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Opinion | Decoding Delhi Declaration: A ‘G21’ Curation by Bharat for the World

Written By: Colonel Rohit Dev


Last Updated: September 10, 2023, 13:38 IST

New Delhi, India

As dusk dawns on the 18th G20 Summit in New Delhi, a new dawn of the first G21 Summit emerges from the soil of Bharat. (PTI)

As dusk dawns on the 18th G20 Summit in New Delhi, a new dawn of the first G21 Summit emerges from the soil of Bharat. (PTI)

African Union joining the G20 as an essential member marked the geopolitical strength of Bharat, which has been heralding the need for its inclusion and has shaped its entry during its Presidency with great vigour and diplomatic efforts

As dusk dawns on the 18th G20 Summit in New Delhi, Bharat, a new dawn of the first G21 Summit emerges from the soil of Bharat. The swan song over a year, since the gavel of G20 was taken over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi; representing 140 crore citizens, has been through nearly 220 meetings hosted in 60 cities in Bharat and all have been celebrated with moments of culture, cuisine and consensus; with penultimate Y20 and B20 shaping the final contours of the Delhi Declaration.

The G20 Presidency of Bharat has been truly curated with a larger participation of people and all continents of the world, and while it started with taking suggestions from the African continent, it led to the inclusion of the African Union as the 21st member of the G20 Comity of Nations; the most powerful platform of global economy and trade.

The G20 Bharat sojourn constituted the Sherpa Track, which had 13 working groups and four initiatives, the Finance Track which deliberated upon global macroeconomic issues through its meetings of finance ministers and Central bank governors, their deputies and various working group meetings and the engagement groups like B20, Civil20, Science20, Parliament20, Startup20 etc; comprising non-government participants from each G20 member, provide recommendations to the G20 leaders and contribute towards the policy-making process.

Backstage, there have been nearly all Ministries that provided due inputs and took on responsibilities to conduct various events across Bharat with due support of host states. The year gone by has been an exhilarating and energised time of engagements, persuasions and inspirations with successes galore and not many setbacks at all. The clarion call for “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” has enthused new hope and vigour post-pandemic and its associated retarders that impinged economic activity and affected normalised living.

Seven Wonders of Diplomacy: Key Takeaways from G20-G21 Summit

Bridging Global Trust Deficit

With the resurgence in the Cold War between NATO and Russia with the belligerence of China on display, the global economic slowdown and the disruption of life during the pandemic and its aftermath, the world has been turning more protectionist and a ‘trust deficit’ has developed into some lasting fissures in the global order. The innate ability of Team Modi, with Sherpas Amitabh Kant and Dr S Jaishankar leading the ‘Persuasion Mission’, the task was herculean but one would have considered it done, since its inception; given the growing clout of Bharat as a ‘trustworthy’ partner of the world, reliance on the nation increasing with the faith of Global South bestowed upon it and the fact that ‘China Plus One’ is a reality and Bharat stands to gain exponentially with investments, manufacturing, infrastructure, renewable energy, healthcare and more and in turn, it being a ‘friend of many’ across the globe.

Broadening Collective Approach for Global Development

Through the Delhi Declaration, G21 tends to develop a focused global approach towards facets of food security, energy security, and climate change mitigation by promoting Lifestyles for Sustainable Development (LiFE) and conserving biodiversity, forests and oceans, poverty and inequality including building countermeasures for future health emergencies, developmental goals with intent to accelerate 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, scale up global adaptive financing for accelerating Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through a ‘Green Development Pact’ which includes ‘Global Biofuels Alliance’ and more. Such a broad-based ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ approach will foster an environment for policy directives, investments, partnerships, collaborations, and skill development.

Surge in Leadership of Bharat

Human-centric agenda put forth by Bharat has been the ‘geopolitical showstopper’ of the New Delhi Leadership Declaration of September 9, 2023. Bharat’s leadership, with a proven track record in leadership of the International Solar Alliance, brought in the ‘Green Development Pact’ and its visionary outlook laid down the scope for strengthening Multilateral Development Banks and they getting better and bigger with enhanced representation of the developing countries, while it addresses the global debt vulnerabilities.

Bharat brought in the need for a digital services transformation, sustainable inclusive growth, closing the gender gap and ensuring bringing in perspectives of developing countries in summits ahead. African Union joining the G20 as an essential member marked the geopolitical strength of Bharat, which has been heralding the need for its inclusion and has shaped its entry into the G20 during its Presidency with great vigour and diplomatic efforts.

New Horizons of Global Trade, Investments and Partnership

As the world awakens to the harsh realities of supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine War; both imposed by man, the focus of the Declaration emphasises on facilitating investments including Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) towards sustainable business models. There is much to learn from developed countries and to be gained by developing countries including the African Union. Adoption of G20 Generic Framework for Mapping Global Value Chains (GVC) to help members identify risks and build resilience, high-level principles on digitalization of trade documents, Jaipur call for action for enhancing MSMEs’ access to information to promote the integration of MSMEs into international trade, strengthening national statistical data, extending the coverage of the ILO and OECD skills for jobs databases to G20 countries, Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP), which provides an action-oriented and forward-looking roadmap for rapidly accelerating the financial inclusion of individuals and MSMEs, particularly vulnerable and underserved groups in the G20 countries and beyond, curbing financial corruption with due support to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and operationaliSation of the GlobE Network with actions in line with Article 16 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and much more that promote and mitigate risks in trade and investments.

