At a time of heightened uncertainties for the global economy, India’s strong performance remains a bright spot. So, India’s Presidency of the Group of 20 (G20) in 2023 is set to bear fruits for the global economy, believe political and economic observers across the globe. Despite the current times being challenging due to conflicts, food insecurity, debt distress, and inflation, the year is set to be a turning point not only for the economic bloc, but for the world, as India aims to take along countries beyond the group members on its mission of ‘global progress’ with ‘universal brotherhood.’ The G20 has as its members other 18 countries of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK and the US, and the European Union. One of the most important blocs, the G20 contributes 85 percent to the global GDP and 75 percent to world trade, and houses 64 percent of the world’s population.
With the theme of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future,’ India plans to share its success story of technology-led financial inclusion and the new idea of LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) with G20 members, and making both critical components in assuring global economic growth and prosperity. The largest democracy and fastest-growing major economy stands committed to the primary goal of the G20, to recognise the significance of collective action and global collaboration among major developed countries and emerging economies throughout the world. Its role is also critical in making the forum more relevant in an otherwise declining era of multilateralism. With the message of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, India’s G20 presidency aims to be “inclusive, ambitious, decisive and action-oriented.”
On December 1, India took over the mantle of G20 presidency from Indonesia. A significant moment, the G20 presidency offers New Delhi the opportunity to anchor a powerful global bloc that comprises both developed and developing nations. The opportunity becomes more important in a fractured and crises-affected world, where India promises to take everyone along when it hosts the leaders of the member countries at the final G20 summit on September 9-10, 2023 in New Delhi.
Smt. Droupadi Murmu,
PRESIDENT, The Republic of India
“This year, India holds the presidency of the Group of 20 (G20) nations. With our motto of universal brotherhood, we stand for peace and prosperity of all. Thus, the G20 presidency is an opportunity to promote democracy and multilateralism and the right forum for shaping a better world and a better future. Under India’s leadership, I am sure, G20 will be able to further enhance its efforts to build a more equitable and sustainable world order. As G20 represents about two-thirds of the world population and around 85 percent of global GDP, it is an ideal forum to discuss and find solutions for global challenges. To my mind, global warming and climate change are the most pressing among them. Global temperatures are rising and incidents of extreme weather are increasing. We are faced with the dilemma: to lift more and more people out of poverty, we need economic growth, but that growth also comes from fossil fuel. Unfortunately, the poor bear the brunt of global warming more than others.”
For a nation deeply committed to democracy and multilateralism, the G20 Presidency is also a watershed moment for India, as it seeks to play an important role by finding pragmatic global solutions for the well-being of all, and in doing so, manifest the true spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (World is One Family).
The year 2023 is also a time when the world is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and facing global economic instability. At the helm of framing the platform’s priorities, India has the chance to play an important role in shaping and strengthening global architecture and governance on all major international economic issues. The year also marks the beginning of India’s “Amrit Kaal”– the 25-year period to the centenary of the nation’s independence from colonial rule – towards a futuristic, prosperous, inclusive and developed society, distinguished by a human-centric approach at its core.
Why does the G20 matter?
A premier forum for international economic cooperation, the G20 nations together account for around 80 percent of global economic output, about 75 percent of global exports, and nearly 60 percent of the world’s population. The statistics have remained comparatively stable while the corresponding rates for Group of Seven (G7) nations – a smaller group of advanced democracies – have dropped, as larger emerging markets take up a relatively greater share of the world’s economy.
The intergovernmental forum of G20 comprises 19 countries with some of the world’s largest economies, as well as the European Union (EU). The countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States. Spain is invited as a permanent guest.
The G20 was founded in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis as a forum for the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to discuss global economic and financial issues. The group was later upgraded to the level of Heads of State/Government and was designated the ‘premier forum for international economic cooperation.’
The G20 initially focused on broad macroeconomic policy, but later widened its ambit to include trade, climate change, sustainable development, energy, environment, anti-corruption, among other global agendas. It is not a permanent institution with a headquarters, offices or staff. Instead, its leadership rotates on an annual basis among its members, its decisions are made by consensus, and implementation of its agenda depends on the political will of its members. Since 2011, the G20 Summit has been held annually under the leadership of a rotating Presidency. After India, Brazil will take over the presidency of the G20 in 2024, followed by South Africa in 2025.
Shri Narendra Modi
PRIME Minister, the republic of India
“India, on the one hand, maintains close relations with developed countries, and at the same time understands and articulates well the point of view of developing countries. On this basis, we will outline our G20 Presidency with all the friends of the ‘Global South’ who have been India’s co-passengers for decades on the path of development. Our effort will be that there should not be any first world or third world in the world, but only one world. India is working on a vision to bring the whole world together for a common objective, for a better future. The logo of the G20 is not just a symbol. It’s a message. It’s a feeling that is in our veins. This is a resolution that has been included in our thinking. The spirit of universal brotherhood that we have been living through the mantra of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ is being reflected in this logo and the theme. In this logo, the lotus flower is depicting India’s mythological heritage, our faith, our intellectualism, all these together. The contemplation of Advaita here has been the philosophy of the unity of the living being.”
In addition to the 19 member countries and the EU, each G20 Presidency invites other guest countries and international organisations (IOs) to participate in the G20 meetings and Summit. During its G20 Presidency, India has invited Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and the UAE as guest countries. The nine guest countries to the G20 summit in September will be ultimately guided by ‘continuity’ of G20. It presents these nations an opportunity to come and be an equal partner in the G20 process. For Guest IOs, the invitees are ISA, CDRI and ADB in addition to the regular G20 IOs, UN, IMF, WB, WHO, WTO, ILO, FSB and OECD, and chairs of regional organisations, AU, AUDA-NEPAD and ASEAN.
The president of the G20 steers the grouping’s agenda that is split into two tracks—the Finance Track and the Sherpa Track. Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors lead the Finance Track, while Sherpas lead the Sherpa Track. Within the two tracks, there are thematic working groups in which representatives from the relevant ministries of the members as well as from invited/guest countries and various international organisations participate.
The G20 process from the Sherpa Track is coordinated by the Sherpas of member countries, who are personal emissaries of the Leaders. The Sherpa Track oversees inputs from 13 Working Groups, 2 Initiatives—Research Innovation Initiative Gathering (RIIG) and G20 Empower—and various Engagement Groups, all of whom meet throughout the year and develop their issue notes and outcome documents. The substantive discussions then provide consensus-based recommendations to the Sherpa Meetings. The outcome document of the Sherpa-level meetings finally forms the basis of the Leaders’ Declaration, which is debated and signed after a consensus is achieved, at the final G20 summit by the Leaders of the member countries.
The Engagement Groups bring together civil societies, parliamentarians, think-tanks, women, youth, labour, businesses, and researchers of the G20 countries. The Startup20 Engagement Group has been established under India’s G20 Presidency for the first time, recognising the role of startups in driving innovation that responds to a rapidly changing global scenario. Active consultation with the Engagement Groups forms an integral part of India’s “inclusive ambitious, decisive, and action-oriented” G20 presidency.
Shri AJAY BHATT
Minister of State for Tourism AND Defence, Government of India
“I am happy to learn that AsiaOne Magazine is coming up with a special feature showcasing India’s presidency at G20, titled “India’s G-20 Presidency: Promoting Universal Oneness with ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future,’ in its upcoming issue. I strongly feel that an important chapter in India’s role as a world leader is the G20 presidency. In these times of global challenges, the G20 Presidency gives India a unique opportunity to strengthen its role in the world economic order. With the theme of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,’ India is steering an ambitious, people-centric agenda to address global challenges and facilitate sustainable economic development. The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has invited all of us to come together to make India’s G20 Presidency “a Presidency of healing, harmony and hope.” I invite every Indian to come forward and become a part of this change. I also extend my best wishes to the AsiaOne team and look forward to many more inspiring articles in its forthcoming editions.”
During its term, India is hosting more than 200 meetings across 50 cities involving ministers, officials and civil society, leading up to the final summit in New Delhi in September 2023. The 43 Heads of Delegations – the largest ever in G20 – will participate in the final summit.
India as the G20 President
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that India’s theme of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ for its G20 Presidency, signals the need for unity of purpose and unity of action.
