The Successful Diplomatic Efforts of India at the G20 Summit

The recently concluded G20 summit in Delhi was a significant diplomatic achievement for India. Despite the sharp divisions among member nations over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, India managed to bring together nations with starkly divergent views on the issue. The joint declaration of the summit garnered unanimous support from all G20 member nations, a result that seemed almost impossible just a few days ago. This article aims to analyze how India overcame bitter divisions and brokered a consensus among the G20 countries.

One of the key factors that contributed to India’s success was the expansion of the five-nation Brics group, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. During their annual summit in August, the Brics group decided to include six new members, including Argentina, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, all of which have close ties with China. While the expansion may not have directly influenced the outcome of the G20 summit, it’s no secret that the West has been wary of China’s growing influence, especially in the developing world. This concern made the West see India as a counterweight to China, and they were motivated to help India forge a consensus.

The major sticking point during the summit was the conflict in Ukraine, with the G20’s declaration in Bali last year specifically mentioning “aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.” The West, including the US and the UK, wanted language that was stronger than that used in Bali, whereas Russia preferred a statement that didn’t directly blame them for the war. India, having good relations with both Moscow and the West, was seen as well placed to broker a compromise. Ultimately, the declaration avoided blaming Russia for the war, which was viewed by analysts as a lenient stance compared to Bali. However, it did recognize the human suffering and adverse repercussions of the conflict on global food and energy security.

Another issue of concern addressed during the summit was the debt crisis faced by many developing countries, which was exacerbated by the pandemic and the ongoing war. Developing nations have been calling for increased support from affluent countries to help their struggling economies. The World Bank reported that the poorest countries in the world owed $62 billion in annual debt service, with a significant portion owed to China. However, the statement made no direct or indirect mention of China’s lending practices, as criticism of it would have been seen as an anti-China move. Instead, the declaration called for the implementation of the common framework to provide debt relief to vulnerable nations.

On the topic of climate change, the G20 agreed to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 but did not set specific goals for emission cuts. This omission was welcomed by crude oil producers like Saudi Arabia and Russia, as it did not mention reducing the use of crude oil. India and China, too, have been wary of Western-imposed emission cut targets that they consider unrealistic. While compromises were made, the declaration reflects India’s effort to build consensus among member nations.

One issue that found unanimous support among G20 countries even before the summit was the inclusion of the African Union into the group. This move aligns with India’s push to give developing nations more representation on global platforms, particularly from the Global South.

In conclusion, India’s diplomatic efforts at the G20 summit in Delhi were successful in bridging the divisions among member nations, particularly regarding Ukraine. The expansion of the Brics group and the perception of India as a counterweight to China played a vital role in garnering support from the West. The summit’s joint declaration addressed various issues, including the conflict in Ukraine, the debt crisis faced by developing nations, and climate change. While compromises were made, the outcome of the summit reflects India’s commitment to building consensus and promoting the interests of the Global South.