One should expect an acceleration in global investments in developing countries in sectors of SDGs, food security, renewable energy sector, poverty alleviation, healthcare, education, climate action, digital infrastructure, gender and social equality and more. Bharat and Africa will gain the most and opportunities for Bharat to partner and collaborate with Africa will increase too.

Global Focus on Climate Change and Energy Transition

The ‘eyecatcher’ moment of the summit was the focus on the “Green Development Pact”, as G21 pledged to urgently accelerate actions to address environmental crises and challenges including climate change, in pursuit of the objective of UNFCCC. G21 does acknowledge the need for a sustainable progressive lifestyle-based energy transition and that demands investments. Adhering to the Paris Agreement, working on pledges for 2030 climate action targets, mainstreaming LiFE, implementing clean, sustainable, just, affordable & inclusive energy transitions, voluntary action plan on doubling the rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030, facilitating access to low-cost financing for developing countries for existing as well as new and emerging clean and sustainable energy technologies and for supporting the energy transitions, recognising the importance of sustainable biofuels in zero and low- emission development strategies, and setting up of a Global Biofuels Alliance were key highlights of the deliberations.

Also, countries that opt to use civil nuclear energy will collaborate voluntarily and on mutually agreed terms, in research, innovation, development & deployment of civil nuclear technologies including advanced and Small Modular Reactors. Leaders did acknowledge the role of grid interconnections, resilient energy infrastructure and regional/cross-border power systems integration where applicable, in enhancing energy security, fostering economic growth and facilitating universal energy access for all.

The ‘core belief’ was on conserving, protecting, sustainably using and restoring ecosystems. Ending plastic pollution, financing cities of tomorrow, reducing disaster risk and building resilient infrastructure were thoughts that leaders noted for action. The overall impact of the “Green Development Pact” will be noticeable and globally phenomenal and Bharat will emerge as both an enabler and a market for many initiatives in the domain of a sustainable world. The ‘Global Biofuels Alliance’ will bring in better technologies, collaborations, partnerships, skill development & jobs, research & development, standardisation and more to Bharat as it will also lead this alliance’ making its position clearer as the ‘Global Leader in the Green Energy Revolution’ which Bharat itself has truly embarked upon and inspires the world; with many gains for rural economies across the world; especially Asia and Africa.

Special Invitees are Friends of Bharat

Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and the UAE (in alphabetical order), are friends with whom Bharat has forged good relations under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and by having their presence at the G20 Summit, Bharat is signalling their importance to the world as well.

In addition to the regular international organisations (UN, IMF, WB, WHO, WTO, ILO, FSB and OECD) and Chairs of Regional Organisations (AU, AUDA-NEPAD and ASEAN), Bharat, as G20 Presidency, invited ISA, CDRI and ADB as Guest Independent Observers, showcasing the need for more inclusivity. The multipolarity and regional polarity of the world is creating many multilateral organisations and stitching countries bilaterally as well. By including many financial organisations, Bharat has truly endeavoured to make ‘finance reach the need’ and in that, Bharat will also be a bigger beneficiary.

Bharat brushes BRI Aside to Bridge the World

Multimodal transport took another global dimension as Bharat, with the support of Middle Eastern countries and Europe, and impetus from the US and other developed countries of G20, embarked on creating the Indo-Middle East-Europe Mega Economic Corridor, which will connect Bharat to the Middle East through sea (both sea-lanes and under-sea rail and maybe road someday) and then to Europe through railways. This announcement itself rings a ‘bell of isolation’ for China and pulling out of a few signatories from BRI implies that the world is rallying back Bharat and supporting it as a ‘trustworthy’ and equitable partner in sustainable economic development and growth across the world. The Economic Corridor will also enhance bilateral ties of Bharat with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, the European Union, France, Italy, Germany and the US and amongst them too. This ‘Global Economic Bridge’ will facilitate a rail link, electricity cable, hydrogen pipeline, high-speed data cable and more.

Three Strikes of the Gavel that Define the Bharat “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” Summit

Strike One: One Earth

On September 9, 2023, in his inaugural address of the G20 Summit, Chairperson PM Narendra Modi embraced the Global South by welcoming Azali Assoumani, Chairperson of the African Union to the high table, while introducing the African Union as the 21st Member; thereby making the Summit a G21 Summit; as one got reminded of a 21-gun salute to the world.

Arriving in New Delhi on September 8, 2023, Assoumani had said, “I’d like to thank him (PM Modi) for accepting our membership. If the African Union becomes a full member of the G20, it would be because of Bharat’s role. This is an honour for us.” and lo behold, the gavel struck at the inaugural address by PM Modi was a ‘welcome to the world’ for the African Union. G20 accounts for 80 per cent of the Gross World Product (GWP), 75 per cent of international trade, two-thirds of the global population, and 60 per cent of the world’s land area and with the inclusion of the African Union (with 55 countries), will add $3 trillion and 1.5 billion population to drive the global good.

