By Vivekananda Pattanayak in Bhubaneswar, November 17, 2023: After all the euphoria of G-20 Summit projected by the media, a serious, sincere, and mature introspection and review are needed of India’s status in the global firmament. Absence of Putin and Xi, two major leaders of the world from the Summit demonstrated how unimportant this Group is considered by these two large military and economic powers perhaps sending a message that other fora are more relevant like BRICS and SCO where the Western powers led by US are not members.

Since evolution of G-6, G-7, and G-8 (now moribund after the Russian occupation of Crimea) and subsequent creation of G-20, this Grouping is effective only when there is cooperation and understanding between the Western power bloc and other large economic on one hand and political hegemons like Russia, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa, all now part of BRICS on the other.

This was evident during the financial crisis of 2008 when G-17 (now called G-20 or G-21) played a major role in resolving the global financial turmoil where Dr Manmohan Singh’s role was very well recognized among the global leaders more so as an economist of world repute. One should also appreciate the fact that the worst financial crisis of the twenty-first century affected the Western economies more than the rest of the emerging markets.

In fact, China and India, now prominent players of BRICS were not affected at all. Reality is that the West needed the emerging economies more to handle their crisis rather than otherwise round.

Lack of unity in G-20 was clearly exhibited when much publicized Economic Corridor did not become a part of the Summit Declaration. Ideally Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), promoted by China and the Northern Corridor linking Iran connecting Russia should have come under the umbrella of the Summit along with the newly conceived Economic Corridor to make it a global effort of joining Asia with Europe including the Middle East, Africa and Russia which geographically represents the largest territory in the world and with India, China and Indonesia representing the largest population on the earth, thus making it truly global .

Events following the Summit also showed how divisive this over-publicized congregation was when Canada and India bothalso members of Commonwealth of Nations, apart from being an integral part of G-20 soon after the Summit got into public acrimony exposing how the grouping of Five Eyes, an Anglo-Saxon brotherhood can bring disruption into the so-called strategic entente of QUAD.

How fractious the Group-20 became is even more evident when the Palestine-Israel conflict surfaced soon after the New Delhi Summit. However barbarous, desperate, and heinous the Hamas attack on the Israeli civilian population on the Jewish holiday might have been, the massive relentless bombardment of Gaza strip totally callous about the innocent people including children, women, sick, elderly defy the civilized conduct of any nation. What was amazing is the proposed resolution in the UN for a humanitarian pause on incessant bombing was opposed by the pro-Israel Group of G-20 and India’s abstention was not in line with the solidarity of the Global South whose unity had been eloquently espoused during the Summit.

An opportunity to make G-20 a multilateral body based on a treaty under the Vienna Convention of Laws of Treaties with a constitution having an organic nexus with UN just as the Specialized agencies was missed. It could have given a high status to G-20 like the Security Council with all the aspirants for permanent membership on it like India, Germany, Japan, Brazil, and South Africa along with China, France, Russia, UK, and USA, all the veto wielding permanent members with equal status.

In the background of all these developments, Qatar has put India on a very awkward position by imposing death sentences on the Indians of high rank on the charge of espionage on behalf of Israel. At the same time the newly elected Government of Maldives has asked India to withdraw security personnel deployed there.

Although assertions are being made that India is a global leader being mother of democracy and having surged ahead of the United Kingdom in economic terms, our performance must match with these declarations, affirmation, and propagations. Falling export, visible unemployment more particularly among the educated youth, rising public debts, unsettling poverty level, clear inequality and other social and economic indicators do not substantiate such claims to be considered as a global front ranking player. Pollution level of the Capital city of the country despite being under the watchful eyes of both the Central government and the local government has received adverse international attention.

Ultimately much depends on economic strength based on which military might would come. They in the long run give status of a global leader not repeated assertions in the speeches and publications in the media which may give political mileage in domestic politics.

That India is an emerged power has been well recognized since long as the President Obama stated in his maiden visit to India during the prime-ministership of Dr Manmohan Singh. India had already acquired the status as the third largest economy in terms of Purchasing Power Parity since March 2014.

The country’s achievements in creation of institutions like universities, banks, stockmarkets, civil service, technical bodies like ISRO (whose achievements have been spectacular), public sector and private sector in service and manufacturing domain, print and electronic media, democratic bodies like legislatures and constitutional bodies and judiciary are a long list of achievements over last seventy-five years contributed by hard and honest endeavor of eminent people, are globally well acknowledged.

At the same time there is an expression of anxiety about dilution of integrity and robustness of these bodies in the recent times along with elements of intolerance towards diversity raising their heads causing uneasiness in terms of unity of nation. Massive pendency of cases in the courts, regular spectacles of pandemonium in representative legislative bodies and legislations being passed without debates attract adverse reaction not only in the domestic platform but also in the international fora.These affect implementation of the much-publicized Make in India programme.

Flow of finance as Financial Institutional Investment (FII), although very important driving force of economy is not a good barometer of judging the robustness of the economy as they are related to strength of dollar and highly sensitive torate fluctuations determined by external bodies. Assembly of imported products and export of cellular phones may earn foreign exchange but that cannot make the country a manufacturing hub.

Political leadership irrespective of their creed must wake up to the hard realities in the quest to make India a truly leader in the world.

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