Addressing the opening segment of G20 Foreign Ministers through a video message on March 2, 2023, the Prime Minister pointed at the deep global divisions in the world. He remarked that G20 member nations have their own positions and perspectives on how these tensions should be resolved. He emphasised that as the leading economies of the world, the responsibility lies with G20. He added that the world looks upon the G20 to ease the challenges of growth, development, economic resilience, disaster resilience, financial stability, transnational crime, corruption, terrorism, and food and energy security. He remarked that G20 has the capacity to build consensus and deliver concrete results in all these areas. Underlining that the meeting is taking place in the land of Gandhi and the Buddha, Narendra Modi urged the dignitaries to draw inspiration from India’s civilisational ethos of focusing not on what divides us, but on what unites us all.
The most important factor of India’s G20 presidency is its pitch of One World – a leap from the world that was earlier either First or Third. The theme of India’s G20 Presidency—Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam or “One Earth One Family One Future”—is drawn from the ancient Sanskrit text of the Maha Upanishad. It affirms the value of all life—human, animal, plant and microorganisms—and their interconnectedness on the planet Earth and in the wider universe. The theme also spotlights LiFE, with its associated, environmentally sustainable and responsible choices, both at the level of individuals and nations, leading to globally transformative actions resulting in a cleaner, greener and bluer future.
Shri Eknath Sambhaji Shinde
Chief Minister, Maharashtra
“I am happy to know that AsiaOne Magazine is showcasing a special feature on India’s presidency at G20. I hope that the upcoming feature, “India’s G20 Presidency: Promoting Universal Oneness with ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future,” will give its international readers an insight into the country’s vision of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and the objective of representing the ‘whole world as one’ at the G20 Summit in India. With India as the president of the forum this year, it is our golden opportunity to connect with most of the world.
The Hon’ble PM, Shri Narendra Modi ji has said that India’s G20 Presidency belongs to the entire nation, and is a unique opportunity to showcase India’s strengths to the entire world. Maharashtra is proud to welcome the visiting G20 delegates and other international guests for deliberations, and investments in industries and tourism. The state will host 14 meetings of the G20 summit.
I am delighted that the whole country is working as a team.
Jai Hind! Jai Maharashtra!”
India’s G20 logo is an extension of this message. It draws inspiration from the vibrant colours of India’s national flag—saffron, white, green and blue—and juxtaposes planet Earth with the lotus, India’s national flower that reflects growth amid challenges. The Earth reflects India’s pro-planet approach to life, one in perfect harmony with nature. The logo and the theme together convey a powerful message of India’s G20 Presidency, symbolising striving for just and equitable growth for all in the world navigating through these turbulent times, in a sustainable, holistic, responsible and inclusive manner.
India’s G20 Sherpa, Amitabh Kant believes that G20 is a platform to take India’s growth story to the world. In an interview, he reiterated how India has been able to successfully build a digital architecture with public service as its core motive and how the private sector has been given the space to innovate.
“India has done some unique things. It has built up the digital identity, it has ensured bank accounts, it has brought in the digital empowerment protection architecture, it has driven the CoWIN app, it has ensured fast payments which are seven times of what the US, Germany, France and Canada do together, it is three times of what China does, and, therefore, this is a very unique model of building railway tracks on the top of which private sector can innovate. So, India is the only country where PhonePe and Google Pay compete, and because innovation is taking place by the private sector on top of the railway track, there’s a huge, huge new model,” he explained.
Shri Bhupendra Patel
Chief Minister, Gujarat
“India has vital stake in the stability of the international economic and financial system. Participation of India in G20 has always been important as India is one of the major emerging economies which cannot be ignored. Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendrabhai Modi has unveiled the logo of India’s G20 Presidency with a theme of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ or ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ that reflects the wider perspective on India’s long standing stance of cosmopolitanism. It is really heartening to learn that the AsiaOne Media Group is coming up with a special feature titled “India’s G20 Presidency: Promoting Universal Oneness with ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future.’” in the upcoming issue of the AsiaOne Magazine.
I am delighted to learn that this magazine believes that for India, G20 Presidency would be a watershed moment in the history. I hereby extend my heartiest best wishes to the editorial team of the AsiaOne Magazine for a bright future ahead.”
The eminent bureaucrat added that if the world wants to eradicate inequality and bring about transformation, the world needs to replicate the India model. “There’s an open API and this is interoperable. It is not costly and safe, and it has been transformational in India. Since it is transformational, the lessons learned from here of size and scale can then be implemented,” he said.
India’s Priorities for the G20
Green Development, Climate Finance & LiFE: Climate change is a key priority for India’s G20 presidency, with a particular focus towards climate finance and technology, and ensuring just energy transitions for developing nations globally. Understanding that the issue of climate change cuts across industry, society and sectors, India offers the world LiFE—a behaviour-based movement that draws from its ancient, rich, sustainable traditions to nudge consumers, and in-turn markets, to adopt environmentally-conscious practices.
Accelerated, Inclusive and Resilient Growth: Accelerated, resilient and inclusive growth is a cornerstone for sustainable development. During its G20 Presidency, India aims to focus on areas that have the potential to bring structural transformation. This includes an ambition to accelerate integration of MSMEs in global trade, bring in the spirit of trade for growth, promote labour rights and secure labour welfare, address the global skills gap, and build inclusive agricultural value chains and food systems, among others.
Accelerating Progress on SDGs: India’s G20 Presidency collides with the crucial midpoint of the 2030 Agenda or the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As such, India acknowledges the detrimental impact of COVID-19, which changed the current decade of action into a decade of recovery. In line with this perspective, India wants to focus on recommitting G20’s efforts to achieving the targets laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Technological Transformation and Digital Public Infrastructure: India can foreground its belief in a human-centric approach to technology, and facilitate greater knowledge sharing in priority areas such as digital public infrastructure (DPI), financial inclusion and tech-enabled development in sectors ranging from agriculture to education.
Multilateral Institutions for the 21st Century: India’s G20 priority will be to continue pressing for reformed multilateralism that creates a more accountable, inclusive, just, equitable and representative multipolar international system that is fit for addressing the challenges in the 21st century.
Women-led development: India hopes to use the G20 forum to highlight inclusive growth and development, with women empowerment and representation at the core of India’s G20 deliberations. This includes a focus on bringing women to the fore, into leading positions, in order to boost socio-economic development and achievement of SDGs.
The Era of Human-Centric Globalisation
While unveiling the logo of the G20 on November 8, 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that it reflected the notion of universal brotherhood, where it will strive for not only the country’s progress, but also global progress. He stressed that India’s G20 agenda will be inclusive, ambitious, action-oriented, and decisive. “Let us join together to make India’s G20 Presidency a Presidency of healing, harmony and hope. Let us work together to shape a new paradigm – of human-centric globalisation.”
Shri Manohar Lal
CHIEF MINISTER, HARYANA
“I am glad to know that AsiaOne Magazine is highlighting numerous initiatives planned during India’s presidency at G20. This upcoming feature “India’s G20 Presidency: Promoting Universal Oneness with ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future,’ will give its international readers an insight about a new India which is emerging as a global leader. Mahatma Gandhi had once said, “One must care about the world one will not see.” Indeed, humanity has progressed when it has collectively risen to its obligation to the world and responsibility to the future. G20 is one of the initiatives towards the same direction. It was the vision of the PM, Shri. Narendra Modi, under whose guidance the nation has got the presidency of G20. The theme “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” aims to encourage global solutions, inclusive collaboration among major developed and emerging nations, and recognise the significance of united actions. I extend my best wishes to the entire team of AsiaOne Magazine. I wish the summit and publication enormous success!”
The Prime Minister also dwelled on the democratic heritage of Indian civilisation. “Democracy, diversity, indigenous approach, inclusive thinking, local lifestyle and global thoughts, today the world is seeing solutions to all its challenges in these ideas,” he said.
There are many reasons for India to be pushing the message of inclusion and democratisation with its G20 presidency. Today, many Indians travel to different parts of the world for work and to travel. In 2022, the number of students travelling abroad for higher studies increased by 68.79 percent from 2021 to a total of 7,50,365, Union Minister of State for Education Subhas Sarkar told the Indian Parliament in February 2023. Given the significant presence of Indian workers, students and diaspora in various parts of the world, the consequences of international conflicts are immediately felt within the country.
Whether it is about Indian students stuck in Ukraine or workers in Sudan, any conflict anywhere in the word affects India. It also underlines the fact that international politics is no longer a far-away phenomenon that a handful of people in big Indian cities discuss in English. Rather, the subject is now pursued by common people on their phones in their languages.
Thus, it makes sense for every Indian state and union territory to be part of India’s G20 presidency, to which the government has responded well by hosting the forum meetings throughout the country, from Arunachal Pradesh in northeast to Kerala in the south. Many state governments are proactively using these meetings to showcase the economic opportunities in their respective areas. For example, hosting a tourism-related G20 dialogue in Srinagar presented an opportunity to showcase the tourism potential of Jammu and Kashmir.