Strike Two: One Family

Delhi Declaration, much anticipated and much doubted in some circles across the globe due to the absence of Presidents Putin and Xi Jinping, was passed with optimism and collective support of all members, a day early, and was welcomed by the world at large. PM Modi’s words - “I have received good news. Due to the hard work of our team, consensus has been built on New Delhi G20 Leaders’ Summit Declaration. My proposal is to adopt this leadership declaration. I announce to adopt this declaration. On this occasion, I congratulate my Sherpa, ministers, who worked hard for it and made it possible…”, ushered in much joy and praise and this marks Bharat being accepted as a leader in the world and dare I say, this could well be a ‘Nobel Prize act’ for Prime Minister Modi.

Strike Three: One Future

That last ‘gong of the gavel’ on September 10, 2023, did not mark the end of Bharat’s Presidency of the G20 but it marked the hope associated with the G21 it has been able to shape and implement during its “decisive presidency’. The world got closer today. The sweet ‘promising’ aftertaste of the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration and the gala dinner hosted by the President, seemed to linger as leaders reaffirmed their commitments towards collective participation to usher sustainable global development with deeper and long-term commitments and resolve, as partners, collaborators and a global team.

Gains for Bharat at the Bharat Mandapam

G20 Presidency of Bharat marked the start of ‘Amrit Kaal’; a progressive march towards a futuristic, prosperous, inclusive and developed society; distinguished by a human-centric approach at its core and the ethos of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ meant to realign, reinitiate and reignite the world towards collective approach to usher on peace through prosperity.

Our Bharat, through its ‘Vishwa Mitra’ endeavours since Vaccine Diplomacy and standing up for Global South, has been bestowed with the mantle and responsibility of ‘Vishwa Guru’ and that must be a matter of pride for each citizen and diaspora. The ‘trust’ of the world in Bharat has enhanced due to our promises, actions and enabling others.

Our digital surge, prudent economic growth, ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ endeavour for growing manufacturing, commitments towards sustainable climate goals and achieving targets even during the pandemic period, geopolitical stance and ability to forge strategic partnerships with both the US and Russia (only nation to do so) while retaining its national interests and Bharat being both a large emerging economy and market with human capital to sustain growth for next few decades are some noticeable parameters that the world looks at Bharat with reverence and wants to partner with.

The ‘bilateral boost’ for Bharat has been phenomenal with encouraging developments with Canada, Comoros, Turkiye, the UAE, South Korea, the EU, Brazil, Nigeria, Mauritius, Bangladesh, the US, the UK, Japan, Germany, Italy, and France during this Summit.

One could broadly list the following gains made by Bharat during its Presidency of G20:

  1. Bharat emerged as a ‘consensus-driven’ and ‘trustworthy’ global leader.
  2. Investment magnet in which global financial institutions believe in and much share of global financing into energy transition, infrastructure etc. will come in.
  3. Accepted global growth enabler of the world; replacing China as the preferred destination for both manufacturing and global market.
  4. Access to the Middle East, West Asia, and Europe through Partnership for Global Infrastructure Initiative (PGII) by the G7 Nations, will boost trade, partnerships, and development along those routes and negate the BRI of China and in a sense, reduce Chinese influence in the world.
  5. Allows an opportunity to enhance investments in Africa and take off China as a factor economically there. Interests of developed countries especially the US and the UK in Africa will enable the growth of Bharat there too, as many mineral reserves will be accessible for mutual benefit with African countries.
  6. Enhances scope for bilateral ties with many countries including those that attended as Special Invitees and countries of the African Union and Middle East.
  7. Bharat retains good relations with Russia while building global consensus.
  8. Brings Bangladesh closer as it might reduce distrust of the US in the current dispensation in Bangladesh and wean away that country from China; something that benefits Bharat and the world at large as well.
  9. Builds a ‘buffer in crises’ for Bharat as many countries will tend to support it when its chips are down due to health or, disaster crises in future.
  10. Positions Team ‘Modi’ as a much-loved and inspiring government for the people of Bharat; a workforce of billions committed to national interests & pride.
  11. Galvanizes the citizens and diaspora to excel and create more opportunities through people-to-people connect globally.
  12. Brings focus upon Bharat from global organisations, agencies and institutions with deeper and long-term commitments & strategic partnerships.

It has been a truly global summit which has been dominated by a consensus of world leaders and celebrated with the culture and cuisine of Bharat.

Bharat has taken ‘strides of leadership’ while accepting more responsibilities and roleplay in an emerging multilateral world order; where its growth inspires that of the world and especially developing nations.

Bharat has truly arrived on the world stage as a leader!

Colonel Rohit Dev, a 2nd Generation Army Officer, is an Adjunct Professor at the Rashtriya Raksha University, a Geo-political Analyst and a Primetime TV personality. Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely that of the author. They do not necessarily reflect News18’s views.

first published:September 10, 2023, 13:38 IST
last updated:September 10, 2023, 13:38 IST