Expert Speak Raisina Debates
Published on Jan 24, 2023
By developing agendas, action-oriented plans, and decisions through collaborative efforts, India could lead the G20 agenda in a unique way
Setting a robust G20 agenda


The G20, or Group of 20, has emerged as the primary venue for international economic and financial cooperation. G20 countries account for 80 percent of the world’s GDP and share 75 percent of global cross-border trade and two-thirds of the planet’s population. Two parallel tracks steer the G20 agenda each year—the Finance Track and the Sherpa Track. The Finance Track is led by finance ministers and central bank governors of member nations, who meet throughout the year. Sherpas, who are personal emissaries of leaders, lead the Sherpa Track. They oversee negotiations throughout the year, discussing agenda items for the summit and coordinating the substantive work of the G20. Working groups designed around specific themes operate within both tracks. Representatives from relevant ministries from both member countries and invited/guest countries are included. Multiple international organisations, like the United Nations (UN), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, also participate in working groups. India assumed the presidency of the powerful grouping G20 on 1 December 2022, symbolising the motto and showcasing its philosophies of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, or “One Earth, One Family, One Future”. India committed to making India’s year of chairmanship one that will focus on “healing our ‘One Earth’, creating harmony within our ‘One Family’, and giving hope for our ‘One Future’ and LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment)”.

Representatives from relevant ministries from both member countries and invited/guest countries are included.

During India’s presidency, the troika—previous, current, and incoming presidency—comprise Indonesia, India, and Brazil, respectively. The troika is leading the global agenda at G20 in the current turbulent economic times. Beyond being a forum for policy discussions, the G20 plays the role of reconciling the irreconcilable. The number of talks and years the group has been together has resulted in a mixed bag of success. However, the pace of measurable outcomes could have been more in line with its member nations' vision. As a result, it is more important than ever to examine the process of setting agendas at a fundamental level with set principles in mind, even if the methods for achieving those agendas vary.

Proposed principles:

India has a unique opportunity to learn from its experiences as a leader in navigating the global agenda in different forums. As a result, it is critical to take into account the considerations:
  1. Democratising the process of setting the agenda: While setting up the global agenda, it is critical to bring together all the partner nations to understand their priorities. It will ensure diversity, equity, inclusivity, sustainability, transparency, and long-term commitment. The subsequent focus on factors with the highest degree of commonality will build confidence among the group members. This can also help ensure that the domestic policies are aligned and support global priorities. There is a feeling among the international community that if one is not on the table, they are on the menu. Smaller, non-member nations need more focused assistance to understand how their participation can add value; simply inviting them to a summit is insufficient.The private sector and civil society organisations can provide valuable insights, advocacy and recommendations for the G20 agenda by focusing more on these common priorities. They can also help to ensure continuity and follow-through on commitments through robust monitoring and reporting mechanisms. Furthermore, these non-governmental sectors' participation could help promote transparency and accountability in the G20 process.
  2. To create a long-lasting impact; it is crucial to strike a balance between the needs of developing and developed countries: Since Indiahas a greater responsibility to shoulder , it should not work and seem biased.Similarly, developed nations should instead exercise greater caution with their rich resource pools. They should not come out working on a global scale with good intentions yet seem biased. To create a win-win scenario rather than a zero-sum game, we must think in terms of multilateralism. India must leave the G20 Presidency with the flexibility and vigour to adapt to changing circumstances. It must build a multilateralism that is prepared for the future through a novel and robust institutional framework. When considering the long term, this would assist the developing countries to bring newer solutions and developed ones to challenge their worn-out legacy systems, ensuring growth for all.
  3. Choose policy directions that guarantee continuity. India's agenda made in solidarity with partner nations needs to last longer than its year-long presidency.
  4. It is also critical to remember that if there are too many priorities, there are none. Therefore, it is critical to prevent the G20 from suffering—as other multilateral forums such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) do—from an over-expansion of its mandate. While being ambitious in their approach, it is crucial to set defined, limited long-term priorities.
  5. Set concrete, measurable, and tangible goals and milestones with the caveat that it should not be a one-size-fits-all approach because all nations are in different stages of development. Measurable outcomes with short, medium, and long-term objectives are crucial. Financial considerations must be made in addition to ensuring inclusivity, sustainability, and accountability to avoid the agenda falling into the “talk trap” Without consistent political action and monetary commitments, rhetoric will result in no visible change in human lives.
  6. Prevent ‘Reinventing the wheels’: To encourage faster mutual growth, it is necessary to prevent duplication of efforts. It is important to prevent duplication of existing international institutions, fragmentation of financial resources, and the weakening of the coordinating role of the existing multilateral organisations. The ‘cooperative’ and ‘collaborative’ frameworks are key to successful outcomes.
  7. Prejudice-free dialogues are required to promote solidarity. Prejudices on international platforms can pose a threat to global security. Dialogue as an antidote is a force for conflict prevention, management, and resolution.
  8. Mutual safeguarding from disguised elements of neocolonialism and hegemony is essential for cutting through the socio-cultural and geopolitical barriers between the Global South and the Global North. This is crucial because, historically, partnerships have frequently benefited the partner with more resources than the other and resulted in overall humanitarian crises.
  9. The principle of Antyodaya (“rise of the last person:): The global lens must capture every aspect of a community through inclusive dialogues, from the most marginalised to the most privileged. It is crucial to set the vertical and horizontal plans on a global and national level with the ‘last person standing in line’ in mind. It is crucial for member nations to navigate the G20 summit's many priorities and topics and comprehend the beginnings and development of each commitment.

India's role in setting up a robust agenda

The above-mentioned principles are in consonance with the Indian cultural and constitutional ethos. The values expressed in the Indian Constitution and its uniqueness in having diversity contribute to the ‘foundational DNA of democracy’ and ‘collective decision-making.’ With its unique diversity, India has successfully taken a growth path over the years.

Keeping the essential principles in mind when developing agendas, action-oriented plans, and decisions through collaborative efforts have the potential to yield revolutionary and positive results.

While India’s successes are being assessed and unprecedented hopes are being expressed about our future, the country’s trust in the global governance architecture is evident through several examples from the recent past, like the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in India as well as remarkable vaccine diplomacy initiative ‘Vaccine Maitri’. With one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies, the country has earned its stripes during tough external and internal times. Similarly, India has been ranked among the top five countries under the global Climate Change Performance Index. Moreover, it has taken the lead in spearheading the transition towards cleaner energy sources. With its social capitalism, India has earned a geopolitical sweet spot in the world. In a nutshell, India, from its vantage point with justifiably earned global accolades for all these achievements, is well-positioned to beat into place a tough but necessary consensus on the G20 platform. The country can lead the G20 agenda in a unique way the global community has never witnessed. Keeping the essential principles in mind when developing agendas, action-oriented plans, and decisions through collaborative efforts have the potential to yield revolutionary and positive results. The vision of shaping a new paradigm—of human-centric globalisation is promising, provided the Global North and South communities provide equal support.
The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.


Ravi Mittal

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