The G20 summit in New Delhi was a massive success and in many ways signaled India’s rise as a major global power. It was clear from the summit that India’s role is now eagerly sought by the major powers to address current geopolitical problems. And it was for this reason that despite the absence of China and Russia and the sharp differences among the participating countries, the summit was able to agree to a joint statement. It concluded with leaders reaching consensus on a broad economic plan for impoverished nations. However, underlying divisions surrounding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine persisted, challenging the group’s diplomatic unity.
The carefully negotiated declaration issued at the summit was notable for what it omitted. In a departure from the previous year’s stance in Bali, where leaders had unequivocally condemned Russia’s aggression and called for the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine, the New Delhi declaration merely expressed concern for the “suffering” of the Ukrainian people. It alluded to past United Nations resolutions condemning the war and emphasized the adverse impact of global conflicts while calling on Russia to permit the export of grain and fertilizer from Ukraine and to support a just and lasting peace.
President Biden, in deference to India’s close ties with Russia, refrained from overt criticism of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. While the Ukraine issue remained a point of contention, the summit achieved progress in other areas. One significant announcement at the summit was the plan to create a rail and shipping corridor linking India to the Middle East and eventually Europe. This is believed to be the west’s answer to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). India has always been averse to joining the BRI, since it passes through Gilgit Baltistan which India sees as its part. Should the rail project materialize sometime in future, this will obviate India’s need to go through Pakistan and Afghanistan to reach the world.
The absence of two influential leaders, China’s President Xi Jinping and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, raised doubts about the summit’s potential effectiveness in addressing global issues amid ongoing geopolitical divisions. But as the joint declaration later showed, the summit was able to achieve its objectives. G20 leaders and geopolitical experts on Sunday hailed the New Delhi Summit as a resounding success and said the meeting has once again put the bloc at the centre of global governance. And it has brought India’s role as an emerging global power in a renewed focus.
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