DR. PRAMOD SAWANT
CHIEF MINISTER, GOA
“I am pleased to share a message with the readers of AsiaOne Magazine at an opportune time when India has the presidency of the G20. The G20 is a unique platform, as it brings together the developed and the developing nations to discuss and create solutions to overcome many, grave global challenges. India with its message of “One-ness” can effectively bridge the divide between these groups of nations by forging consensus on key universal issues. It is a moment of immense pride for Goa, as it has been chosen as the host of eight G20 meetings. This decision reflects the recognition of Goa’s potential to host and organise international events of such magnitude. It is a testimony to the state’s progress and development in terms of infrastructure, connectivity, and tourism. The people of Goa take pride in this achievement and are looking forward to showcasing our culture and hospitality to the world.
I extend my best wishes to AsiaOne Magazine for its endeavour to present a special article on India’s G20 presidency.”
In addition to democracy and diversity, the Prime Minister said that many of India’s achievements can be used by other countries of the world. The use of digital technology in development, inclusion, eradication of corruption, improving ease of doing business and ease of living, can be templates for many countries. He also highlighted India’s women empowerment and women-led development and financial inclusion through Jan Dhan Accounts. Given its natural strengths in information technology and building digital public goods, India is rightfully making technology governance an important agenda item of its presidency through the paradigm of “data for development,” first articulated by Prime Minister Modi at the G20 summit last year.
The Year of Solidarity
Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF), in a blog written on February 22, 2023, recognised India’s unique position to be able to bring countries together. “In a world facing multiple challenges and rising geopolitical tensions, this leadership is critical—and beautifully captured in the theme of India’s G20 presidency: One Earth, One Family, One Future. In my view, this spirit of “one” represents policymakers and for all of us as a global community,” she added.
Shri Yogi Adityanath
CHIEF MINISTER, UTTAR PRADESH
“I am happy to know that AsiaOne Magazine is publishing a special feature on India’s G20 Presidency titled “India’s G20 Presidency: Promoting Universal Oneness with ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future,” in its upcoming issue. In the year of Amrit Mahotsava, India has been bestowed the honour of presiding over the G20 group of leading nations of the world, under the dynamic leadership of Hon’ble PM Shri Narendra Modi ji. India is shaping new paradigms of human-centric globalisation encompassing the sublime spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam.’ India’s G20 Presidency has brought immense possibilities for UP. Eleven events are being organised in Lucknow, Agra, Varanasi and Gautam Buddha Nagar during the period of one year of G20 chaired by India. This global event is a great platform to introduce ‘Brand Uttar Pradesh’ to the world. We are committed to make the most out of this prestigious opportunity. I extend my greetings to every Indian, as we welcome G20 delegates. My best wishes for the entire endeavour!”
To the eminent economist, first, ‘one family’ means solidarity and protecting the vulnerable; second, ‘one earth’ means protecting our planet, our home. She underlined that about 15 percent of low-income countries across the world are in debt distress and an additional 45 percent are at high risk of debt distress. Among emerging economies, about 25 percent are at high risk and facing “default-like” borrowing spreads. “Here, solidarity means better mechanisms to restructure debt. Under the G20’s Common Framework, Chad reached an agreement with its creditors at the end of last year, and Zambia and Ghana are progressing toward debt resolution. But the ground rules need to be clarified and the processes made more efficient and effective,” she remarked.
To accelerate debt-restructuring efforts, the IMF, World Bank, and India’s G20 presidency convened a new Global Sovereign Debt Roundtable in Bengaluru in February 2023. The meeting paved the way for creditors, both public and private, and debtor countries to work together, and assess the existing shortcomings and best ways to tackle them.
Shri Mangal prabhat Lodha
MINISTER, TOURISM, SKILLS, EMPLOYMENT, ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND INNOVATION, WOMEN & CHILD DEVELOPMENT
“I am delighted to learn that AsiaOne Magazine is showcasing several initiatives planned during India’s presidency at G20. I hope that the upcoming feature in the magazine, “India’s G20 Presidency: Promoting Universal Oneness with ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future,’” will give its international readers an insight into the country’s vision of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and the objective of representing the ‘whole world as one’ at the G20 Summit in India. I will first express my gratitude to our Honorable Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, under whose guidance the nation has got the presidency of the G20 Council. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Eknath Shinde Ji and the Deputy Chief Minister Shri Devendra Fadanvis Ji have emphasised on the beautification of the cities in Maharashtra with the repair of roads, beautification of squares, and lighting. We are also implementing the concept of ‘responsible tourism,’ and striving to improve the sector by adopting more sustainable and inclusive tourism.”
“In this more shock-prone world, some emerging and developing economies will also require additional financial support. So, a well-resourced global financial safety net, with the IMF at its centre, is more important than ever. Think of how the Fund has stepped up to support our family of nations since the start of the pandemic. Over $272 billion for 94 countries of which about $34 billion was fast-disbursing emergency financing. The historic SDR allocation of $650 billion to boost our members’ reserves. And a new Food Shock Window provides fast access to resources for countries hit hardest by the food security crisis,” explained the IMF MD.
The economist called for further solidarity to stand as one with the low-income and vulnerable members to ensure they can still access concessional IMF financing in times of distress and to guard against future crises. Others with the strength and capacity to do so need to stand up and help address fundraising shortfalls—especially on subsidy resources in the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust—and deliver additional contributions to the new Resilience and Sustainability Trust.
Focus on Global South
In the year of its G20 presidency and beyond, India is committed to give voice to the countries of the Global South—including countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America that are poorer and less developed, and many with a colonial history—over the Global North—the wealthy and economically developed countries such as the US, Europe, and Canada. The commitment becomes particularly important amid a global economic crisis that is hampering post-pandemic recovery and ongoing shocks such as climate-induced disasters and war on Ukraine. Then there are the “grey rhinos” – the highly probable and highly impactful but neglected threats – such as climate change, uncontrolled migration, maritime security, changing nature of terrorism and radicalisation due to the rise of social media, economic inequality between and within nations, resilience of global supply chains, demographic imbalances and disruptive technologies. None of these challenges are new, but their urgency and intensity has become more powerful since 2008 when G20 first rose to prominence.
H. E. Mr. Federico Salas Lotfe
Ambassador of Mexico to India
“This year, while India is holding the G20 presidency, Mexico is working very closely with India to make sure that the goals, the objectives, that have been set out for this year’s G20 summit in September are met appropriately.
In the past number of years, the trade between Mexico and India has grown and has continued to grow. In spite of the pandemic, we are India’s number one trading partner in Latin America. India has become the tenth largest trading partner of Mexico in the world. We are also the first Latin American investor in India.
We are working very closely with the India presidency of the Group of 20 to assure that the workings of the group are successful. The G20 is a group that is not only setting very much the agenda for the main topics that are of concern to all the nations of the world, but also contributing to make the multilateral system more effective, more accountable, more responsive to the needs of the world’s population. I also wanted to say that I’m very proud to be doing this in the context of AsiaOne.”
The developing countries are particularly vulnerable to current food shortages, debt crises, and problems of inequality and poverty. In an important statement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said, “Most of the global challenges have not been created by the Global South, but they affect us more.”
The Global South has always been a focus area for India. In the years after its independence, India pioneered the Non-Alignment Movement to bring wider options to developing countries to help them avoid getting entangled in the power politics of the era. After a month of assuming the G20 presidency, the country convened a virtual summit bringing together 120 countries of the Global South, to involve nations that are not part of the G20 but are equally affected by global challenges. It sent out the message that even countries beyond the G20 members have a voice in India’s presidency. It also helps the Global South that the current troika of G20 presidencies comprises emerging economies Indonesia, India, and Brazil.
With the messages of “universal brotherhood” and “collective leadership,” India is pushing for better relations between the Global South and Global North and working towards unified solutions. For a number of reasons, the country is exceptionally positioned to assume the role of a bridge between the two, as it enjoys close partnerships with most countries in the Global North, while its challenges resonate with those facing the Global South. “India is a South Western power with very strong bonding with the developed world, which would enjoy as it goes up in the international order, the degree of trust and confidence of other developing states,” said External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.
H.E. Mr. Alejandro Simancas Marin
Ambassador of Cuba to India
“Cuba and India established bilateral relationship in January 12, 1960. We have just accomplished 63 years of bilateral relationship. It has been based on friendship, cooperation, dialogue, respect. We have been always together in the history, and now in the present, in defending the best values, the best causes of the world, defending the international law, the multilateralism, the rights of the people. Today, the challenges have changed, but in the essence, we are defending the same right – a better world for everybody based on social justice, equality of all the nations, multilateralism, and law. In that way, we celebrate the growing political and economic role that India is playing internationally.
