G20 is a huge opportunity to promote India as key driver of Global … – The Sunday Guardian

G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant says the voice of the Global South has been at the forefront throughout India’s presidency.

New Delhi

G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant, in a conversation with NewsX, spoke about how India is utilising the G20 multilateral forum to find a way out of obstructions put up by China—be it Misson LiFE, women-led development, MSMEs or India’s slogan for G20 presidency, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”. Excerpts:

Q: It’s been a marathon year-long exercise culminating in a huge way. What has been PM Narendra Modi’s vision for India G20 Summit?
A: PM Narendra Modi’s vision was that we should do G20 very differently from how other countries do it. Normally, they do in one city or two cities. He wanted it to be done in all states of India. He wanted it to be done in all Union Territories of India. We have covered every state, every Union Territory, we have had a huge participation. We have had meetings in 60 cities of India. The citizens of India have participated in them. It’s been a people’s presidency. We have involved all universities, colleges, students, everyone in this process.

Q: What resources have gone into making the India G20 Summit a grand affair?
A: Our objective has been that everybody works in partnership. Whether it was all the departments working under the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, all the central government departments, everyone has worked together so that we are able to green up Delhi, to put more flowers, put more lights and artefacts to give a unique experience of Delhi. Let me assure you that not much has been spent. The resources have been spent for greening Delhi. It’s something all citizens need to feel proud of. Citizens need to maintain it through the year.

Q: Is the Prime Minister’s vision of India becoming the Vishwamitra (friend of the world) resonating with the international community?
A: That’s what we have tried to do through the year. We have acted like the voice of the Global South. Before we started our presidency, the Prime Minister interacted with 125 countries, heard their leaders, took their inputs. We have, all along, worked as part of the developing nations and we have taken their voice forward in everything—climate action, sustainable development goals, driving growth, technological transformation, women-led development. The voice of the Global South has been at the forefront throughout our presidency. We strongly believe that more that 75% of the growth, as the IMF has projected this year, is coming from the emerging markets. In the future too, two-third of the world’s growth is going to come from the developing world and emerging markets. Therefore, the global financial architecture needs to shift towards them. The multilateral financial institutions need to provide them more resources. They need to move forward because the demographics in these countries is very young compared to the ageing population in the West. We talk about the voice of the Global South; it’s with the intention that there should be greater human centric development as the Prime Minister has said. His focus has been on human centric growth.

Q: How soon can the Prime Minister’s proposal to make the African Union nations permanent members of G20 be accomplished?
A: One of the key proposals of the PM has been that the African Union must become a permanent member of G20. The PM wrote to all the leaders. There has been a very favourable response from all of them. This will be discussed by their leaders and a final call will be taken during the leaders’ summit. But I can say that there has been a very, very positive response to the PM’s proposal. This will make G20 far more inclusive because then will be able to cover 55 more countries of Africa and more than that, six of the 12 fastest growing countries across the world today are African countries. So, we need to assist and support them for greater growth.

Q: Which are the key bilateral meetings that will take place on the sidelines of the G20 Summit?
A: When the leaders come the PM meets everyone. But the focus will remain on the G20 Summit. There will be different sessions. One session will be on One Earth, one will be on One Family, one will be on One Future. There are a wide range of priority issues that the leaders would like to talk about. But of course, the leaders would also be meeting Prime Minister separately.

Q: What are the key points that India wants to highlight as its achievements during its G20 presidency?
A: First and foremost, there is an India narrative throughout our presidency. We have achieved a lot in a range of areas. We brought digital public infrastructure centre stage. We have focused on millets through the Maharishi programme. We have focused on strong sustainable development and growth, which is the key purpose of G20. We have focused on SDGs because only 12% of the goals midway through 2030 have been achieved. Instead of progressing, we have regressed. It’s important to focus on education, health, nutrition. We have focused very strongly on technological transformation and digital public infrastructure. We have focused on transformation of the multilateral financial institutions. We have focused on climate action, climate finance, what can be done to enhance clean energy and what more can be done to ensure more flow of resources from the developed part of the world. We have focused on women-led development, women empowerment and gender equality. All these are key aspects of our presidency.

Q: Is there a likelihood of the Ukraine-Russia war once again overshadowing the G20 Summit?
A: Throughout the year, we have focused on developmental issues. That’s been our ambition. We have not created the war. For the developing South, the issues of development, growth, progress and inclusiveness are far more important than the war. None of the Global South nations are involved in the war. But the war is having an impact on food, fuel, fertilizers. So, we will remain focused on all the developmental issues. After we have sorted them out, we will discuss the geo-political issues as well. We are confident that we will be able to arrive at some kind of a consensus.

Q: Will the absence of Russian President Valdimir Putin from the G20 Summit hamper it in anyway?
A: Not at all. President Putin will be represented by his foreign minister, like he was in Bali. The Russian government has been very actively participating in G20. Their Sherpa participates with all vigour and energy.

Q: There has been yet another attempt made by China to rile up India right ahead of G20 Summit by releasing maps staking claim on India’s territories of Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin. Why does China resort to such tactics?
A: Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin are parts of India. Citizens of India live there. If somebody draws up a map, it does not matter to us. We strongly protest against it, these are wrong acts. But we don’t want G20 to be impacted by it. China is a multilateral player. There are bilateral issues and then there are multilateral issues. G20 is a multilateral forum. On a multilateral forum, China discusses all developmental and growth-related issues. When it objects, we discuss the matters and we are able to find ways, solutions and that’s what we will continue to do on a multilateral forum.

Q: Is President Xi Jinping’s absence at the G20 Summit in anyway related to the border friction between India and China?
A: Chinese premier Li Qiang will come. If Xi Jinping is not coming, somebody will represent him. The Chinese government gets represented. It may not be by Xi Jinping, but his premier will definitely be there, who is the counterpart of every other leader.

Q: Does internal politics surrounding G20 perturb you?
A: I don’t want to get into the politics of G20. My job is to drive G20’s developmental growth and financial inclusion. It is an economic body, why should I get into the politics? I’m very focused on what G20 needs to achieve, and remain fixated on what I have to achieve at G20. I don’t want to get caught up in local politics. That’s not my job.

Q: It’s been a gruelling year for you as the G20 Sherpa. How has the experience been for you?
A: It has been a very exciting adventure, it’s been a tough one. It’s been tough because we had to work with the states, districts, all the stakeholders and carry everybody along. And then negotiate with 43 different countries and associations and international organisations, bring them around because G20 is about building a consensus. Everybody has a veto power, so you have to build consensus around that. That was important. It’s been a tough job, but interesting. There have been huge opportunities to brand India, to promote India, to market India, to put India as a major driver of Global South, as a very major driver of development, to drive global agenda by India on a global scale is an enormous opportunity. We have done it all very successfully throughout the year.

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