The G20 Leaders’ Summit on September 9 and 10, 2023, adequately highlighted India’s capacity as the grouping’s president to create a unique platform to spearhead discussions on pressing global issues, and emerge with a consensus in the form of the Leaders’ Declaration. The G20’s core objective of fostering international economic cooperation is built upon the imperatives of multifaceted economic concerns spanning trade, finance, sustainability and climate change.

The question that looms large is what is there for the common man and the poor in all this?

The Indian G20 presidency has placed inclusivity at the forefront of its agenda, seeking to amplify public concerns within high-level discussions. Through establishing 11 Engagement Groups, diverse segments of society, ranging from students and youth to women, the private sector, academics, and civil society, have actively participated in substantive discussions on critical issues. This “bottom-up” approach magnifies the voices of Indian citizens on the global stage.

Human capital

Further, India has showcased its vast potential in terms of both human and natural capital. Boasting the highest growth rate among major global economies, standing at 7.2 per cent for the financial year 2022-23, underscores India’s economic resilience even amidst global challenges. The ‘China plus one’ strategy adopted by international companies, aiming to diversify production away from China, is poised to benefit India significantly, leading to increased investments. These investments, in turn, are expected to generate more jobs and drive domestic economic growth.

India’s burgeoning global profile will positively impact various segments of society. India’s active engagement in free trade agreements and economic partnerships with nations such as the UAE, Australia, and the UK will influence the entire commodity value chain within the domestic economy. Such agreements benefit the urban middle class by offering cheaper choices.

Foreign investments contribute to job creation, fostering competitiveness in the labour market and leading to higher wages for factory and service sector workers. Moreover, foreign businesses often bring improved procurement practices, benefiting farmers and the agricultural community.

The prominence of the G20 and India’s pivotal role within it holds significant implications for poverty alleviation. Sustainable Development Goal 1 (SDG 1) underscores “no poverty”, a foundational aspect of global development governance. India has not only advocated for the concerns of the impoverished but has also championed the entire UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030. India’s geopolitical and geoeconomic standing within the G20 can attract investments that lead to job creation and poverty reduction.

Voice of the Global South

India’s economic prowess, historical commitment, diverse representation, advocacy for vulnerable nations, and multifaceted diplomacy collectively position it favourably as a representative of the Global South within the G20. This enables India to contribute effectively to discussions and initiatives benefiting developing nations and addressing their unique challenges on the international stage.

In essence, India’s position as the “Voice of the Global South” within the G20 is not merely symbolic; it represents an opportunity to advocate for policies and initiatives that prioritise the well-being and development of developing and emerging economies. Two issues stand out here: acknowledging and bringing women to the forefront of development discourse and governance (something that affects and will affect our lives and livelihoods); and including the African landmass.

Therefore the Indian G20 presidency signifies far more than a display of diplomatic prowess. It encapsulates India’s influence wielded to address pressing issues that resonate with both its citizens and the global community India’s commitment to inclusivity and economic strength is poised to yield tangible outcomes such as increased investments, job opportunities, income growth, and poverty reduction.

This ascension on the global stage isn’t a privilege reserved for a few; its dividends extend to the ordinary citizen, the diligent farmer, the industrious factory worker, and the aspiring urban middle class. The G20, under India’s leadership, has become a beacon of hope for a more prosperous and equitable world.

Ghosh is Director, and Bhowmick is Associate Fellow, at ORF