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India to forge unity as G20 president to tackle larger global issues

India’s G20 presidency will focus on forging unity within a disparate grouping to tackle larger global challenges such as indebtedness of countries and climate change at a time of divisions over issues like the Ukraine conflict, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

This approach will require engagement with all G20 members, including China which is engaged in a dragging border standoff with India, since the grouping of the world’s 20 largest economies is consensus-driven, the people said ahead of the country beginning its presidency on December 1.

Though the G20 has a structured agenda, counter-terrorism remains an important issue for India and will be raised within the grouping at forums such as the foreign ministers’ meeting. On the finance track of G20, the focus will be on ensuring inclusive and resilient growth following the global impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine crisis, they said.

The theme for India’s G20 presidency – ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ – highlights the importance of having an approach that unites the world to address the future together, and of meeting expectations of developing countries with regard to global challenges such as climate action. While addressing the final session of the G20 Summit in Bali, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said the country’s presidency will be “inclusive, ambitious, decisive and action-oriented”.

“We have to bring about unity, not divisiveness, at a time when the Global South is expecting the G20 will respond to global issues,” one of the people cited above said. “In our presidency, we will try to get a level of unity that can address the most challenging and pressing issues and we will keep divisiveness to a minimum level.”

Also Read:India’s G20 presidency will be inclusive, decisive, action-oriented: PM Modi

This includes divisions between the West and Russia over the Ukraine conflict, and India will seek to act as a bridge so that the G20 can tackle pressing larger issues such as economic growth, indebtedness of countries, reviving the momentum to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs), and climate change.

All G20 members, including China, are important because of the grouping’s consensus-based approach. “We will need to engage every member. China is the world’s second largest economy and crucial for supply chains. You can’t talk about the indebtedness of states without China being a part of it,” the person said.

In the context of debt relief, the people pointed to problems experienced by certain countries in India’s neighbourhood that were too reliant on external debt and experienced a lot of hardship since the pandemic. India will also work for reforms of multilateral institutions such as the Bretton Woods institutions – the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) – whose current mandate does not equip them to respond to contemporary challenges, including raising more finances through the private sector or providing financing for climate action.

On the possibility of G20-related meetings being organised in Kashmir, Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, the people said the calendar for more than 200 meetings before the G20 Summit in September 2023 is still being worked out.

India’s start of the G20 presidency on December 1 will be marked by several events, including the lighting up of 100 monuments across the country with the G20 logo, a ‘University Connect’ event bringing together students of some 75 universities in order to involve the youth, messages from top leaders such as external affairs minister S Jaishankar, and the release of videos and radio jingles.

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