G 20 New Delhi summit held on 9-10 September 2023 with the motto ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future.’ Nine countries were invited to join as guests including Bangladesh, Singapore, Egypt, Spain, Mauritius, Netherlands, Oman, Nigeria, and the UAE. The invitation letters were disseminated having the name of India replaced by ‘Bharat’. The word ‘Bharat’ resonates with BJP’s ambitions for Akhand Bharat drive. However, its practical implementation as per an estimate can cost India Rs 14,304 crore.
In light of the event, New Delhi was adorned with the lotus-shaped logo representing India’s G20 presidency, which is also the symbol of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as if the event was organized by the BJP rather than the Indian government. Moreover, the PM Modi’s self-centeredness was revealed by the fact that neither the leader of the opposition, nor the heads of other opposition parties and floor leaders were invited to the G20 Summit dinner. To hide the poverty slums were cover with green curtains throughout the city, slum dwellers confined behind those curtains. The municipal corporation of New Delhi and administration launched a drive to pick up community dogs. In addition, the venue for the event, Bharat Mandapam, which was inaugurated earlier this year by the Indian Prime Minister at a cost of 2,700 crore rupees, experienced flooding due to heavy rainfall. It became evident that this significant investment lacked a proper drainage system. Opposition parties took to social media to highlight this issue, which was refuted as fake news.
Ahead of the G-20 summit, Prime Minister Modi hosted a private dinner for President Biden, during which they assured each other of their commitment to deepening their ties, recognizing the need to counter China’s rise, which has positioned India as a strategic partner of the United States. They issued a joint statement, where they agree to expand cooperation in emerging domains such as space, AI, Quantum technology, 5G/6G technologies, nuclear energy, and other initiatives on critical emerging technologies. They have aslo extended their cooperation in defense domain where Second Master Ship Repair Agreement concluded between them, that will make India a naval logistic hub for the US. They welcomed the General Electric deal to collaborate on the transfer of this sophisticated technology to India where HAL and GE Aerospace will collaborate on joint production of these Engines. These huge investments in India by the US is an attempt to boost its abilities as a counter-weight to China.
Furthermore, the joint statement of Biden and Modi said “re-emphasized the shared values of freedom, democracy, human rights, inclusion, pluralism, and equal opportunities for all citizens are critical to the success our countries enjoy and that these values strengthen our relationship.” The Biden administration faced severe criticism over ignoring the human rights violation rampant in India under Modi government. His inability to hold Modi accountable can potentially strengthened the religious persecution against the minorities in India.
The G20 New Delhi Summit was the first meeting under India’s G20 Presidency in which it was able to adopt joint declaration. It was possible only to avoid any criticism on Russia regarding Ukraine war. Furthermore, in previous summits, India faced a backlash where human rights violations in India were highlighted at international level. Furthermore, the G20 members were also criticized on normalizing religious persecution against minorities by not holding India accountable. Amnesty International ahead of summit wrote letter to G20 members to highlight deteriorating situation of human rights in India against minorities. To prevent such criticism on Indian internal unrest, Modi did not allow any G20 leader to hold press conference. Biden after the G-20 Summit went to Veitnam where he disclosed that he raised concerns on human rights and free press with Indian PM in summit.
The major developments in the summit were inclusion of African Union as a full member of G20. However, the challenge to India still lies ahead as it would not be able to replace China in terms of resources devoted to African Union. Furthermore, To counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, India delve into a corridor agreement with the US, Saudi Arabia, and UAE for rail and port infrastructure project termed as India-Middle East, Europe Economic Corridor. The US in an effort to isolate China and Russia, this agreement provides India an alternative to International North-South Transport Corridor. As Russia and Iran are making advancements on this corridor to reshape the Eurasian connectivity. Owing to the sanctions imposed on Russia, it requires an alternate route to the global market. The question here is whether USA will be able to withstand China and Russia connectivity politics in the region? It will be interesting to see how India will maintain a strategic balance between Russia and USA while also dealing with China’s rise in the region. G20 summit also suggests that the US is willing to spend more on India to counter China. Pakistan needs to create its own space in this diplomatic equation. It has to work on its diplomatic relations with major powers to make sure the strategic benefits India reap from the US as its close strategic ally must not be manipulated against Pakistan.
Writer is research Officer at Centre for International Strategic Studies, AJK.