This year, we are chairing the Group 77 plus China – the biggest group of countries that represent the real Global South. In reality, there are not 77 countries, but 134 countries, including India, in the G77+China. We are working together with India, particularly this year, to reinforce the Global South, to strengthen its voice and interest.“
India is part of several multilateral groups such as the QUAD, I2U2, and BRICS, which have countries from both the groups. The country also has the brilliant experience of maintaining close cooperation with both sides of conflicting nations, and collaborative approaches to global issues such as its vaccine and drug diplomacy.
India has overtaken the United Kingdom to become the fifth-largest economy in the world, and it remains the fastest-growing large economy amid looming recession in other regions. Considering its credentials as an emerging market and a “pillar for global economic revival,” regional positioning and emerging global leadership, India finds itself in diplomatic favour as a desired political, economic, and strategic partner, across both advanced economies and developing countries. India understands that this privilege comes with great responsibility.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi once pointed out that the world is looking with hope towards collective leadership, whether it is G7, G77 or UNGA. In such a situation India’s presidency of G20 assumes a new significance. He elaborated that India maintains close relations with developed countries on the one hand, and at the same time understands and expresses the views of developing countries well. “It is on this basis that we will build the blueprint of our G20 Presidency together with all the friends of the Global South, who have been India’s co-travellers on the path of development for decades,” he added.
Amid the global tumult, India is in a unique position where it shares cordial relations with almost all the stakeholders. It has maintained a non-partisan stand and continues to engage without fear or favour. This trust accords it a position where it can bring warring sides to the negotiation table. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, President of Mexico, went as far as to suggest the creation of the Commission for Promotion of World Truce to be composed of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Pope Francis and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The aim of the commission would be to present a proposal to stop the wars around the world and reach an agreement to seek a truce for at least five years.
H.E. Mr. Sinisa Pavic
Ambassador of Serbia to India
“Today’s Serbia as tourist destination could be identified very easily if you search on the internet. Belgrade is a popular weekend destination. During the COVID period, in Serbia we spoke first about importance of India providing us quantity of vaccines against COVID in first period. We had situation that in one moment we are a safe country in the frame of COVID-related rules, and then we had wonderful situation to have thousands of Indian families —mostly friends and families of Indian students — in some far countries who came there in Belgrade to spend a period before reaching the country of their final destination. Even in the most difficult period for both of our countries and humanity, we had a very positive and good result.
During the Indian presidency of G20, being based on 3D — development, diversity, and democracy, sharing the same values, we expect to have more similar occasions to share with our friends and talk about the importance of mutual understanding and contact between our two nations and with other nations in the world.”
India’s G20 presidency wishes to leverage this strength for the benefit of the Global South. While the country can afford to bypass sanctions, not many countries are in that position, leading them to a lack of sources such as food, oil and other basic necessities. By pushing the agenda of depoliticisation of global food supply chains, India is taking forward the cause of many such countries. If the country succeeds in bringing Global North to a consensus on the matter, it will have positive implications for the basic livelihood of billions of people across the world.
Initiatives for Global South
In line with India’s support to the Global South, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced several new initiatives for the benefit of the Global South at the Voice of the Global South Summit in January 2023.
The Voice of Global South Summit aimed at achieving “Unity of Voice, Unity of Purpose” and to shape a positive G20 agenda through consultation with G20 countries and members of the Global South. The summit, organised virtually over two days, saw the attendance of delegates from over 120 countries as well as seven Heads of State. At the summit, India introduced three projects to aid the Global South in sectors ranging from technology to health.
Dr. Hema Divakar
Chief Executive Officer & CHAIRPERSON, ARTIST
“As the largest democracy in the world, and the fastest growing economy, India’s G20 presidency will play a crucial role in building upon the significant achievements of the previous 17 presidencies. We as healthcare professionals seek to play an important role by finding pragmatic global solutions for the well-being of all. Being inspired by technology transformation, we at ‘ARTIST for Her’ have declared our mission of transforming women’s healthcare through digital skill transfer.
The initiatives will use technology for spreading awareness on preventive healthcare to the community, building capacity of frontline healthcare providers to deliver quality care, and providing affordable healthcare through teleconsultations to the last mile, reaching every girl, every woman. Since we believe that “Women’s Health is Nation’s Wealth,” all these steps taken will accelerate progress towards the SDGs and secure a better future for generations to come.”
The Prime Minister announced that India would establish the Global South Center of Excellence for research on development strategies that could be scaled up and applied globally. The centre will undertake research on best practices of many nations, which can then be scaled and implemented in others.
Another new institution, Global South Science and Technology Initiative will be formed to share its expertise in the fields of science and technology such as nuclear energy and space technology.
India’s Vaccine Maitri initiative – launched during the COVID-19 pandemic when Indian-made vaccines were supplied to more than 100 nations – will be converted to a new Aarogya Maitri project, to provide essential medical supplies to any developing country affected by natural disasters or humanitarian crisis.
The Prime Minister also proposed the establishment of a Global South Young Diplomats Forum, in order to enable young officers of foreign ministries to connect and “synergise our diplomatic voice” through an official channel. He also announced the founding of Global South Scholarships to allow bright young minds from developing countries to pursue higher education in India.
Disaster Management and Financing, a priority
With G20 nations grappling with a growing number of disasters and climate change-related risks – amounting to an estimated annual average loss of $218 billion or 9 percent of average annual investment in infrastructure – disaster risk reduction assumes great significance.
Dr. Satya Vadlamani
Chairperson and Managing Director, Murali Krishna Pharma Pvt. Ltd.
“This year, G20 has come to India. Its theme is One Earth. One Family. One Future. In India, we say this as Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. And that is exactly where India comes in from. I think we have completed in more than 40 cities, more than 100 meetings of G20.
As a platform to address global issues, it has been aligned towards women thought leaders, conservation, and sustainability. We have some top thought leaders in India who are working on all these areas. Healthcare is one of the key areas for the world, especially for women.
Sustainability and energy conservation have also been a major focus of discussion worldwide. We, at Murali Krishna Pharma, are working on sustainability, saving energy, and conservation. Primarily, we work on Go Green.
We are an aqueous company. When you talk about aqueous, you do not talk about solvents. When you do not use solvents, you do not create seepage into the earth. So, you are actually saving the earth.”
The G20 under India’s Presidency has endorsed a new working group on disaster risk reduction. This makes it well-positioned to prioritise disaster risk financing to achieve the targets set by Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
The Sendai Framework outlines seven clear targets and four priorities for action to prevent new and reduce existing disaster risks: understanding disaster risk, strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk, investing in disaster reduction for resilience and; enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
By prioritising disaster risk financing for the first time, the G20, under India’s presidency can convert good intentions into opportunities for investment. The country has extensive experience dealing with natural disasters and can lead in promoting awareness of the financial impacts of disasters. It can also lead the way in establishing a regulatory framework to enhance the financial capacity of insurance companies to cover disaster losses. Through the systematic and granular approach of the new Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group (DRRWG), the G20 will make a significant contribution to global efforts to manage disaster risks and build resilient economies and societies.
Shri Chintan Patel
Managing director, Deesan Group
“It is a great achievement of the Government of India to preside over G20. Delegations from G20 countries are meeting in various cities and states. So, they will be aware of progress India has made which may result in more investments, large numbers of tourists and may generate more employment opportunities. Our group is working on sustainability, technology upgradation and waste recycling with waste reduction. Ever since we started textile manufacturing, we have paid full attention to sustainability. We started a large project of water harvesting, free education to poor children, solar power installation, reduction in the use of water in processing, use of agro waste in boiler, among others. The Shirpur Pattern project — a water conservation project — is highly recognised for its sustainable irrigation, increase in cropping, and minimising soil erosion. Similarly, most of the company’s operations are powered by solar energy, thereby enabling us to reduce carbon footprints.”
This is absolutely important for the world as recent years have seen an increase in both natural and human-made catastrophes across the globe. The 2021-22 Human Development Report shows that disasters do not merely aggravate poverty and stop development, but also generate social polarisation across communities and countries. Absence of able financial risk management and insurance has helped these risks to grow and deepen, affecting society and the economy drastically. Annual disaster losses make a momentous share of GDP in many low-income countries.
