Foreign Affairs
G20 group faces many challenges: S Jaishankar

Mysuru, India

There are many challenges before the G20 grouping, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said, adding that India adopted an unconventional approach to its presidency, making it more connected with the people. A major highlight of the second day of the Think20 (T20) summit in Mysore on Tuesday was a virtual address by Jaishankar, which was followed by high-level talks with him. Speaking on India’s G20 chairmanship, Jaishankar said that “there have been some achievements, some works in progress, and some progress is expected”.

The T20 is an official engagement group of the G20 and serves as an “idea bank” for the G20, bringing together think tanks and high-level experts to discuss relevant policy issues. The Observer Research Foundation (ORF) is functioning as the T20 Secretariat during India’s presidency of the G20. Introducing the session, Ambassador Sujan Chinoy, President of T20 India, described Jaishankar as “a remarkable leader who takes Indian foreign affairs forward like a legend” and “a key figure in India’s strong foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi”. Described as “the architect”.

Jaishankar said that with the G20 Leaders’ Summit 2023 a little more than a month away, four points are particularly important about the current Indian G20 Presidency. Jaishankar said that given the immense importance of the G20 as an international grouping, “India must ensure it focuses on the right issues and builds an actionable consensus”. The Foreign Minister emphasized that it is important that the G20 remains unified and cohesive, with “open discussions between all members, regardless of their other affiliations”.

Jaishankar emphasized that the polarization within the UN Security Council has made the G20 a more important grouping than otherwise. He said that at a time when growth is under pressure around the world, the G20’s mandate on growth and progress makes it an important contributor to global well-being. “Today the G20 faces many challenges. There is the North-South divide and East-West separation, the impact of Covid on all regions, the Ukraine conflict, the debt crisis and trade disruptions. These factors have hindered efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and initiate climate action,” Jaishankar said.

He further said that early in his presidency, “India decided that it was important to be fair and listen to countries, not in the room”. As a result, India organized an exercise called ‘Voice of the Global South Summit’ in January 2023, in which 125 countries interacted to address their development concerns. He said these have set India’s priorities as G20 President. The External Affairs Minister said that as the Indian presidential term draws to a close, “there are some achievements, some work in progress, and some progress to be expected”.

Some of the milestones include a positive outcome of the Development Ministers’ meeting in June 2023; consensus on the idea of sustainable lifestyles; Decisive focus on the challenges of advancing the SDGs; Strong and sustained emphasis on women-led development; and progress in discussions on reforming the multilateral development banks, Jaishankar said. “It is important for the G20 member states to realize that what unites us is greater than what divides us,” the External Affairs Minister said. Jaishankar concluded his address by saying that India has taken an unconventional approach to its G20 Presidency, making it “very much connected with the people”, and demonstrating that “their concerns and global concerns are inseparable”. “.

He said India has been able to leverage the G20 platform to demonstrate “change in action” and to “prepare the world for India and India for the world”. Answering a series of questions from Samir Saran, chairman of the T20 India secretariat and president of the Observer Research Foundation, Jaishankar said that one of his primary concerns was that it would take years for the world to recover from the shock caused by Covid.

“Since the financial crisis of 2008-9, every year there has been some form of global upheaval, which has had the effect of broadening the scope of the G20 and changing and reforming it,” he said. Jaishankar said, like most other major groupings, the G20 “must assimilate the major global developments of its times”. Speaking about his recent visits to Africa, the External Affairs Minister said that Africa needs a “stronger voice” in the G20, and his visits highlighted how strongly India feels about this. He reiterated PM Modi’s firm belief that the African Union should get permanent membership in the G20, pointing out that “Africa is a promising continent in terms of its demography, talent, resources and strategy as well.”

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