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Great G20 power comes with greater responsibility


  • The world is watching India and its upcoming presidency of key global forums in 2023, which will put India on the global stage and allow it to place its priorities and narratives on the global agenda.
  • As the country prepares to host the G20 and SCO summits next year, the coming months will be a test for Indian foreign policy and diplomacy.


GS Paper 2: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Mains Question

Do you believe that the recent G20 summits have devolved into talking shops rather than getting down to business? Analyze critically (250 words)

The upcoming SCO meeting

  • On September 15-16, 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
  • Importance: This will be the SCO’s first in-person summit since the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Under scrutiny: The West and India’s Quad partners will be keeping a close eye on this visit for the following reasons:
    • Engaging with Russia: India’s engagement with Russian President Vladimir Putin as Russia’s war in Ukraine enters its sixth month.
    • Face-off with China: This will also be the first face-to-face meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping since the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) transgressions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) began in April 2020.
    • According to the Indian government, the remaining issues along the LAC will be addressed after the disengagement at Patrolling Point 15 in Gogra-Hot Springs, so any contact with the Chinese leader will be significant.
  • Indian presidency: At the conclusion of the Samarkand summit, India will take over the rotating presidency of the SCO for a year, until September 2023, and will also host the SCO summit the following year.
  • The SCO is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation that was founded in 2001. It is a Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance that has served as the region’s primary security pillar.
    • The SCO was founded by China, Russia, and four Central Asian states, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, with India and Pakistan joining the grouping in its first round of expansion in 2017.
    • At the Samarkand summit, Iran and Belarus could become the SCO’s newest members.

G20 Presidency

  • 2022 presidency: The 17th Group of 20 (G20) Heads of State and Government Summit will be held in Bali, Indonesia, in October 2022.
  • Outstanding position: The G20 plays a critical role in ensuring global economic growth and prosperity. It is a one-of-a-kind global institution in which developed and developing countries are treated equally.
    • It is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union (EU) that was founded in 1999 and includes representatives from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
    • Share: Its members collectively account for more than 80% of global GDP, 75% of global trade, and 60% of global population.
  • Indian presidency: Following Indonesia, India will hold the G20 presidency from December 1, 2022 to November 30, 2023.
  • Importance: By hosting the G20 Summit, the world’s most influential economic multilateral forum, India will be able to take centre stage in proposing and setting the global agenda and discourse.
    • It will undoubtedly be India’s most high-profile event. The country’s capacity for leadership and diplomatic foresight in organising such a large-scale event and reaching meaningful outcomes will be put to the test.
  • Key observations: India’s role as G20 president would be viewed in the context of a world affected by the pandemic and the Ukraine conflict, the rise of an assertive China, economic challenges such as stagflation, terrorism, and climate change, and so on.
    • Taking cues from Indonesia’s presidency: How to manage a group that is deeply divided on a variety of issues. This template could help India develop a comprehensive agenda.
  • Indonesia, for example, has prioritised three key pillars: global health architecture, sustainable energy transition, and digital transformation.
  • A delicate balancing act: While the West, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and G7 partner nations set the agenda, there is an emerging nexus between China and Russia, which hold opposing views to the first group.
    • India may be caught in the crossfire because it is a member of both the Quad and the SCO, which are on opposing sides of the geopolitical spectrum.
    • As a result, India has the opportunity to address issues that will aid in bridging the emerging divide in the world order and finding a common ground for setting its G20 agenda by addressing global concerns.
  • Prioritizing interests: India must also promote its domestic and regional priorities, such as economic recovery, trade and investment, unemployment, patent waivers on diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines to combat COVID-19 and terrorism.
    • More specifically, India could forge stronger ties with many G20 members, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Canada, accelerating their coordination on implementing free trade agreements.
  • Promoting a sustainable economic agenda: India could lay out a plan for a quick global economic recovery in order to ensure long-term and inclusive growth.
    • This could be accomplished, for example, by focusing on the supply chain resilience mechanism and emphasising the economy’s green and digital transformations and their impact on societal well-being.
  • Ensuring equity: The G20 provides an opportunity for India to champion the causes of developing and least developed countries, ensuring that this summit does not become a Western-dominated high table gathering or one in which large economies impose their aspirations on the rest of the world.
  • Balanced representation: To ensure better representation at the G20, India could invite and engage countries from Africa and South America.
    • Areas such as technology transfer, green economy assistance, greater trade access for developing countries, addressing debt distress of countries through sustainable aid and loan programmes, addressing food and energy prices/security for vulnerable economies, and so on could be relevant.


  • India will play a key role in outlining key priority areas and ensuring that the forum is more than just a “talk shop” in terms of meaningful actions and outcomes.
  • Only this will lend credence to India’s pivotal role in the international community in either brokering or breaking deals that may define the coming years and decades of global discourse and avenues of cooperation for India.

December 2023