G20: India wants concrete statements, not just political ones

Posted on December 1, 2022 at 6:14 pmUpdated December 1, 2022 at 6:25 p.m

At least 200 meetings across the country will punctuate India’s chairmanship of the G20 this year, which begins on Thursday. If the forum has so far been plagued by geopolitical tensions, especially those caused by the war in Ukraine, it remains the most appropriate format for responding to current global challenges. “It may not be the most ideal in the current context, but there is no better international forum to discuss the full range of global challenges we face,” affirms Javed Ashraf, India’s ambassador to France.

And certainly not the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) that could replace the G20, despite the desire of several countries to join the group. “BRICS is not an alternative. The fact that the G20 was able to meet during the Covid pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine proves that each of the countries that make up it considers this forum to be the most representative of the diversity of today’s world,” the ambassador added. And India intends to use its presidency to promote its ideas.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes the G20 can go further, in a column published by L’Opinion in France on Thursday. India intends to rely on its model to take things forward during its presidency. “We have tried to turn national development into a citizen-led ‘grass roots movement’ rather than top-down management,” he writes. “We should go beyond just political declarations and prepare action plans with concrete results,” Javad Ashraf emphasizes.

Changing behavior for climate

New Delhi takes a different approach when it comes to combating climate change and protecting biodiversity. “Until now, the answer has been technological, such as an increase in green energy production. Most efforts have been made by governments. But we have to adapt our way of life and citizens have to change their behavior. This is a new idea,” the ambassador explains. Similarly, India intends to accelerate efforts in the oceans. “Until now, we have paid too much attention to the protection of the soil,” laments the Indian diplomat.

Faced with the risk of food insecurity and potential famine, the ambassador is confident that initiatives are possible. “We must ensure the transfer of surplus agricultural products to countries in need. But certainly not by letting the laws of the market act alone. Poor countries cannot afford to pay the current prices. Changing the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is certainly necessary. In this regard, the Indian government considers it possible to carry out extensive reforms in the organization, since the G20 countries are its most active members.

India stands for food security

In response to a question about criticism of his country’s food security policy and restrictions on wheat and rice exports at the WTO, Javid Ashraf first emphasizes that “India has never been a major grain exporter in terms of its population. Let me add that this year we have never exported so much. This is a historical record.”

Above all, New Delhi, faced with rising demand that drives up prices, could benefit from this manna at the risk of facing shortages at the national level. “When there is a sudden increase in demand and price increase, we don’t want it to become a situation where some people start buying in the market, hoarding and exporting at high prices so unchecked. This would have led to famine in India and would not have benefited poor countries. We are ready to provide them with preferential rates so that their population does not pay exorbitant prices. »

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