s GDP in 2023 has been ranked as 25th in the world, and because of the continuous political instability, has not been able to get membership of the G20. India made a bold political move when it announced to host the G20 Summit in the Indian administered Kashmir, a move that was totally rejected by Pakistan. From Pakistan’s perspective, it was a great cause for concern because India decided to hold the conference in a disputed territory. Had India succeeded in holding the conference at the venue of their choice it would have been the first international event to be held in the disputed territory since India’s unilateral abrogation of the regions special status on 5 August 2019.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin announced in Beijing that China will not attend the conference if the meeting is held in the disputed territories and thus vindicated Pakistan’s stance on the issue. Other countries who supported Pakistan are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Oman. India countered the objection by saying it is free to hold meetings on its own territory. It said peace and tranquillity on its border is essential for normal ties with China. After objections from many member countries of the G20, better sense prevailed, and the Indian PM Narendra Modi finally announced “India is delighted to host the 18th G20 Summit on 09-10 September 2023 at New Delhi’s iconic Bharat Mandapam. This is the first ever G20 Summit being hosted by India and I look forward to productive discussions with world leaders. It is my firm belief that the New Delhi G20 Summit will chart a new path in the human centric and inclusive development.”
In a recent gathering of Indian political scientists and intellectuals, the Indian foreign minister opined: “What applies to the world also applies to Asia. A multipolar world must have its foundations in a multipolar Asia.” He also claimed that: “The prospects for global order depend on a more equitable and democratic distribution of power and resources. The world must be more multipolar. Such a multipolar world must necessarily have a multipolar Asia as its centre. This can happen only if we, as Asian countries, consolidate our independence and expand our freedom of choice.”
In line with its political agenda, India has tried to use this Summit Conference to propagate its soft stance and to pose as the leader of the Asian South or the Global South. The summit was also utilised for gaining domestic political objectives and benefits. It was an attempt to divert attention from geopolitical issues and to focus on topics such as growth, development, economic issues, corruption, food security and poverty. Major differences emerged during the summit on the issue of the Ukraine war. In fact, the question of Ukraine came to overshadow other issues. After the widely publicised G20 Finance Ministers Meeting and even the Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bengaluru and New Delhi, India failed to reach a joint communique because of the differences over the Ukraine crisis between the US led Western countries and Russia.
India happens to be at the centre of the American effort to contain China, it also maintains a significant relationship with Russia for defence procurement and the Russian Oil supply In the aftermath of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, India’s purchases of Russian crude oil increased significantly. India’s oil imports from Russia rose from 2% in February 2022 to 23% in November 2022.
The Theme for the G20 Summit 2023 was “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam meaning One Earth, One Family One Future.” The theme has been taken from ancient Sanskrit scriptures and highlights the intrinsic value of all life forms, from humans and animals to plants and microorganisms. It underscores their connectedness on planet earth and in the broader cosmos. Additionally, the theme sheds light on Lifestyle for Environment(‘LIFE’), emphasising environmentally sustainable and responsible choices, both at the individual and national levels. This approach aims to spark global transformations towards a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future.
Presidency of the G20 is a very prestigious position and involves many responsibilities. The presiding country is responsible for setting the G20 agenda: it hosts different meetings including the G20 summit meeting of the leaders of the member countries, and provides logistical support. The presidency rotates among the five groups of member countries. Each country within a group becomes eligible for presidency during its group’s turn, with negotiations among eligible countries determining the group’s presidency. In the absence of a permanent secretariat, the host country mobilizes human and material resources to facilitate the forum's functioning throughout the year. Furthermore, the G20 president extends invitations to guest countries and organizations to participate in G20 processes.
It should be noted that in the recent past, India has tried to create the illusion that everything is normal in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir by organising tourists and investment conferences. By its attempt to host the G20 meeting in Kashmir, India tried to take a giant leap forward on Kashmir. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all reported on India state atrocities against the people of Indian-administered Kashmir.
For all the Modi government’s efforts to normalise the post-2019 situation in Kashmir, human rights organisations remind us that Indian attempts to alter the demography of the occupied region are a blatant violation of international law, UN Security Council resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention.