Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to put forward India’s perspective on addressing key global challenges in areas of health, post-pandemic economic recovery and energy and food security at the G-20 summit in Bali that is taking place in the backdrop of Russia’s increasing confrontation with the West over its invasion of Ukraine.
The summit of the world’s biggest economies on November 15 and 16 assumes significance for New Delhi as it will see handing over of the G-20 Presidency to India by Indonesia at the closing ceremony of the annual gathering.
Modi is travelling to the Indonesian city on Monday on a three-day visit to participate in the summit which is also set to be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron, among others.
At a media briefing, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said Modi will have separate bilateral meetings with a number of leaders on the sidelines of the summit but did not give a direct reply to questions on whether there will be a meeting with Xi.
“These bilateral engagements with the other leaders are still in the process of being scheduled. This is something which remains under evolution,” Kwatra said.
The two leaders attended the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand in September but there was no bilateral meeting between them.
Kwatra said Modi will participate in three key sessions — food and energy security, digital transformation and health — at the G20 summit and that he and other leaders will deliberate extensively on key issues of contemporary relevance, including the state of the global economy, issues relating to energy, environment, agriculture, health and digital transformation.
“The Bali summit comprises of three working sessions at the leader’s level where the prime minister will be participating. These include the sessions on food and energy security, a session on digital transformation, and a session on health,” Kwatra said.
He said the G20 deliberations have acquired a greater salience as it is taking place in the backdrop of global challenges such as uneven post-pandemic economic recovery, debt vulnerabilities especially in countries of the global south, the ongoing conflict in Europe and its knock-on effects such as food security challenges, energy crisis and inflation on all countries of the world.
“The G20 leaders will discuss these challenges and underscore the importance of closer multilateral cooperation to help overcome these challenges,” he said.
The foreign secretary said the summit is particularly special for India as it will hold the Presidency of the grouping from December 1 for a one-year period, and the Presidency handover will take place during the summit in Bali.
“India as the next chair would endeavour to provide a greater voice to issues of interest to the global South and steer the G20 agenda in a representative and balanced manner,” Kwatra said.
Asked about Modi’s bilateral meetings, he said these engagements with the other leaders are still in the process of being scheduled. “This is something which remains under evolution.”
On India’s incoming Presidency, the foreign secretary said its position has been of “steadfast and strong support” to Indonesia, which as the Presidency has shown strong leadership in ensuring that the G20 platform discusses issues of substantive interest to the world.
“The prime minister would receive the G20 Presidency from the President of Indonesia at the closing session of the Bali Summit, and as you all know, India will host the next G20 summit in September 2023,” he said.
Kwatra said Modi will also utilise the opportunity of his presence at the Bali summit to invite leaders to India’s G20 summit.
The G20 summit programme also includes a leaders’ visit to what is called Bahasa Indonesia, Taman Hutan Raya, which is a mangrove forest in Bali.
Kwatra said Modi in his bilateral interactions with the G20 leaders will brief them on India’s evolving G20 priorities as also to review key elements of bilateral engagement.
“India’s G20 Presidency hopes to provide new strength, direction and perspective to G20 discussions on diverse subjects which include green development, lifestyle for environment, digital transformation, inclusive and resilient growth, women-led development and more importantly, a greater voice for the global south in issues of international economic cooperation as also on the need for reformed 21st-century institutions,” he said.
During India’s G20 Presidency, Indonesia and Brazil would be the Troika.
“This would be the first time in G20 that the Troika would consist of three developing countries and emerging economies in a row,” the foreign secretary said.
In Bali, Modi will also address and interact with the Indian community and friends of India at a community reception on November 15. The Indian community and diaspora have a strong presence across Indonesia.
Modi will depart Bali on November 16 on the conclusion of the Bali Summit.
Kwatra said the delivery of governance using digital platforms and digital instruments is set to figure in the deliberations at the G20 summit and highlighted India’s competencies in these areas.
Asked about what would be Modi’s message at the summit, Kwatra did not give a direct reply but listed continuing uncertainty and challenges relating to climate, health and energy security, among others.
“The challenges relating to the food security, the pandemic has clearly shown us the problem of the global health security that all of us encounter,” he said, adding discussions would take place around them.
“And at this stage, I can’t tell you for sure what the prime minister’s interventions would be, but I’m assuming that it would be an intersection set of many of these elements and specific subsections of these elements,” Kwatra said.
The G20 or Group of 20 is an intergovernmental forum of the world’s major developed and developing economies.
It comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US and the European Union (EU).
The G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation representing around 85 per cent of the global GDP, over 75 per cent of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population.
India is currently part of the G20 Troika (current, previous and incoming G20 Presidencies) comprising Indonesia, Italy and India.