The G20 has a crucial role to play in supporting countries, especially the low-income economies, to strengthen their financial risk management abilities. Before a disaster strikes, states must have in place and boost their capacity to understand risks and integrate them into government planning and budget processes. Another important factor is to empower the insurance sector with better regulation, legislation, and supervision. One must take along the private sector, as alliances with the sector need to be enabled to transfer sovereign risk to the capital markets. Last but not least, financing for response, recovery, and reconstruction needs to be improved by shifting from cure to prevention mode.
To address these pressing issues, the G20’s new DRRWG has recognised the importance of prioritising disaster risk financing, which was the focus of its second meeting in Mumbai in the last week of May. By emphasising the importance of disaster risk financing, the G20 can help governments worldwide to manage risk more effectively and ensure sustainable development.
Dr. P. Shyama Raju
Chancellor, REVA University
“REVA has aligned with G20 presidency right from the time the announcements of G20 presidency were made. The G20 Summit theme, — One Earth, One Family, One Future, which is on the principles of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam — has been the key to all our activities at REVA. The spirit of the NEP 2020 has already begun gaining momentum at REVA. Keeping the theme of G20 in mind, REVA went ahead and hosted in several states, a dance performance by the REVA School of Performing Arts and Indic Studies called Pancavaktram. The production blended perfectly with the Indian Knowledge System of the NEP and the theme of the G20 summit. Thereafter, at the campus, REVA hosted, Khel Khoj, a new way to play traditional games in limited spaces. This was our effort to revive the indigenous games of India. REVA University is responding to G20 Presidency by promoting links between universities and the environment in a sustainable, holistic, responsible and inclusive manner.”
The DRRWG aims to offer an extensive overview of disaster risk assessment and financing practices across countries. Right from data collection and analysis to improve access to international insurance markets, to disaster risk assessment and modelling, affordable and comprehensive insurance coverage of disaster risks, financial assistance and compensation for affected individuals and businesses, and risk transfer mechanisms, including catastrophe bonds and insurance, for management of fiscal risks, the DRRWG will strive to address all the key components of disaster management.
The working group on disaster risk reduction in the Sherpa Track of G20 will help issuers, investors, and other stakeholders to identify and classify disaster-resilient investments, assets, and entities in a more effective and evidence-based manner. By providing the screening criteria for investments in various areas — projects, assets, activities, entities — it could channel more capital towards disaster risk reduction investments, while creating new opportunities for innovation in sectors less commonly associated with disaster resilience, such as health, social protection, and natural capital.
Shri VSN Raju
Chief Executive Officer, Coempt EduTeck Pvt. Ltd.
“Coempt EduTeck Pvt. Ltd. (COEMPT) operates in education sector. We are making our small contribution in transforming education by empowering educational institutions in India with robust technology enabled examination solutions and user-friendly platforms that they can use to break away from traditional and erroneous means of assessing students. Our digital tools and user-friendly platforms help educational institutions to efficiently assess students in their academics and provide transparency to all stakeholders, be it students, teachers or parents. The solutions have been developed using the latest technology that reduces barriers and help us to easily expand across geographies. COEMPT is keen to collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers, and other stakeholders across nations to conduct research, pilot innovative solutions, and share best practices that advance the objectives of the G20 2023 agenda. Edutech companies like ours are poised to play a significant role in contributing to achieve the G20 objective.”
Over 300 potential hazards identified by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction can significantly impact the financial services industry and hinder progress towards the SDGs. The industry must incorporate material disaster risk into its investment decisions. The world needs to move beyond treating disasters as singular events and adopt a multi-hazard approach, taking into consideration various emergencies and risks in financial decision making. The second G20 DRRWG meeting in Mumbai strived to create vital links between public and private actors’ investment and financial decision making.
Towards a sustainable world
The G20 member countries together — including the world’s major advanced and developing economies — are also responsible for about three-quarters of global emissions. After the COVID-19 pandemic, the forum has recognised the importance of collective action in addressing environmental challenges and climate change. It started focusing on green growth, climate-resilient infrastructure, doing away with fossil fuel subsidies, green finance and investment and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), among the many crucial areas that need cooperation.
Dr. Minnie Bodhanwala
Chief Executive Officer, Wadia Hospitals
“My visionary aspirations lay a profound long-term objective of fostering an affordable and universally accessible healthcare landscape, steadfastly upholding unwavering standards of quality and treatment. Aligned with the esteemed vision of India’s G20 Presidency, my endeavour is to forge a comprehensive framework that mitigates disparities in healthcare availability across the globe, fostering a future where the doors of healing remain open to all, regardless of their origins or circumstances. My vision is not just limited to providing easily accessible and affordable quality healthcare, but also on the well-being of all which includes social and emotional well-being. Similarly, being a proponent to leverage digital technologies to improve access to health services, I am also supporting it by providing various digital tools, through my hospitals, to expand access to health services in remote and underserved areas. My focus is on providing value-based healthcare system to all.”
The G20 recognises the importance of collective action in tackling environmental challenges and climate change, while promoting transitions towards more flexible, transparent and cleaner energy systems.
The first Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group meeting of G20, held in Bengaluru on February 9-11, 2023, witnessed extensive deliberations on sustainable development and climate resilience. Speaking at the meeting, Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change said that with India taking over the G20 presidency, the discourse around sustainable development in the United Nations Decade of Action (2020-30) goal has caught global attention. The minister in February had said that the concept of ‘Green Growth’ in the Union Budget validates how sustainable development has been mainstreamed in the Indian policy-making process.
“India has already submitted its Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategy (LT-LEDS) document at COP 27 in Sharm El Sheikh which is premised on two major pillars of climate justice and sustainable lifestyles alongside principles of CBDR-RC. With this India has joined a list of 58 countries who have submitted their new or updated LT-LEDS,” he said.
Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR–RC) is a principle within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It acknowledges the different capabilities and differing responsibilities of individual countries in addressing climate change.
An equally important statement came from US economist and Director, Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, Jeffery D. Sachs that with India taking the Presidency at G20, there will be four years in a row where countries representing the voice of the real world are at the head of the G20.
“It was Indonesia last year, India this year, Brazil next year, and South Africa, the next year. You have the power to make the change. The BRICS countries are now larger than the G7 economies. The world is in your hands,” added the world-renowned economics professor and a global leader in sustainable development.
“The most positive news by far on this occasion is that the G20 Presidency is in India’s hands. This is a fundamental change of global politics that is underway. It is extremely important. It is not an accident that we have not had progress politically. The biggest obstacle to progress by far in the last 25 years has been the US government and a few other high income countries. We need India to be in the lead, we need China to be in the lead, we need Brazil to be in the lead. What is remarkable about global politics right now is that we are in the midst of fundamental change. We are at the end of the North Atlantic world and at the beginning of a true multilateral world,” Sachs said.
Giving direction to businesses
India’s G20 presidency has come at a crucial time, when the world has never been in a bigger economic turmoil. While we struggle to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic fully, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and China’s supremacy over supply chains have forced countries to look inwards and take more protectionist measures. In addition, the world faces an intimidating global recession, climate change and energy transition. There is a strong need for a resilient global healthcare system, digital transformation, and to overcome unemployment and a rising poor-rich divide.
Amid these uncertainties, India stands as a bright, hopeful spot. It is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies that is buzzing with economic activity, with tens of millions of aspirational consumers with a growing propensity to spend, a young labour force, and a huge start-up ecosystem, along with a pro-reform government keen to bring in investments and scale-up manufacturing.
Given this scenario, India’s G20 Presidency is a brilliant opportunity for the nation to boost the partnership between businesses of the world’s largest economies. Business 20 (B20) is the official G20 dialogue forum that provides practical recommendations from the business community to G20 leaders, to shape policy.
B20 India has strategised its agenda and priorities based on the earlier dialogues in previous G20 summits. The agenda is to drive these further through seven task forces and two action councils that will take ahead these priorities for the year. The task forces in the B20 India include trade and investment, skilling, technology and innovation, energy, climate change, and ESG. Each task force has a Chair and several Co-Chairs. A task force develops a policy paper with practical proposals for the forum. Through these task forces, businesses regularly exchange, consolidate interests, and promote joint positions on matters that build trust and interconnectivity. Businesses can address their challenges and needs through broader consensus and multi-country cooperation.
One of the most important engagement groups is the Startup20 Engagement Group. It is the first-of-its-kind official engagement group initiated under the Indian presidency of the G20.
Startup20 aims at creating a global narrative for supporting ventures along with easing contact and improving synergies with more established businesses. It is well-equipped to put forth far-reaching ideas, making policymakers to simplify complex processes and regulatory obstacles, and forge ahead from “ease of doing business” to “getting business done”.
