On 1 December 2022, India formally took over the presidency of the Group of 20 countries — which rotates annually between members — constituting the most powerful intergovernmental forum, known as G20. The presidency for the year 2023 was handed over to India by Indonesia in the recently concluded Bali summit. The illustrious group together account for over 80 percent of the global GDP, 75 percent of global trade and 60 percent of the world’s population. G20 is truly enormous, and the mandate it carries can potentially re-establish institutional credibility.
For countries like India, the G20 is a unique global institution, where developed and developing countries have equal stature. Here, the latter can display their global political, economic, and intellectual leadership on par with the world’s most powerful countries. Thus, heading this world’s most influential multilateral forum is an occasion for national rejoicing and is projected as a symbol of India’s growing global stature and prestige, capable of straddling the North-South divide.
In its first-ever global leadership role, India’s long-awaited moment to lead and spearhead new policies at the negotiating table has arrived, where it uses its new position to secure green investment and shift global governance to the benefit of the “Global South,” a grouping that largely includes lower-income nations in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. New Delhi intends to strongly focus on G20’s principal role to assist vulnerable countries, give voice to the aspirations of the people in developing countries and bring their issues to the centre stage, especially since many of them do not have representation within the G20.
However, the presidency came at a time of geopolitical tumult, uncertainty over post-pandemic economic recovery and the looming crisis of climate change. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has vitiated relations between Russia and the industrialised Western countries, most of which are members of the G20. The conflict and the resulting unilateral sanctions imposed by the West has upset the post-pandemic global recovery and sharply impacted oil and gas prices as well as food availability. The impact of rising unemployment and increasing inflation has been felt sharply by the most vulnerable, the developing countries and the least developed countries.