‘India has shown great leadership in steering the G20 forward in a very troubled time’: Ambassador Shringla

Harsh Vardhan Shringla at the G20 Secretariat in Sushma Swaraj Bhawan, New Delhi, on September 12, 2023. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

G20 Chief Coordinator, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who served as the 33rd Foreign Secretary of India, and India’s Ambassador to the United States, spoke to News India Times, in an exclusive interview, about the recently concluded G20 Leaders’ Summit, at the G20 Secretariat in Sushma Swaraj Bhawan, New Delhi on September 12, 2023.

Q. There were uncertainties surrounding the ability of the G20 Leaders to achieve a consensus on the New Delhi Leaders Declaration, primarily due to opposition from Russia and China regarding the language pertaining to the Russia-Ukraine conflict within the document. What occurred behind the scenes, and how did India engage in negotiations to unite all G20 members in reaching an agreement and ultimately endorsing the Leaders’ document?

It must be attributed to India’s status in global affairs and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s own stature. I think these have contributed to a very successful outcome of the New Delhi Leaders’ Summit. There were some differences within the G20 on geopolitical issues. And it needed in our view a different approach to resolve this. If you look at the outcome document carefully, the eight paragraphs which relate to geopolitical issues which were really the areas that needed the most attention, especially towards the end, came under the rubric of planet, people, peace, and prosperity. And from that perspective, each of the eight paragraphs have a distinct imprint of what India’s approach has been to this issue right from the beginning. Respect for the United Nations Charter, international law, sovereignty, territorial integrity of states, diplomacy and dialogue are the only option, and this is not an era of war. All of these are reflected in the document, which means the international community is willing to look at differences, I would say, in a problem-solving manner.

The G20, is primarily a forum that deals with larger socio economic and financial issues of the day. It is in the interest of every country to seek resolution of some of the global challenges that in some senses are very important to the rest of the international community, especially the Global South.

Q. Regarding the inclusion of the African Union as a permanent member of the G20 under India’s Presidency, can you please explain why is India championing the cause of the Global South?

India has always maintained that international governance bodies must reflect realities of the 21st century and the African Union is a very important part of the Global South that is under-represented in global governance institutions. So, it was incumbent on us under our Presidency of the G20 to lend a voice to such an important part of the Global South. We are very happy that the advent of the African Union as a permanent member of the G20 was announced under India’s Presidency.

India has increasingly been viewed as the voice of the Global South and we have taken that responsibility seriously. Under India’s Presidency, we have achieved the objectives of articulating the voice of the Global South in the G20 and addressing their core concerns. The outcome document shows that we have addressed the requirements and concerns of the Global South.

Q. What more could have been achieved under India’s G20 Presidency?

I think we’ve just about achieved everything we wanted to. It’s very satisfactory in terms of the outcomes. We will be part of the Troika as Brazil takes over the Presidency – with Brazil and South Africa, we will continue to steer the G20 process in a manner that addresses the larger global issues that are there and especially the concerns of the Global South. In today’s context, I think everybody is willing to look at issues from a broader perspective and India has facilitated that shift in the G20’s approach to global issues.

Q. What will be India’s role in the G20 moving forward?

So, I think India has shown great leadership in steering the G20 forward in a very troubled time. Globally, recovering from the COVID crisis and given the impact of the ongoing Ukraine conflict, a lot of countries are facing serious economic difficulties, and, in that context, India stepped into to take over the Presidency and many countries said that if any country can deal with the situation, now, it is India. And I think we came up to that expectation, both in terms of the way we conducted our Presidency, and in terms of the way the outcomes of our Presidency were delivered in the outcome document. I think people of India have every reason to be proud of the fact that today India is not only on the global high table, but we are also the ones taking the initiatives. And I think from every point of view, this is a game changer for India, and our model of a human-centric development has been really taken to the global level through the G20.



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