Apart from the engagement groups, the G20 has Working Groups under the Sherpa Track encompassing experts and officials from relevant ministries, representatives of G20 member nations, special invitee countries and prime international organisations. These forums actively discuss a range of internationally relevant issues and existing frameworks such as digital economy, environment and climate sustainability, education, health, and agriculture, among others.
The Working Groups also reflect India’s priorities such as India’s commitment to making LiFE a global movement. There are special campaigns, programs, and initiatives being launched, such as the G20 Digital Innovation Alliance under the G20 Digital Economy Working Group (DEWG).
Digital Economy Agenda, a key focus of India’s G20 Presidency
India’s digital public infrastructure, which includes the Aadhar, eKYC, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Digilocker (an online storage platform), come under the ‘India Stack’. It is a set of open APIs and digital public goods that aim to unlock the economic primitives of identity, data, and payments at population scale. Launched by the Prime Minister on July 4, 2022, the India Stack portal is available in all six United Nations official languages and provides a window to any country interested in examining these solutions. “Although the name of this project bears the word India, the vision of India Stack is not limited to one country; it can be applied to any nation, be it a developed one or an emerging one,” says the Government of India on the India Stack website.
India’s world-class DPI has many admirers across the globe, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In a working paper released in April 2023, the IMF said India’s digital transformation journey presents lessons for other countries embarking on their own digital transformation. Together these APIs enable online, paperless, cashless, and privacy-respecting digital access to a variety of public and private services, the paper noted.
The IMF paper, titled ‘Stacking up the benefits: lessons from India’s digital journey’, argued that India’s digital infrastructure helped the people during the pandemic. “India was able to quickly provide support to an impressive share of poor households during the pandemic. In the first months of the pandemic about 87 percent of poor households received at least one benefit,” the paper said.
Thanks to the robust digital infrastructure across India, the Government of India could save an estimated 1.1 percent of the GDP in expenditure up to March 2021. The paper particularly noted how the government pushed for financial inclusion through the Jan Dhan scheme, which provided low-cost zero-balance accounts to millions of poor Indians by linking their accounts to Aadhar. Under this initiative, 462.5 million bank accounts were opened in both urban and rural areas, as of August 2022. In addition, India Stack has digitised and simplified Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures, lowering costs. Banks that use e-KYC lowered their cost of compliance from $12 to 6 cents, the IMF paper said.
The digital infrastructure has also helped overcome logistical challenges during the COVID-19 vaccination process. “Using a digital backbone allowed India to scale its vaccine delivery quickly and overcome challenges such as large-scale internal migration. The technology underlying CoWIN has been deployed in Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Jamaica to help facilitate their vaccination programmes,” the paper noted.
To Prime Minister Narendra Modi, this digital transformation should not be confined to a small part of the “human race,” and its greater benefits will be realised only when digital access becomes “truly inclusive.” Speaking at the G20 summit on November 16 in Bali, Indonesia, the Prime Minister strongly pitched for a pledge by the G20 leaders to work for bringing digital transformation into the life of every human being in the next 10 years so that no person is deprived of the benefits of new technologies. India’s G20 presidency is an opportunity to drive the message ahead.
As G20 president, India now has the opportunity to extend its digital revolution to low and middle-income countries, which still face a significant digital divide. On 28 December 2022, Union Minister of Communications, Electronics, and Information Technology (MeitY ) Ashwini Vaishnaw launched the G20 Global Digital Innovation Alliance (DIA) and the Stay Safe Online campaign. “Solutions springing from India will not be solutions for 1.4 billion people of the world, but for the next 5 billion people of the world who will move from poverty to middle class,” said G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant at the launch in New Delhi.
During India’s G20 presidency, MeitY – the nodal ministry for the G20 DEWG – will focus on three priority areas, namely DPI, cyber security, and digital skill development, together with the Stay Safe Online campaign and DIA programme. MeitY aims to carry forward the vision of the digital transformation of the global digital economy for public service delivery through innovation and a future-ready digitally skilled workforce in a secure cyber environment.
The Stay Safe Online Campaign aims at raising awareness among citizens about the importance of staying safe online due to the widespread use of social media platforms and the rapid adoption of digital payments. The G20 DIA, on the other hand, seeks to identify, recognise, and facilitate the adoption of innovative and impactful digital technologies developed by startups from G20 countries as well as invited non-member nations. This can address humanity’s needs in critical sectors such as agritech, health tech, edtech, fintech, secure digital infrastructure, and circular economy. As G20 president, India now has the opportunity to accelerate its digital transformation for the benefit of all humanity.
Engaging every stakeholder
Besides their main business, companies can make an impact in a number of areas through Engagement Groups. These groups not only aim to add value to the economy, but also society, making them necessary to be part of the dialogue.
The Civil20 (C20) Engagement Group provides a platform for civil society organisations (CSOs) around the world to bring forth a non-government and non-business voice to G20, and give them space through which global CSOs can contribute in a structured and sustained manner to the G20.
Labour20 (L20) Summit convenes trade union leaders from G20 countries and provides analyses and policy recommendations aimed at addressing labour-related issues. Meetings under the Parliament20 (P20) Engagement Group aim to bring a parliamentary dimension to global governance, raise awareness, build political support for international commitments, and ensure that these are effectively translated into national realities. The Science20 Engagement Group, comprising the national science academies of the G20 countries, presents policymakers with consensus-based science-driven recommendations formulated through task forces comprising international experts.
A recent addition to the list of engagement groups under the G20 came last year. The Supreme Audit Institutions 20 (SAI20) as an Engagement Group was introduced by the Indonesian Presidency in 2022. It is a forum to discuss the important role played by SAIs globally in ensuring transparency and accountability, and in promoting cooperation among the G20 members.
Engagement groups such as Think20 (T20) and Urban 20 (U20) aim for far-reaching objectives. The T20 serves as an “idea bank” for the G20 by bringing together think tanks and high-level experts to discuss relevant international socio-economic issues. T20 recommendations are synthesised into policy briefs and presented to G20 working groups, ministerial meetings, and leaders’ summit to help the G20 deliver concrete policy measures.
The U20, a city diplomacy initiative, comprises cities from G20 countries. The group strives to establish a lasting practice of engagement among cities to develop a collective message that emphasises the role of cities in taking forward the sustainable development agenda. It plays a vital role in contributing perspectives, concerns, and ideas from cities to inform and enrich the overall G20 negotiations.
Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Riyadh, Rome and Jakarta have previously chaired the U20. This year, Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat, is the Chair for the 6th edition of U20. Resonating with India’s G20 theme of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’, U20 Ahmedabad emphasises that actions at the city level can drive lasting positive global outcomes underscoring the interconnectedness of the world and our shared future. The National Institute of Urban Affairs is working with the city as the U20 Technical Secretariat.
There are six priority areas of this year’s U20 that are critical for inspiring city-level actions to respond to global agendas. India aims to further develop these by collaborative deliberations among the U20 cities. The priorities are encouraging environmentally responsible behaviours; ensuring water security; accelerating climate finance; championing ‘local’ identity; reinventing frameworks for urban governance and planning; and catalysing digital urban futures.
Women as drivers of economic growth and development
One of the most important engagement groups is the Women 20 (W20), which focuses on gender equity. This is crucial as empowering women is no longer a choice, but a necessity. It is also smart economics. Women’s involvement is needed for not only improving outcomes, but is also about investing in healthier communities and stronger economies. Closing gender gaps benefits countries as a whole, not just women and girls.
The primary significance of W20 is to ensure that women are included in the G20 discussion. The engagement group provides that the Leader’s Declaration of G20 promises policies that move towards women’s empowerment and development. Its vision is to create a world where women share equal space and live dignified lives, and its mission is to create an enabling environment without any hindrances to women-led development.
The W20 agenda prioritises women-led businesses, and women at the grassroots level, bridging the digital divide. Furthermore, it facilitates conversation around climate change and women’s skill development and education. W20 and its women-driven goals also support SDGs that lead to a greener and bluer earth.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi says, women empowerment is important for India’s development during Amrit Kaal. “We cannot achieve success if 50 percent of our population, being women, is locked at home,” the leader said in Bali, Indonesia in December 2022. Under his leadership, the Centre has been taking measures for women empowerment. The country themed this year’s International Women’s Day, ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.’ From computing to virtual reality and artificial intelligence, women have made untold contributions to the digital world. Still, a persistent gender gap in digital access – either in the form of cyber threats in the digital ecosystem or its restricted reach to women altogether – keeps them from unlocking the technology’s full potential. While supporting women socially, educationally, economically and politically, the Government of India is implementing several schemes to bridge the gendered digital gap.
