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India to champion developing countries at G20 summit in Delhi

Dear Editor,
India is hosting the G20 summit this weekend in Delhi. It will be the largest gathering since the body was founded in Washington DC in 2008. Host Prime Minister Narendra Modi is using the summit to showcase India and his own global leadership, and to champion funding and technology for developing countries (Global South) like Guyana.
Although it is the world’s fifth largest economy, with the largest middle class of over 200 million, India is a developing country. It is the only country in G20 that champions the agenda of the South.
The G20 is a concept proposed by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin (2003-05); it came into being after he demitted office. It started out as an inter-Government forum of Finance Ministers of nineteen of the largest economies and the EU rep in 1999, to address issues related to the global economy. In 2008, it was transformed into a leadership summit.
It is a grouping of the 20 largest economies, accounting for 85% of the world’s GDP, 60% of its population, and 75% of its trade. The grouping has no secretariat, and decisions are not made by voting, as in the UN. The grouping includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkiye, the UK, the US, and the head of EU.
The leaders of the 20 countries (and EU) meet annually for two days in a different country, to discuss global economic and monetary issues and to arrive at joint policies to which they commit. At the end of each summit, they issued a joint declaration, or communique. Members voluntarily bind themselves to it.
Last year, Bali was host; the previous year, Japan was host, and the year before that, Rome was host. Because of the Ukraine War, the members could not agree on a joint declaration at Bali. It is unlikely a declaration will be issued this year in Delhi. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who blanked last year’s declaration, and China’s Xi Jinping are shunning the Delhi summit, making a joint declaration unlikely. Their absence has taken some shine off the summit, as global leaders had hoped to have had bilateral meetings with both on the sidelines.
Money and economic issues, climate change, sustainable energy, and matters impacting the Global South are expected to be discussed vigorously. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Japan PM Fumio Kishida, UK PM Rishi Sunak, Canada PM Justin Trudeau, among others, will be descending on Delhi for the G20 Leaders’ Summit.
Besides the regular members, the G20 president has the discretion to invite six guest countries to attend the leaders’ summit. Countries benefit from being inside the high-level discussions. Invitations are sought after.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expanded the guest list to nine, plus heads of global institutions. Nigeria, Egypt, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Mauritius, Oman, Spain, UAE, and Singapore have been invited as guests. In addition, invitations have been sent to World Bank President Ajay Banga, International Solar Alliance Director General Ajay Mathur, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure Director General Amit Prothi, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, International Labour Organisation Director General Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, Chair of the Financial Stability Board Klaas Knot, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kritalina Georgieva, Asian Development Bank President Masatsugu Asakawa, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Secretary General Mathias Cormann, World Trade Organization Director General Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, and World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The summit will bolster India’s position as a global leader on economic matters, as well as burnish Modi’s diplomatic credentials as an international statesman. Modi was also invited to recent annual G7 summits, where seven of the West’s largest economies plus the EU were present, as the West wooed India into its alliance, and there he advocated developmental assistance for Global South.
India has been growing an average of some 7% annually over the last three decades, becoming the world’s fifth largest economy and projected to become the fourth in two years. India has used the G20 activities since last December, when it assumed the Presidency, to showcase the country’s economic transformation and to push a Global South agenda. Modi’s compassion and empathy and generosity of vaccines and medical supplies during COVID have caused the Global South to embrace him and India.
Last January, India hosted representatives of 150 countries in Delhi to hear their concerns, which will be on the agenda at G20.
In response to a question from an interviewer about the focus on Global South, Modi-ji said the developed world should give importance to the developing, in order to make progress on global development.
“If we give them a place of pride, listen to them, understand their priorities, they have the capacity and capability to contribute to global good. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, a Sanskrit expression (One Earth, One Family, One Future) is the motto of our G20 presidency, and must include developing countries”.

Yours sincerely,
Vishnu Bisram