Issue Brief on “The G20 Presidency: Is India Ready for a More Global Diplomatic Role?”



The G20 presidency is a vital platform for the global economies to project their leadership and mediation skills. However, due to its preoccupation with self-serving agendas, the Indian presidency of G20 has been stung by myriad challenges. India, a self-proclaimed leader of the Global South, came on the stage as the president of G20, vowing to inter alia promote the issues of the Global South. On its agenda were matters related to climate change, inclusive economic growth, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), digital infrastructure, multilateralism, and women-led development. However, matters of the Global North, such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict and U.S.-China competition, have been the points of contention that have witnessed major polarization and have elicited zero constructive contribution from the G20 president (India). India’s G20 Indian presidency has been riddled with controversies due to several issues handled rather imprudently by the BJP government.  

India’s Global Leverage

The most pressing challenge that earned the title of ‘controversial G20 presidency’ was handling of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. India’s so-called ‘neutrality’ and failure to forge any consensus statement/communiqué on the subject at the G20 meetings nearly pre-determined this title. A British newspaper predicted that India’s presidency would likely be ‘controversial’ due to Prime Minister Modi’s support for Russia during the ongoing conflict and India’s refusal to condemn Russian ‘aggression.’[1] They also commented on India’s close trade links with Russia (primarily oil), which have been the key driver of PM Modi’s support for Russia. A Russian think-tank had opined that India and Russia, also members of BRICS and SCO, would play a significant role in shaping the G20 agenda. This conveyed a sense that the Indian G20 presidency would honour the long-standing India-Russia strategic and economic relationship and not side with the West in condemning Russia.[2] The G20 meetings were platforms to deliberate on matters that impacted both the Global North and Global South due to globalization; however, India’s selective approach served to undermine the overall purpose.

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