An important initiative is Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan under Digital India programme that aims to bridge the digital divide. The programme specially targets the rural population, including the marginalised sections of society, women and girls, and aims to cover 6 crore rural households.
Another important programme is Mission Shakti. The integrated women empowerment programme is being rolled out as an umbrella scheme for the safety, security and empowerment of women for implementation during the 15th Finance Commission period. The programme has two sub-schemes, namely “Sambal” for the safety and security of women and “Samarthya” for empowerment of women.
Under the ‘Samarthya’ sub-scheme, a new component i.e. Hub for Empowerment of Women (HEW) has been included to facilitate inter-sectoral convergence of schemes and programs meant for women at the Central, State/UT and District levels. Digital literacy of women at districts/Blocks/Gram Panchayats level across the country is one the major components of this scheme.
National Commission of Women also has a series of initiatives under its Digital Shakti Campaign – a pan-India project on digitally empowering and skilling women and girls in cyberspace. The programmes are run in collaboration with CyberPeace Foundation and Meta.
While taking the mantle from Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Prime Minister Narendra Modi remarked at the G20 Summit in Bali in December 2022 that “global development is not possible without women’s participation.”
Moving forward, India needs to focus on three critical areas, namely, women in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), women-led enterprises, and women at the grassroots level. These will have an encompassing impact on women’s empowerment and help G20 economies reduce gender gaps and inequality in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Agenda.
A key concern of W20 is to ensure that gender considerations are mainstreamed in the G20 discussions and translated into G20 Leader Declarations as policies and commitments that foster gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. During India’s G20 presidency, some of its priority areas are women’s entrepreneurship, raising women’s participation in the labour force, women’s leadership at the grassroots level, bridging the gender digital divide, education, and skill development. Companies already running women empowerment programs or are eager to do something new under their CSR programs can contribute to improving women’s lifestyles, especially from marginalised communities or those with different abilities.
Fuelled by Young Energy
Another crucial group is the Youth20 (Y20). An official engagement group of the G20, this group comprises young leaders from the G20 countries. It serves as a bridge between youth and the forum, providing a space for young people to share their ideas and perspectives on issues impacting their communities and the world. This year, the Y20 engagement group will be holding more than 500 outreach events with participation from more than 100 global leaders and target outreach to 350 million Indian youth population and 1 million global youth population – a grand opportunity for any youth-focused brand or anyone keen to make a valuable contribution to the youth.
As of 2021, a staggering 1.2 billion people, or 16 percent of the global population, belong to the age group of 15 years to 24 years. In just 7 years, by 2030, the number of youth is projected to rise by 7 percent, reaching 1.3 billion and making up nearly a quarter of the world’s population. In India, the data shows that the age group between 15 years to 29 years makes 34 percent of the population. Even as this number declines over time, around 24 percent of the Indian population will still be considered youth in 2030. The participation of all citizens in formal political and governance processes is the backbone of a healthy and meaningful democracy. People aged 14 years to 29 years represent the largest generation in history, and it is crucial to take this significant section of the population into consideration and include them in the power structure for making decisions and the overall functioning of democracy.
As the United Nations Youth Strategy has stated, “Young people are connected like never before, they want to and already contribute to the resilience of their communities, proposing innovative solutions, driving social progress, and inspiring political change, in urban as well as rural contexts. Therefore, young people constitute a tremendous and essential asset worth investing in.”
It’s important to empower and involve the youth in democracy to create a strong foundation for the future, said Swami Vivekananda. The renowned spiritual leader and social reformer had a global vision for the youth. He believed that the youth of any nation possess the power to shape its destiny.
The five themes of the Y20 in the year of India’s G20 presidency are: Future of Work: Industry 4.0, Innovation and 21st Century Skills; Peacebuilding and Reconciliation: Ushering in an Era of No War; Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction: Making Sustainability a Way of Life; Shared Future: Youth in Democracy and Governance; and Health, Wellbeing and Sports: Agenda for Youth.
India, the Centre of Global Business
In an era of unmatched multidimensional crises, India has proved itself to be resilient. The G20 presidency not only gives India the opportunity to share success stories with the world, but also brings global businesses to India. The IMF’s latest projections underline that emerging markets and developing economies are expected to contribute around 80 percent of global growth, with India accounting for more than 15 percent. Having recently become the world’s fifth-largest economy, India is also the only large economy predicted to grow at over 6 percent in coming years.
The Government of India has been providing the right policy climate over the past few years to help the country steer through various crises, allowing for domestic capacity building and giving a necessary push to further propel India on the path of economic growth. This includes building the right environment for attracting foreign direct investment, engaging in deeper and freer trade and global value chain integration, improving infrastructure (including digital), reforms in the banking and renewable energy sectors, and promoting entrepreneurship.
While the G20 presidency aims to tackle issues like climate change, economic vulnerabilities, reform of multilateralism, lack of finance and embracing sustainability and green transition through collective efforts, India’s economy can be boosted through international trade, international collaboration and sharing of best practices in technology to help the country build innovation, and the inclusion of MSMEs in deliberations to open new opportunities for them. The G20 deliberations through the year are also helping India showcase its technology prowess and initiate new partnerships. The Trade and Investment Working Group of G20 has been engaged in promoting resilient trade, enhancing MSME participation in trade and expanding logistics, among other issues.
Furthermore, directly engaging with global businesses can act as a catalyst for new investments, believe experts. Alongside the G20 meetings, leading businesses of the world are undertaking dialogues on the B20, which is the largest among all G20 engagement groups. During the year, B20 India is organising more than 100 policy discussion initiatives across the country that are attracting noteworthy participation from other countries.
As the designated B20 secretariat, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has outlined nine priority areas with the theme of RAISE – Responsible, Accelerated, Innovative, Sustainable, and Equitable businesses. Through seven task forces under B20, global businesses as well as think tanks and international organisations are working on building inclusive global value chains for resilient global trade and investment; the future of work, skilling, and mobility; energy, climate change and resource efficiency; digital transformation; financing for global economic recovery; technology, innovation, and research and development; and financial inclusion for economic empowerment. Further, two action councils are focusing on ESG in business and a collective dialogue on African economic integration.
As the G20 countries engage intensively with India during this year, India’s economy is expected to receive a significant thrust that will enable many new jobs and investment proposals.
Boosting primary healthcare
India has put forth several priorities for the health sector in its G20 Health Working Group meetings. The priorities include health emergencies’ prevention, preparedness and response; ‘One Health’ approach; antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surveillance; strengthening cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector with focus on access to and availability of safe, effective, quality and affordable medical countermeasures such as vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics; and digital health innovations and solutions to aid universal health coverage and improve healthcare service delivery.
Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, is of the opinion that India’s cordial relationships with both Global South and Global North can bring several advantages to the world, such as in the area of primary healthcare.
In a column published in an Indian daily on May 13, 2023, the Union Health Secretary wrote, “The COVID-19 pandemic has affirmed that health is a global public good. It has also underlined the critical role of the State in shaping and delivering a public health vision, especially because market forces often fail to address the medical needs of people, particularly the poorest and the most vulnerable, in full measure. It also highlighted the centrality of the WHO in shaping the contours of responses to disease outbreaks. The blueprint framed in the process can apply to national governments and multilateral institutions such as the G20. Its critical elements include helping countries to respond promptly, providing accurate information, ensuring vital supplies reach frontline healthcare workers, training and mobilising medical professionals and developing and delivering vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics.”
To health experts like Bhushan, strengthening primary healthcare is crucial to the roadmap ahead for health emergencies. And, India’s G20 presidency would facilitate synergy with the WHO’s 10 “bold proposals” for a safer and more equitable world, he said. Effective and timely strengthening of Health Emergency Preparedness, Response and Resilience (HEPPR) will require deepening the agreement and convergence amongst stakeholders. “The three pillars of HEPPR are governance, collaboration, and financing. India has played key roles and demonstrated political commitment in some of the recent initiatives on strengthening global health governance — these include the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) for the pandemic treaty, the Muscat Manifesto on AMR in Oman (2022), and the Friends of Medical Countermeasures Platform in South Africa (2023). The operational readiness of five interconnected multi-sectoral HEPR systems — collaborative surveillance, community protection, safe and scalable care, access to countermeasures, and emergency coordination — is another priority area that India’s G20 presidency is focusing on,” he emphasised.
G20 has already contributed to the WHO and World Bank Pandemic Fund that was launched during the Indonesia presidency in November 2022. The Fund has secured more than $1.6 billion in donations, mostly from G20 members, and will strengthen the HEPR in several countries of the Global South, the union health secretary highlighted.
Mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) was first introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at COP26 in Glasgow, UK. It was officially launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister and UN Secretary-General António Guterres on 20 October 2022 at Kevadia, Gujarat.
Mission LiFE focuses on bringing about behaviour changes in individuals for combating climate change. The objective is a global movement for transitioning from a model of destructive and mindless consumption to deliberate and mindful utilisation of resources.
The nodal ministry for national-level coordination and implementation of Mission LiFE, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has mobilised central ministries, state governments, institutions, and private organisations to align their activities with LiFE and spread awareness about the sustainable actions that individuals can undertake. Activities such as street play, painting, and essay writing competitions are being carried out with a focus on sustainability, at district, state, and national levels under LiFE.
The initiative aims to create a global network of individuals called Pro-Planet People (P3) committed to adopting and promoting eco-friendly lifestyles. It envisions replacing the prevalent ‘use-and-dispose’ economy—governed by mindless and destructive consumption—with a circular economy, which would be defined by mindful and deliberate utilisation. The Mission intends to nudge individuals to undertake simple acts in their daily lives that can contribute significantly to climate change when embraced across the world.
LiFE plans to leverage the strength of social networks to influence social norms surrounding climate. The mission plans to create and nurture a global network of P3, who will have a shared commitment to adopt and promote environmentally friendly lifestyles. Through the P3 community, the Mission seeks to create an ecosystem that will reinforce and enable environmentally friendly behaviours to be self-sustainable.
Mission LiFE seeks to translate the vision of LiFE into measurable impact. It is designed with the objective to mobilise at least one billion Indians and other global citizens to take individual and collective action for protecting and conserving the environment in the period 2022–28. Within India, at least 80 percent of all villages and urban local bodies are aimed to become environment-friendly by 2028.
LiFE and SDGs
The Government of India reiterates that Mission LiFE contributes directly and indirectly to almost all SDGs, the prime ones being focused on sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), responsible production and consumption (SDG 12), climate change (SDG 13), life on land (SDG 15), and life under water (SDG 14), which together emphasise that all individuals ensure that their lifestyles are in sync with the resources available on the planet. Further, research from the New Climate Economy highlights that bold environmental action could create as many as 65 million jobs by 2030, serving SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).
SDG 12 entails decoupling economic growth and environmental degradation and demands more efficient and environment-friendly management of resources, including improving energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, access to basic services, and providing green and decent jobs to ensure a better quality of life for all. The societal responsibility towards SDG 12 goes beyond businesses, to involve individual consumers as active participants in the process of achieving this goal.
Meri LiFE App
On May 15, 2023, the Union Minister for Environment, Forest, and Climate Change launched the Meri LiFE app. The app will help in creating a structured way to track the progress being made on Mission LiFE.
As a build up to June 5, the World Environment Day, the union minister launched the app to catalyse youth action for climate change. It will showcase the power of citizens, especially young people in saving the environment, and understand the impacts of simple actions in daily lives that can have a larger climate impact.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of the Government of India also has two dedicated portals for LiFE. The missionlife-moefcc.nic.in is an open access portal and can be used to download more than 100 creatives, videos, and knowledge materials developed for the mission.
The portal, merilife.org has been developed for ministries and institutions to upload event reports and capture the progress of the mass mobilisation drive.
In the run up to Environment Day, the central ministry organised more than 1,00,000 LiFE-related events across India, mobilising over 1.7 million individuals to take pro-planet actions.
The events included cleanliness drives, bicycle rallies, plantation drives, LiFE marathons, plastic collection drives, composting workshops, and taking a LiFE pledge. Many schools and colleges also organised cultural competitions such as street plays, essays, paintings, and youth parliaments.
Upon successful sign up on the app, the users were guided to participate in a series of LiFE-related tasks under five themes of Save Energy, Save Water, Reduce Single Use Plastic, Adopt Sustainable Food Systems and Adopt Healthy Lifestyle. Through a gamified experience, the app nudged people to take the 5-for-5 challenge.
The Meri LiFE app is available on Google Play Store. The theme of this year’s mass mobilisation campaign, which ran till June 5, was Solutions to Plastic Pollution. The important topic aligned with one of the seven themes of Mission LiFE, i.e., “reducing the use of single-use plastic items.” These plastic products are used once, and are responsible for causing massive plastic pollution across the world.
The Journey So Far
From April 17-19, 2023, India hosted its 100th G20 meeting in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. The milestone of 100 meetings was successfully achieved across 41 cities in 28 states and union territories, with more than 12,300 delegates from 110 nationalities. These meetings included three ministerial meetings, 36 workstreams, more than 150 cultural events, and 7,000 artists.
In the four months since India assumed the mantle of the G20 presidency, all 13 working groups under the Sherpa Track, 10 out of 11 Engagement Groups, and four G20 initiatives had completed their first meeting.
The G20 Alliance for the Empowerment and Progression of Women’s Economic Representation (G20 EMPOWER), Research & Innovation Initiative Gathering (RIIG), Chief Scientific Advisers Roundtable (CSAR), and the Space Economy Leaders Meeting (SELM) had successfully hosted their inception meetings.
Space economy has been a relatively new entrant to the G20, being introduced in 2020. Under its presidency, India is expected to make all attempts to lobby for making space as a formal element of G20 discussions for future. Various governments present at the Space Economy Leaders Meeting, held from April 17-18, 2023, in Shillong, Meghalaya supported the idea of boosting the sector.
On the occasion of accomplishing 100 meetings successfully, G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant highlighted the inclusive pan-India approach of India’s G20 presidency, which is centred on Jan Bhagidari or citizen’s engagement.
“It underscores our commitment to making the G20 a platform that is truly representative of and responsive to the people’s needs. In line with our values, India has long held active public participation at the core of its policy formulations. As such, our G20 ambitions are in tune with a human-centric approach to development. The G20 engagement groups form the bedrock of constructive civil engagement within the ambit of high-level multilateral negotiations and have a significant share of voice in shaping India’s G20 agenda,” said Amitabh Kant.
The leader also shared the significant progress made by the various G20 working groups in addressing critical global priorities. The Agriculture Working Group has proposed solution-based approaches for food security and nutrition, focusing on climate-smart agriculture, inclusive value chains, and digitisation for agricultural transformation.
Digital transformation has been a cross-cutting priority, with the Health Working Group proposing initiatives such as the global initiative on digital health and an IT-enabled pandemic-management platform.
The Digital Economy Working Group is shining a spotlight on India’s innovative, open-source, and interoperable DPI that has empowered billions of people and led to significant financial and social transformation. This presents a unique opportunity for India to impart best practices, having successfully developed and deployed ground-breaking initiatives such as Aadhaar, CoWIN, UPI, e-KYC, and ONDC, at an unprecedented scale, the senior official said.
The Education Working Group is adopting digital inclusion for inclusive and collaborative tech-enabled learning, focusing on universal foundational literacy and numeracy.
India’s new Engagement Group, Startup20 to provide a major impetus to innovation, has received overwhelming support, shared Amitabh Kant.
Climate action is a key priority. India’s G20 Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group is focusing on finance and technology, and the Energy Transitions Working Group is spearheading fair energy transitions, including setting the foundations for India as a green hydrogen hub.
The Development Working Group is coordinating efforts to accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals and promoting India’s behaviour-based movement, LiFE, which incentivises communities and markets to adopt environmentally conscious practices. The group has also engaged with other fora, including the Conference of the Parties (COP) presidency of the United Arab Emirates, upcoming G20 presidencies of Brazil and South Africa, and Japan’s G7 presidency, to further India’s developmental priorities.
India has also established the Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group for the first time to encourage collective research and the exchange of best practices on disaster risk reduction.
The Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG) has seen strong participation from member countries, as India hosted its first-ever in-person ministerial meeting in March. On the first day of the ACWG, a side event was held on Leveraging ICT to curb corruption in the public sector, an area in which India’s recent initiatives like the GEM Portal and DBT were globally recognised. During this event, leading experts from India showcased how India has adapted the power of ICT to curb corruption in public service delivery.
India’s Trade and Investment Working Group has also been driving its extensive list of priorities, including trade digitisation, developing hinterland logistics, financing needs of micro, small and medium enterprises, building resilient global value chains, and reforming global financial institutions such as the World Trade Organization. The group has also focused on women’s economic empowerment and promoting sustainable trade.
Finally, the Tourism and Culture Working Groups are working hard to boost green tourism as a driver of growth, and preserve and promote traditional cultures and cultural properties, respectively.